Fishing for Bonneville Cutthroat Trout in Mill Creek Canyon for the Utah Cutthroat Slam

Welcome to KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle. We’ve got a whole crew today and joining us is Mike Slater with the central region. We are doing our third part of our Utah Cutt Slam, today our target? Millcreek canyon. Right here in the back yard of a million people. And what fish are we after today. We are after our Bonneville cutthroat trout today. The state fish. It is the state fish and you brought your daughter because she is trying to complete the slam. She is going to complete it today aren’t you? Yup. No pressure today kid. Catch a fish on camera, get your slam completed.
So today we are going to start above Elbow Fork.
We’ve got two year classes of cutthroat trout from that station up to the head waters so I think we’ve got a better chance of catching more fish up there right now.
The Utah Cutthroat Slam was started earlier this year by the Division of Wildlife Resources and Trout Unlimited. It’s a way raise money for habitat projects for the four sub species of cutthroat we have in Utah. The Colorado, The Bear River, The Yellowstone and our goal today, the Bonneville cutthroat trout.
There you’ve got him! oh! you pulled it just a little hard.
This has been the most successful slam we’ve had so far. We’ve had over 450 participants already register. Raised over 9 thousand dollars just for cutthroat trout restoration. Sixty plus of those have been out of state folks that have registered and come in. We’ve already had about 40 people complete the slam of which about eight of those are from out of state.
What you want to do is register. You can do that on. and it’s $20.00, $19.00 goes into cutthroat trout restoration and then you’ve got to go and catch all four of the native sub species of cutthroat trout in Utah in their native range. There is maps on that website that show you where these fish are.
So you go out, you angle these fish, you take a picture, keep track of the date and the stream that you caught that fish and then when you’ve caught all four you can upload all that info, you receive a great certificate and medallion showing you’ve completed this challenge.
Keep it there! You got him! ok, soft, soft, soft.
The idea behind the slam is to encourage anglers to angle the native cutthroat trout we have in Utah, and introduce them to perhaps new species and new places to fish.
You lost it? Oh my gosh!
But you have to have a picture of your fish and so far Amber is striking out.
I think it’s a good idea. To get people to see the native fish of Utah and be able to say you caught all of them.
Amber is trying to complete her slam on the very stream where her dad has been working on restoring the Bonneville Cutthroat trout. For the past two years, the DWR has removed the unwanted brown and rainbow trout and restocked the native Bonneville cutthroat.
Yeah here in Millcreek, it’s an overall process. It’s not just about removing fish and putting fish back in. There’s going to be a lot of habitat work. We are trying to reconnect some of the stream.
to restore the fish, restore the habitat and over the next year or so, that is what will be culminating. I really think we’ll be able to say hey we are pretty much one with Millcreek canyon.
I mean it’s the ancient fish of Lake Bonneville, 15 thousand years ago when the valley was covered under water. That is the fish that was roaming. That’s the fish that our early pioneers spent a lot of time catching and lived upon. So I think the history of the fish is unique.
let it go, let it go. Stay stay! You got him! Lift him up.
Where is that net huh?
yea! `There’s your fish! it’s so small.
it’s pretty cool. it’s very pretty.
You did it. You got your Bonneville.

the Bonneville have more spots towards the tail, but they do have some spots that still go up towards the head. A Yellowstone will have larger spots and they will typically stop before you get to the head. Other than that, they all have orange slashes and the kind of the rosy purples.
Beautiful fish.
You know this is such a great program because it really provides an opportunity to educate anglers about the different sub species of cutthroat trout. A lot of them kind of understand that there is cutthroat around, but it really ties into our programs as well. So we are able to tie the cutthroat slam right to some of our restoration projects.
Oh baby, what have we got here.
Beautiful cutthroat.
Trout Unlimited and the DWR have been working on projects for the Bonneville cutthroat trout for over three decades. Projects have been done in almost all the historic range of the Bonneville cutthroat trout including the Weber River.
Throughout the weber we have a lot of populations, but one population we’ve really been focusing on is in the lower weber from Weber canyon up through Mountain Green, Peterson and even above. Where we recently worked with USU, TU and others and we discovered a fluvial population of Bonneville Cutthroat trout. So large numbers of fish in the main stem of the Weber river, these are fish that are 16-20 inches in length. That are trying to utilize tributaries for spawning, but a lot of these have been cut off either from road crossing with inadequate culverts or irrigation diversions, so one thing we are really working on now is trying to reconnect all of those tributaries that they need for spawning habitat.

So it’s really exciting, we have microchips in these fish we are putting antennas into the streams in the stream and we are documenting that they are using part of these tributaries after our restoration efforts. That they haven’t been able to utilize for fifty to seventy five years.
Oh there we go. Nice job Paul. Nice. Oh he got off. Oh does not count.
Chalk Creek is a really good example of a really unique cutthroat trout population at least in the Bonneville basin. There’s about a hundred miles of stream up there and almost the entire drainage up there is occupied by cutthroat trout. The habitat has been chopped up and degraded a little bit. So we’ve been working with the private landowners up there, working on irrigation diversions, making them fish passable, working on some of the road culverts that have problems for fish to access their spawning habitat and cold water habitat areas in the summer.
We’ve had a couple of projects where we’ve been able to get into the stream with an excavator, pull out a culvert that had about a six foot drop and was blocking about seven miles of habitat for the cutthroat trout and replace that with a bridge and regraded the stream so it was passable.
Those fish are moving down into the Weber river and people are catching them and we are also improving the water quality into Echo reservoir
There he is, Finally.

The Cutthroat slam isn’t just a fly fishing effort. It’s open to all anglers. In fact, the first person to complete the slam, did it with bait and although the fish here in Millcreek are small. Some native cutthroat in Utah can get pretty big.
female, one, four, seven, three, one.
Take the bear river or Bear lake cutthroat. The DWR has been using the Bear Lake strain to sustain that fishery for decades.
The fish in Bear Lake count towards your bear river cutthroat and can be upwards of fifteen pounds.
First fish in the slam here we go! Here we go. Very cool. Alright, look at that.
For the Colorado river cutthroat, we went to the boulders and watched as the DWR took eggs and milt from the fish in Doughtery Lake and we also caught some pretty nice Colorado river cutthroat. Some boulder lakes have Colorado River cutthroat over three pounds.
For the Bonneville cutthroat you have options for bigger fish as well.
Diamond Fork canyon is a great spot to go. A little bit more secluded, a little different habitat. If you are looking to really get away from it all. we have some really good high elevation latkes. White Pine Lake, Red Pine lake. Those would be great areas, you can hike up. You are probably going to be the only angler there and get a chance at a little larger fish. If you really want to get out of town and see no one else for the rest of the week. We have opportunities in the Deep Creek Mountains, we’ve got six different streams out there, you can go and fish to your hearts content, not see a soul.
You know I think it’s just a great excuse, a great opportunity to get people out. I mean just myself I work with these fish every day. But there’s many of these systems that I haven’t gone up and fished. All it takes is a little prodding, a little challenge, get together with your friends and complete the cut slam, it’s a great opportunity.
Well this is kind of a unique situation, we have two that have completed the slam, congratulations Amber. Then Mike Slater also completed, so today they are getting their certificates and their medallions. You know I think a lot of people were surprised how cool these medallions are. oh the medallions are great. Everybody that has seen them, that’s what they want to get and I think the certificate are pretty nice to.
Yup congratulations. There is a lot to see, a lot to do when you do the cutt slam, make sure you get out and do it. You see a new country, I’ve never actually fished Millcreek. yeah I hadn’t either. I’ve done stories here.

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