The Bear River/Bear Lake Cutthroat Trout is an interesting variety with an interesting history. Even though the present day Bear River terminates in the Great Salt Lake within the Bonneville Basin, these cutthroat trout actually evolved on a separate path from other Bonneville cutthroat trout. The explanation for this comes from geological evidence that shows that the course of the Bear River has changed. At one time the Bear River was actually connected to Bear Lake and the Snake River drainage. Because of this, the Bear River and Bear Lake cutthroat trout probably shared ancient ancestors with the cutthroat trout in the Snake River and Yellowstone drainages. Bear Lake Cutts are known for their voracious appetites and can grow to impressive sizes.
Bear River cutthroat trout (BRCT) are native to the Bear River and its’ tributaries, including Bear Lake. While the Bear River terminates in the Bonneville Basin, these cutthroat trout have evolved on a separate path from other Bonneville cutthroat trout because of a historic stream capture of the Bear River from the Snake River to the Bonneville Basin. This native cutthroat trout subspecies remains abundant and additional pure populations are being protected/restored in Rich County through chemical restoration projects. While the Weber River (including the Ogden River) is not in the Bear River Drainage, the Bonneville cutthroat trout in these drainages historically mixed with Bear River cutthroat trout and cutthroat trout angled in these drainages can count toward either the Bear River or Bonneville cutthroat trout catch, BUT NOT BOTH. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU CLAIM A BEAR RIVER CUTTHROAT TROUT CATCH FROM THE WEBER RIVER, THEN YOU NEED TO CATCH A BONNEVILLE CUTTHROAT TROUT FROM A DIFFERENT DRAINAGE AND VICE VERSA. Any cutthroat trout caught while angling streams in the Utah portion of the Bear River and Weber River (including the Ogden River) drainages will be accepted as BRCT for the Utah Native Cutthroat Slam. Some headwater lakes in the Bear River have been historically stocked with non-native cutthroat trout. If you wish to angle BRCT from any headwater lakes, check with the Northern Region UDWR Office (801-476-2740) for a list of lakes containing native BRCT. The following areas/streams will provide the best opportunities to catch native Bear River cutthroat trout in Utah:
Upper Bear River: This is the headwater portion of the Bear River, including its’ major tributaries: East Fork, West Fork, Stillwater Fork, Hayden Fork, and Mill Creek. The majority of this area lies on the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest and is easily accessible.
Weber and Ogden Rivers: Special fishing regulations are present in portions of the Weber River Drainage so check the Fishing Guidebook before planning a trip.
A unique variety of Bonneville cutthroat trout native to the Bear River drainage, Bear Lake and tributaries
Bear Lake Cutthroats are primarily piscivorous (fish eaters)
Introduced into waters like Strawberry Reservoir to control nuisance fish species
The Utah Cutthroat Slam is a challenge and an adventure. Visit incredible waters to see what trout fishing in Utah was like way back then. Help Trout Unlimited and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources restore and protect Utah’s incredible trout legacy and have fun along the way.