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We woke up the next day, packed up the hammocks, and headed to another Logan River trib to fish for a few hours that morning before heading south.  This was a stream I wanted to fish after looking at it via aerial imagery.  It looked like it had a lot of beaver activity on Google Earth and looked too fishy to pass up.  We hit the trail and hiked a mile or us up before we started fishing.  It was nice to have camped so close to where we planned to fish because it’s an awesome feeling to park and be the first ones at a trailhead.

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Once we started fishing it did not take long for me to get on board that morning and I was able to pull a nice cutthroat from the tail of a good run.

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The stream was a small one in a beautiful sagebrush prairie valley.  The first section we fished didn’t have much beaver activity at all, it was faster, with riffles and runs, much like a smaller Logan River.  It did not fish as well as the other trib we fished the day before, which was albeit harder to fish with a much denser canopy.

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Blake wasn’t able to pull any browns out of the main stem of the Logan, but was able to connect with a good one here.  Gotta keep pace in the diversity game.

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I only managed one more cutthroat out of this stream in our short time fishing here.  Normally, I’d be disappointed in a day like that on a river at home, but I really didn’t even notice.  The scenery was beautiful, the weather was nice, life was good.

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Life was good up until we got to the section I had been drooling over while on the computer back home and there was a guy already there fishing it.  I guess he hiked past us and we didn’t notice him.  I know we weren’t deep in a wilderness area, we weren’t far from a city, and this is probably a pretty popular stream, but he couldn’t have given us a bit more room to fish?  We hiked around until he was out of sight (no trees around so this was quite a distance), gave him plenty of water to keep him busy – that section had lots of braided channels and beaver ponds.  Basically we left him sufficient water so that he wouldn’t catch back up to us.

We dropped in on another beaver complex further up and started fishing.  It was slow going, we didn’t see much fish activity and weren’t getting any bites.  We were moving fairly quickly, leapfrogging each other and before we were even out of that beaver complex here comes that guy passing us on the trail again.  My mind was blown.  At this point I was ready to just leave, but out of spite we again went around him giving him lots of room.

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We didn’t fish much longer before we hit the trail and hiked out.  Right before we got to the vehicle we stopped to fish a bit of fishy looking water right next to the trailhead.  We knew that guy couldn’t high hole us here because he actually passed us while we were walking out on the trail.  Maybe we southerners move too slow?

Just as in the trib yesterday Blake was able to end the morning on a high note and pulled a decent sized cutty out from under some brush.  I actually looked back at him and thought he was foul hooked on the brush, but he was actually hooked up trying to keep the fish from breaking him off.

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It was a good feeling to end with that fish.  The Logan Canyon area treated us very well, it is a tremendous fishery and one we probably would not have fished were it not for the Cutt Slam.  I could come back and just spend the week in the Canyon and have an incredible time fishing a lot of different water, such a cool place.

It was time for us to get moving though to our next destination, so got in the car and followed the Logan on up to the head of the canyon.  Just over the pass we could see the brilliantly blue Bear Lake and the town of Garden City.  I had read that when in Garden City one must stop for a raspberry shake so we did and it was fantastic.

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This town is serious about it’s shakes and there were at least a half dozen within sight of the Quick N Tasty that we stopped at – quite the competition.  After the shakes we headed south to Evanston where we were able to restock on a few supplies and fuel up at a local brewery, Suds Brothers.  No trip is complete until I stop at a local brewery for a flight of beers.  Suds Brothers is no Wind River Brewing Co, but it was still a mighty fine way to have lunch.

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After lunch we kept going south, on our way to the north slope of the Uintas and away from modern day amenities for the next couple of days.  It was all dirt roads from here.

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Our next target species was the Colorado River Cutthroat.

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Joseph R. Tomelleri

The Colorado River cutthroat are native, in Utah, to streams that flow into the Green and Colorado Rivers.  On the north slope of the Uintas those are going to be east of the Elizabeth Ridge.  Bear River cutthroat reside west of the Elizabeth Ridge in streams that flow into the Bear River.

Our destination was a popular trailhead near the Hewinta Guard Station for a trail that led deep into the wilderness of the High Uintas.  Just as at our last stream we wouldn’t be hiking deep into the wilderness, just a mile or so before we began to fish.

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One cool thing about this part of the Uintas is the number of old tie hack cabins.  We saw a few while on the trail and several more as we drove on the North Slope Rd.  Lots of old railroad history in this part of the country.

We left the trail and headed down to the creek at a section where it ran through a big meadow.  I’m a sucker for high alpine meadow streams and could tell this one was going to be fun.

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It was a small, shallow stream with lots of pocket water and at each bend it’s runs ran into slightly deeper undercut banks.  We were on fish as soon as our flies touched the water.  What the cutthroat lacked in size here, they made up for in numbers.  We caught so many fish in this creek, it was almost unbelievable.

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My best cutthroat from the stream wasn’t any bigger than the others, but it was a bit more colorful.  These fish get bigger and a lot more colorful in those high alpine lakes, especially down on Boulder Mountain.  We really didn’t have time to head down to southern Utah for this trip, maybe something to think about for a future trip.

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Fishing really just doesn’t get much easier than it was here which makes me think how great a place this would be to take a kid.  Once we fished through the meadow section the stream started to go into a forest and take on some elevation.  It was here that we headed back to the trail and made our way back to the trailhead, passing more tie hack cabins and an old abandoned truck.

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The drive east on the North Slope Rd. was a fairly bumpy, fairly slow ride.  The weather had threatened to rain on us while we were fishing, but we were able to avoid it.  While in the car though we saw rain at a distance, but also were treated with the rare double rainbow and we were left to question just what did it all mean?

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We set up our next campsite at Little Lake Lyman, which was a nice, quiet lakeside campground that had plenty of rising fish and resident bald eagle.  Pretty satisfied with the day we didn’t even wet a line.  A cold beer by the fire was good enough for me.  We’d get after the Colorado River cutthroat again in the morning, hoping to catch some bigger versions of the ones we had caught today.

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On April 1st the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Trout Unlimited unveiled their state’s version of the Cutt Slam program made popular by the Wyoming Game & Fish Dept. for the state of Wyoming, with the launch of www.utahcutthroatslam.org.

Here’s a brief description of the program from the site and a video:

“The Utah Cutthroat Slam is a way to have an angling adventure and support our native trout legacy. For jut $20, you can register to embark on the challenge. Money raised will be used to help fund native cutthroat trout conservation projects across the state. Can you catch and release each of the four Utah cutthroat trout subspecies in their native waters?”

 

Cutthroat trout are beautiful, live in pristine environments and are the only trout native to Utah and much of the Rocky Mountain region. Help Trout Unlimited and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources protect this natural treasure.”

 

 

It is very similar to Wyoming’s cutt slam in that you just need to catch the four native cutthroat species of the state in their native waters, document it, and submit that documentation to them.  Utah goes a step further and requires you to register first and asks for $20, which is totally worth it, as $19 of that $20 go toward conservation projects.  It’s really a win-win for everyone.

To get your cutt slam started in the right direction, a map of the watershed areas where you can find each cutthroat species has been provided (embedded below) along with the attached note:

“This map shows general watershed areas where native cutthroat trout occur across Utah. Each shaded area represents the range one of the cutthroat subspecies, which you can determine by color. Use this map as a general guideline to find where cutthroat might be found. This is fishing; there are no guarantees. More research regarding access and specific fishery regulations should be done.”

 

I really enjoyed participating in the Wyoming cutt slam last year.  It was fun doing the research and even more fun putting that research to work and catching each cutthroat species in the span of five days.  I’ll definitely be throwing the Utah cutthroat slam on the short term bucket list, what great motivation to get back out West and toss dry flies to hungry trout.

 

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The salmonids are in family Salmonidae, which has 10-11 genera that is divided into 3 subfamilies; Coregoninae(whitefish), Thymallinae(grayling), and Salmoninae(char/trout/salmon). Living in the Southeast you have access to a very limited amount of salmonids and I’ve caught the 3 that occur in Georgia.  The brook trout is the only native trout species in Georgia and it is actually a char.  Update, September 2022: I made my first trip out West in September of 2012 to Colorado and caught several “greenback” cutthroat trout in Rocky Mountain National Park – or what were considered greenback trout at the time.  Made another trip out West in August of 2013 to Teton and Yellowstone National Parks where I picked up another cutthroat species.  In August of 2015 I was able to complete the Wyoming Cutt Slam, picking up Wyoming’s four native cutthroat species (they do have a fifth, the Westslope, that is not required for the slam).  In July of 2017 I completed the Utah cutthroat slam, which didn’t necessarily add any new species to the list, but I was able to add Bonneville cutthroat outside of the Bear River drainage. In June of 2021 I made it out to Arizona and New Mexico to catch Apache and Gila trout in their native range. Finally in August of 2022 I made it up to Northern Idaho and caught several Westslope cutthroat in their native range.

Dr. Robert Behnke is the man when it comes to salmonid knowledge. Pick up his book if you want to learn more about this particular family, “Trout and Salmon of North America”. Another great resource is Gary Marston’s Native Trout Fly Fishing blog, he has a Trout and Salmon species page with pictures and information of all those that he has caught (which may be all that are found in the U.S.). Gary’s trip reports are a good read as well, he has had some epic road trips to catch trout in their native range.

Salvelinus fontinalis – Brook trout

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Brook trout are the first native trout species I ever encountered as they do live in Georgia.

Salmo trutta – Brown trout

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Brown trout are not native to North America.

Oncorhynchus mykiss – Rainbow trout

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The first trout species I ever caught, I’ve still yet to catch them in their native range.

Oncorhynchus apache –  Apache trout

Oncorhynchus gilae –  Gila trout

Cutthroat Trout

Western native trout range map source: Coyote Gulch blog

Oncorhynchus clarki stomias – Greenback cutthroat trout

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At the time this fish was considered a greenback, but it’s more likely that it isn’t after genetic research determined that the true greenback was limited to only one stream, outside of it’s native range, in Colorado.  Work has been done to re-establish populations throughout it’s native range and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to fish for a true greenback cutt.  Their historic range is pretty much in the state of Colorado on the Front Range, with some watersheds slipping into Wyoming. They are found in the headwaters streams of the South Platte and Arkansas River drainages.

Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus – Colorado River cutthroat trout

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Their historic range is headwaters streams in the Green and Colorado Rivers, as far south as the San Juan River, west of the Continental Divide.  They are currently limited to a few small headwater streams of the Green and upper Colorado rivers in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, including the Escalante River drainage in southern Utah.

Oncorhynchus clarkii utah – Bonneville cutthroat trout

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Their historic range is pretty much in the state of Utah, with some watersheds slipping into Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada.

Oncorhynchus clarkii utah – Bonneville cutthroat trout – Bear River strain

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They are found in the headwaters streams of the Bear River.  No range map was given from NatureServe or the USGS for the Bear River cutthroat trout, but they are native to the Bear River and it’s tributaries, including Bear Lake.

Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri – Yellowstone cutthroat trout

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Their historic range is the Yellowstone River drainage in Montana and Wyoming and the Snake River drainage in Wyoming and Idaho.  Their current range overlaps with that of the Finespot in the Snake River drainage above Shoshone Falls.

Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei – Finespotted Snake River cutthroat trout

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Their historic range overlaps the Yellowstone cutt in the states of Wyoming and Idaho. They are found in the headwaters streams of the Snake River, particularly the South Fork.

Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi – Westslope cutthroat trout

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Other Native Salmonids

Prosopium williamsoni – Mountain whitefish

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Thymallus arcticus – Arctic grayling

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