Utah Cutthroat Slam: Colorado River Cutthroat on Boulder Mountain

Welcome to KSL outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle and welcome to the Boulders down here in Southern Utah. Tonight we are going after our second sub-species of cutthroat in the Utah Cutthroat Slam. One that I think is probably the prettiest fish we have here in Utah, it’s the Colorado River Cutthroat.
The mystique of Boulder Mountain is well deserved. A high, beautiful alpine setting in southern Utah that resembles the high Uintas. Boulder Mountain brook trout are legendary, but today our target is to check off the native Colorado River cutthroat trout on our Utah Cutthroat Slam.
First fish, in the Slam, here we go!
The Utah Cutthroat slam was initiated by Brett Prettyman with Trout Unlimited.
That’s a great way to start off.
Brett kicked off our Slam series last month at Bear Lake by catching Bear River cutthroat. Today…
We’ve got about a mile and a half, two mile hike to start out.
We’ll need to put in a lot more leg work to get our catch.
To start the cutthroat trout challenge, it’s $20.00, about $19 of that will go right back into cutthroat trout conservation and if you are under 18 it’s $10.00 to register. So sign up, start catching your four sub species in their native range, call one of the division offices if you have questions. Also great information on TU’s website who has been really the co-sponsor of this program.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works, you sign up, get out, catch all four native sub species of cutthroat trout in their native range, take a picture, submit your information and you’ve done it. Everyone who completes the slam, gets this cool gold coin and a certificate and you have satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped out native cutthroat populations in Utah.
Boy beautiful little lake isn’t it? Yes this is a great lake. Lake X we are calling it, but it has cutthroat in it. Yeah it has Colorado River cutthroat and they should be pretty colored up and bright red right now. Any by catch? Yeah we could catch some tigers, we’ve seen them up to almost ten pounds in here. Wow, ok. Yeah. Lead the way. Let’s get to it.
Well not the species we are after, just a little tiger trout. But he was aggressive, he came out from under this log, like a bullet.
Mike says there is some big tigers in here so we are going to get him back in the water and try and catch some of those and we are really here for some Colorado river cutts. We’ve seen a few, just haven’t caught them.
We’ve had probably close to 30 people register from out of state from about a dozen different states and we are approaching 300 total registered for the Cutthroat trout slam. So it’s getting to be pretty exciting, pretty popular. I’m fielding four or five calls a week.
To have 95% of what you pay into the program go directly onto the ground. 300 people, that’s almost six thousand dollars that we can put onto the ground onto a project.
Oh there we go! Nice fish. Oh it’s a little cutt.
So tell me about that fish. Native to where? It’s native to the Colorado River drainage. In Southern Utah, in the Fremont and Escalante river drainages, Boulder Mountain area, Thousand Lake Mountain, Fish Lake area. That’s where the Colorado’s are native to.
Like a lot of cutthroat they’ll go after…
On a blade, on a little spinner…
Flies, spinners, even jigs like we are seeing here. They tend to be fairly easy to catch a lot of the time.
Colorado River Cutthroat.
So I think right now we are stocking somewhere in the realm of 12-15 lakes with Colorado River Cutthroat on Boulder Mountain.
There is a number of streams that also have these same cutthroat. Some of them are remnant populations meaning they’re maintained, always been there. And then there is a few others we’ve been able to restore over the years.
Good fish! There you go oh yeah! Here, need a net? I don’t know but it’s a good one. Let me get over there and I’ll bring it. Alright the spinner they like I think it’s a big cutt. Not a giant, but hey what we came for. Woo hoo hoo! Aerial!
I think it’s a tiger. Do you? Yeah. Oh it is, it’s a big tiger. Dang it! Here I’m complaining about tiger trout Mike.
That’s a nice tiger. Oh yeah. I’m telling you, look at that pretty fish.
That’s a good two and a half, three pound fish. Mike is poo, pooing my fish. He’s saying it’s just average, like me. Three pounds is good.
So Mike the bycatch up here, healthy tiger trout. Yup, there is some really nice tigers on Boulder Mountain and that’s a fat, healthy one, really good looking fish. Hey we are going to go check out your guys conservation efforts here, where are we headed next? We are going to go to Dougherty Basin Lake and see our Colorado River Cutthroat spawning operation. We’ll have that here in a moment, but first let’s check out this weeks Klymit quiz question.
The Utah Division of Wildlife manages just over 80 lakes and reservoirs on Boulder Mountain, along with miles of rivers, streams. Our Klymit quiz question tonight is. Can you name the seven sport fish you can catch on the Boulder Mountains?
Once you know the answer, log onto our KSL Outdoors Facebook page, give us all seven species and while your at it, give us a like. We’ll then randomly select and announce a winner on our Facebook page the following week. The winner, set to receive a Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad. Klymit, comfortable, rugged and lightweight. KSL Outdoors will be right back to Boulder Mountains.

Welcome back to KSL Outdoors. You know for decades biologists have been working across the state recovering and redistributing native cutthroat trout throughout their native range. Here on the Boulders, biologists have been trapping and collecting eggs from Colorado River Cutthroat for over fifteen years.
We are at the inlet to Dougherty Basin Lake on the Boulder Mountain. This is the stream that comes in and right here we have a fish trap.
Using this fish trap in the stream and another trap in the reservoir, biologists will capture enough Colorado River cutthroat trout to give them one hundred thousand eggs.
On shore, we’ve got tables set up where they will actually strip eggs out of a female right onto a screen and then take a male and fertilize those eggs right there. Once they are fertilized and ready to go, we take them to a hatchery and then they’ll be hatched and raised up to about two inches this fall and then they’ll be stocked out all over Boulder Mountain, Thousand Lake Mountain. Ultimately this is how we get those cutthroat trout. Other trout that we stock we actually have captive brood that is held in the hatchery and that is where we get the eggs from. We don’t have that for cutthroat. So we have to come to places like this and collect eggs from fish that are out in the wild.
Dougherty Reservoir is about three quarters of a mile from the nearest road. So all the equipment to conduct this egg take is brought in by horseback or by backpack. Dougherty Reservoir is closed to fishing January 1st thru the second Saturday in July every year to protect the fish, it’s also artificial flies and lures only and there is no harvest allowed of any of these fish.
So the Colorado River Cutthroat is considered the most colorful of all the cutthroat sub-species.
You can see that belly is a little bit more red colored. Some of them can be really bright red just solid dark crimson along the whole thing. He’s got a pretty bright gill plate there, purple and then some pretty bright slashes under his jaw.
Beautiful little fish.
There’s five spawning operations just for CRC trout for conservation, sportfish purposes throughout the state. All of these sub species have some level of effort for protection to make sure we have these for generations to come.
This guy we’ll let go.
Everybody has their favorite fish to catch. These were here historically and it’s our civic duty to maintain populations of these fish. That doesn’t mean we are going to have these in every stream and every lake in the state. But there is a place for them and we need to manage for those.
Another little cutthroat.
And these are state sensitive fish so, the more we can do the better off populations will be and the less chance there is for a potential listing in the future under the endangered species act.
So if you were trying to complete your cutt slam and get a Colorado River Cutthroat, some of the lakes you could go to on Boulder Mountain are Dougherty Basin Lake, the one we are at now, once it is open to fishing later in the year. There is also a couple of other lakes, Pine Creek Reservoir on the North slope, short lake on the SE end of the mountain, the Boulder Creek drainage. Solitare lake, those are some good ones to go to and then there is also a number of streams on the south slope of the boulder Mountain where you can catch Colorado River cutthroat.
More from the Boulders in a moment, but first back to the Wasatch front for tonight’s Fish Tech fish report.

Oh there’s a fish. Looks like a cutt. Little better, little bigger fish.
Welcome back to the Boulders, you know Colorado river cutthroat trout is our main target of this trip. But, here on the Boulders, there are many species you can chase.
Look how pretty, the crimson on the gill plate. They get even more beautiful than that, but that’s a beautiful little female. Hopefully we’ll find a male here soon. Lots of them in here and we are completing our cutthroat slam. Let’s go get a bigger one.
There we go, got it! Tiger. Colorful tiger.
Tigers are a lot of fun. The growth rate is a great part about them, they can get nice sized. The other great thing is they are sterile so we can control their density. Then we can kind of dial in the kind of growth we are going to get on them. The other great thing is they are pretty aggressive. So anglers really like them, they are really fun to catch. When they are sterile it’s nice because we can use those in a lake with cutthroat trout and they won’t threaten the cutthroats.
You get out here it’s remote, you don’t see a lot of people, you get into beautiful locations like this, and there is big fish. There’s all kinds of opportunity and it’s not just cutthroat. If you are having a tough day catching cutthroat you can turn around and work on tiger trout, brook trout, grayling, rainbow lakes and Division of Wildlife is doing a great job of managing this area.
You might have noticed that we didn’t share the names of the lakes and reservoirs where we caught many of these fish, and it was for good reason. Many anglers hold the Boulder fishery in high regard. Too much pressure on one small body of water such these could be detrimental to the fishery. But you do have options. The DWR just put out a pamphlet on fishing the Boulders, you can call the DWR and get some ideas. You can may also just strap your rod to a backpack and discover many of these lakes on your own. It’s definitely a little slice of heaven for anglers down here on the Boulders.
There we go. Second one! Look at that, that’s another pretty fish.
Look at the pink on the side of this one.
You know one thing to think about if you are coming out here and you are going to camp is you are in bear country. Luckily here at this campsite the Forest Service has installed a bear box, in fact you can see bear claw marks where the bear tried to get in. Never store you food in your tent. Always try to find something like a bear box or in your vehicle. Remember do not feed the bear as well, a fed bear is a dead bear, so you are just dooming that bear basically you are going to kill it. Also, pack it in, pack it out. We are looking at this campsite here, there is a bunch of bottles, some wrappers, pretty disgusting, if you are going to pack it in, do your part and take it back out. Hey back now to Jeremiah in Centerville for tonight’s Wilde Arrow archery tech tip.

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