One of the most iconic of cutthroat, the Yellowstone –Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri – has a very limited native range in Utah’s northwest corner. That being said, many Utah anglers have caught Yellowstone cutthroat throughout the state. Records show the first cutthroat from Yellowstone came to Utah in 1903 and were planted by Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries officials. The transplants have been caught by anglers at a variety of lakes and streams across the state. In fact, the state record cutthroat trout caught in 1930 at Strawberry Reservoir – all 26 pounds 12 ounces of it – was either a Yellowstone cutthroat or a mix between a Yellowstone and a Colorado River cutthroat. Strawberry, of course, is still known for its large cutthroat trout, but those fish are also not native to that watershed.
All that being said, the Yellowstone cutthroat will be the most challenging of the four Utah subspecies to land simply because of the remote nature of its native range.
Yellowstone cutthroat once occurred in the Goose Creek and Raft River drainages in northwestern Utah near the Idaho and Nevada borders. The native fish are now confined to the Raft River drainage.
Yellowstone cutthroat trout (YCT) are native to the Snake River Drainage and in Utah their distribution is limited to the northwest corner of the state. Historically, YCT occurred in Goose Creek and the Raft River drainages in Utah, but presently populations only occur in the Raft River drainage. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) is working on establishing more populations of YCT that are accessible to anglers in the Raft River drainage. Any cutthroat trout caught in the Utah portion of the Raft River Drainage will be accepted for the Utah Native Cutthroat Slam, however, these streams will provide the best opportunities to catch this native fish in Utah:
Johnson Creek: Brook trout were chemically removed from this stream in 2013-2014. The genetically pure population of YCT located in the headwaters is beginning to build in numbers and slowly disperse downstream. For the next few years, the concentration of YCT will be in the headwater tributary, the Left Hand Fork, however, YCT will be present throughout the Sawtooth National Forest portion of this stream in the near future.
Onemile Creek/Sawmill Canyon: Yellowstone cutthroat trout are the only species of trout in Onemile Creek and its’ tributary, Sawmill Canyon. Yellowstone cutthroat trout occur in good densities in both of these streams on the Sawtooth National Forest, but angling conditions can be tough as these are small, brushy streams.
Wildcat Creek: Yellowstone cutthroat trout are the only species of trout in Wildcat Creek on the Sawtooth National Forest. The population of YCT has been depressed since a wildfire in the mid 2000s, however YCT that would have been lost in the chemical treatment of Johnson Creek recently were transplanted into Wildcat Creek during 2012-2013. These fish should help this population continue to build post-wildfire. The best bet to catch fish in this stream is in the headwaters, downstream from the two headwater forks. Angling conditions can be tough as Wildcat Creek is a small, brushy stream.
For those unfamiliar with this part of Utah, please contact the Northern Region Office (801-476-2740) and ask for a fisheries biologist that can discuss streams in the Raft River.
Found only in extreme northwest Utah
Due to its abundance in Yellowstone National Park, probably the most photographed and famous of cutthroat trout varieties
Once stocked in waters across Utah. State record cutthroat from Strawberry Reservoir was likely a Yellowstone.
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.