Bear River
Cutthroat
Trout

Product of Geological Change – Bear River Cutthroat

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.

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Where to Find Bear River Cutthroat in Utah

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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.

 

Rich County:

  1. Woodruff Creek Reservoir.   This reservoir contains a strong population of native BRCT that can be caught from the shore or from a small boat. The boat ramp at Woodruff Creek Reservoir is rudimentary and the launching of anything but smaller boats is discouraged.
  2. Big Creek. A strong population of BRCT remains in the headwaters of Big Creek, however portions of this stream are privately owned so please respect private property. Big Creek is slated for chemical reclamation during the next few years; please contact the Northern Region UDWR Office (801-476-2740) for BRCT fishing opportunities in this stream.
  3. Otter Creek (all three headwater forks). This stream is being chemically restored to native BRCT during 2015-2016. Please contact the Northern Region UDWR Office (801-476-2740) for BRCT fishing opportunities in this stream.
  4. Bear Lake. Bear Lake is being managed to provide a trophy BRCT fishery and angling opportunities for large BRCT are available year round. Special fishing regulations are present on Bear Lake so check the Fishing Guidebook before planning a trip. Up to date fishing reports are available from the Bear Lake UDWR Field Station at 435-946-8501.

 

Cache County:

  1. Logan River. The Logan River in Logan Canyon (upstream from 3rd dam to the headwaters) is managed for native BRCT. The majority of the Logan River upstream from 3rd Dam is on the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest. The densities of BRCT are strong in the Logan River and its’ tributaries making this a great destination to catch a pure, native BRCT. Special fishing regulations are present in the Logan River so check the Fishing Guidebook before planning a trip.
  2. Blacksmith Fork River. A small population of BRCT remains in the Blacksmith Fork River. The Left Hand Fork, Rock Creek, and Curtis Creek, all tributaries of the Blacksmith Fork, contain larger populations of native BRCT.

 

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.

  1. The Weber River from the confluence with the Ogden River upstream to Echo Dam is managed by the UDWR for native cutthroat trout (Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat trout).
  2. The Weber River and its tributaries from the town of Oakley, UT upstream to the headwaters is managed by the UDWR for native cutthroat trout (Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat trout).
  3. Beaver Creek (upstream from Kamas) is managed by the UDWR for native cutthroat trout (Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat trout).
  4. South Fork of the Ogden River is managed by the UDWR for native cutthroat trout (Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat trout).
  5. Wheeler Creek. Angling conditions can be tough as Wheeler Creek is a small, brushy stream and is managed by the UDWR for native cutthroat trout (Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat trout).
  6. Wolf Creek. Angling conditions can be tough as Wolf Creek is a small, brushy stream and is is managed by the UDWR for native cutthroat trout (Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat trout).

Bear Lake Cutthroat Facts

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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

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Photo by USFWS Mountain Prairie, reflect colors enhanced / CC BY

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