Ancient peoples in what would become Utah used Bonneville cutthroat as a primary food source. Settlers in Utah also relied heavily on Bonneville cutthroat to get them through the first few years. The Bonneville Cutthroat Trout was the victim of wide-spread over-fishing, competition from non-native fish and habitat degradation. In fact, only a few decades ago the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout was thought to be extinct and/or genetically compromised in essentially all of its native range.
Today Bonnies are on the rebound and offer some incredible angling opportunities in waters just minutes from major urban centers and in some much more remote places most anglers would never go.
Bonneville cutthroat trout (BCT) are native to streams that terminate in the Bonneville Basin, excluding the Bear River. 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. Any cutthroat trout caught while angling streams in the Bonneville Basin will be accepted as BCT for the Utah Native Cutthroat Slam. 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 BONNEVILLE CUTTHROAT TROUT CATCH FROM THE WEBER RIVER, THEN YOU NEED TO CATCH A BEAR RIVER CUTTHROAT TROUT FROM A DIFFERENT DRAINAGE AND VICE VERSA. Some headwater lakes in the Weber River and Provo River have been historically stocked with non-native cutthroat trout. If you wish to angle BCT from headwater lakes in these two drainages, check with the Northern Region UDWR Office (801-476-2740) for a list of lakes containing native BCT. The following areas/streams will provide the best opportunities to catch native Bonneville cutthroat trout in Utah:
Weber River: Special fishing regulations are present in portions of the Weber River Drainage so check the Fishing Guidebook before planning a trip.
Northern Wasatch Front streams: The UDWR Northern Region Office has restored native BCT to several of the small streams along the Wasatch Front north of Salt Lake City. For more information on these angling opportunities, call the Northern Region Office at 801-476-2740.
Southern Wasatch Front high mountain lakes: Many of these lakes require a 2-3 hour hike on a good Forest Service trail in order to access the lake.
Spanish Fork River:
Deep Creek Mountains (eastern slope): These are extremely remote, small, brushy streams that terminate at the valley floor. These streams can be accessed from the valley floor by a dirt road and most have poorly defined trails along the streams. For more information on angling opportunities in this mountain range call the UDWR Central Region Office at 801-491-5678.
Designated official state fish of Utah in 1997, replacing the nonnative rainbow trout.
Once existed in great numbers in Utah Lake and reported to reach sizes of 40 lb. or more
One of the principle sources of food for native tribes and early Utah pioneers
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.