Oncorhynchus virginalis bouvieri
One of the most iconic of the Slam’s subspecies, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, has a very limited native range in Utah’s northwest corner. Outside of that native range however, many Utah anglers have caught Yellowstone cutthroat throughout the state. Records show the first cutthroat stocked from Yellowstone came to Utah in 1903 and were planted by Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries officials in 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 Reservoir, of course, is still known for its large cutthroat trout, but the fish there today are still not native to that watershed.
All that being said, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout may be the most challenging of the four Utah subspecies to land simply because of the remote nature of its native range and the small size or shrubby nature of the creeks in which they dwell. Remember, for a cutthroat to count towards the slam, it must be caught in its native range.
Yellowstone cutthroat once occurred in the Goose Creek and Raft River drainages in northwestern Utah near the Idaho and Nevada borders. But now the native fish are confined to the Raft River drainage alone. Check the Slam’s map and the recommended angling locations below for help in planning your trip!
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 the lower stretches of this stream in 2013-2014. The genetically pure population of YCT located in the headwaters (Left Hand Fork Johnson Creek and Browns Canyon) have dispersed downstream and are now readily catchable along the length of the creek starting at the Sawtooth National Forest sign. Conditions may be brushy, but to the dedicated angler, plenty of fish are to be found. Johnson Creek currently holds the densest population of YCT in the Raft River Mtns.
Onemile Creek/Sawmill Canyon: Yellowstone cutthroat trout are the only species of trout in Onemile Creek and its tributary, Sawmill Canyon. Yellowstone cutthroat occur in both of these streams on the Sawtooth National Forest, but angling conditions can be tough as these are small, brushy streams. The best angling opportunity in the Onemile Creek drainage is up Sawmill Canyon, so be careful of which creek you fish past the confluence of Onemile Creek and the Sawmill Canyon tributary. If you stay on Onemile Creek past the confluence, you might not see any fish!
Wildcat Creek: Yellowstone cutthroat trout are the only species of trout in Wildcat Creek on the Sawtooth National Forest. However, the population of YCT has been depressed since a wildfire in the mid 2000s. Fish were even transplanted into Wildcat Creek from nearby Johnson Creek in 2012-2013 to aid in boosting the population. But recent population assessments have shown a substantial drop in population between 2017 and 2022. 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.
The Avenza Maps mobile app allows you to track your location while navigating a map of the area.
Instructions for using Avenza Maps for locating Yellowstone Cutthroats:
For help visit: https://www.avenzamaps.com/maps/how-it-works.html
The only native range for YCT in Utah is in the extreme northwest corner of the state, in the Raft River Mountains
Due to its abundance in Yellowstone National Park, it's probably the most photographed and famous of cutthroat trout varieties
Once stocked in waters across Utah, and the state record cutthroat from Strawberry Reservoir was likely a Yellowstone
Fishing for these small trout may push an angler's skills to the limit, prepare to fish unconventionally to get the fly where you want it: bow and arrow casting, dapping the fly, etc.
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.