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  • Rusty and Cindy Stimmel

Utah, Bonneville Cutthroat Trout


“The Bonneville cutthroat trout is a subspecies native to the Bonneville basin. Bonneville cutthroat trout evolved primarily as a lake-dwelling population inhabiting Lake Bonneville during the Pleistocene. Over time, Lake Bonneville desiccated and the subspecies became restricted to stream-dwelling populations in the isolated river drainages.”


The Bonneville Cutthroat was thought to be extinct in the 1970s due to human activities such as overfishing, habitat destruction and poor fisheries management. Several pure strain populations were found in headwater streams through put its range. In 1978 only 6 populations were known. By 2000, 261 populations were known. Bonneville Cutthroat are brood populations exist in several hatcheries and are being stocked into more areas within its historic range. Many of the areas stocked are small streams in the headwater areas.

I was fortunate that the fly shop in Heber City did not sell fishing licenses. It was the 24thof July, a state holiday in Utah and the shop stayed open for me, when I called and asked if they were open. The salesman at the fly shop was very knowledgeable about fishing the local waters, but did not know much about Bonneville Cutthroat. I went to the Ace hardware across the street and met a member of the High Country Fly Fishers in Park City Utah who knew the fisheries biologist for the Forest Service and the state of Utah. He called both and located some waters where I could legally catch pure strain Bonneville Cutthroat.

We drive to the closest of the three creeks recommended and realized it would be difficult to fish and impossible for Cindy to get pictures. We saw the same conditions at the next creek. At the third creek, we found that while difficult to fish, we could get pictures if I could catch a fish. We located a good place for Cindy to take pictures of me fishing a section of the creek. I fished through it once and hooked a fish about 6” long which I lost. I tried several flies while fishing this stretch of creek, and stayed with the dry fly I hooked the fish with. I started through a second time and caught a Bonneville Cutthroat at a good position for pictures. I will not name the creek where I fished as it cannot stand much fishing pressure. It was a headwater in the Uinta Mountains.


Rusty also caught several rainbow and brown rout, which are not native in Utah.

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