CHEYENNE - Late fall often provides some of the best fishing of the year, and hunters with late season licenses might consider adding another activity and pursue their Cutt-Slam and X-Stream Angler certifications.
It’s always a good idea to throw in a fishing rod when heading out on a hunting trip as the fishing is usually very good and many hunt areas in Wyoming are close to productive waters. In many parts of the state, hunting trips are also taking place in areas close to waters that contain one or more of Wyoming’s four cutthroat subspecies and also on waters that are in the X-Stream Angler program.
Catching all four cutthroat subspecies in their native range qualifies an angler for the Cutt-Slam recognition. The program was started 15 years ago and since that time, 953 anglers have received their Cutt-Slam certificate.
Probably the most difficult part of completing the Cutt-Slam is just getting to the waters where the various fish are located. Substantial driving is usually involved, but many of the hunt areas, especially in the western part of the state, are close to native waters of the cutthroat trout. The fish are usually not that difficult to catch and even if all species are not caught during the course of the trip, there is no time period in which the Cutt-Slam must be completed. Some anglers have stretched out their Cutt-Slam over five years or more, while others have caught their required fish in two days.
A key component of the Cutt-Slam is that all of the subspecies must be caught in their native range. Over the years, there have been numerous stockings of cutthroats outside of their native waters. While cutthroats caught in these waters provide diverse fishing opportunities, they do not count towards completion of the Cutt-Slam.
In general, most of the native ranges of the various cutthroat subspecies are found in the western half of the state.The easternmost fisheries that are native range include the Big Horn River drainage for Yellowstone cutthroat, and those are mostly located in the Bighorn National Forest. In addition, most of the waters in Yellowstone National Park and its eastern front host Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
Other Wyoming waters where cutthroat are native are some of the small streams found in south-central Wyoming in the Sierra Madre Range of the Medicine Bow National Forest. There are a number of waters in this area that qualify for the X-Stream Angler program as well. The Colorado River cutthroat is the species in this location. In the western part of the state, Colorado River cutthroats are also found in the Green River drainage. Many of the streams around the towns of La Barge, Big Piney, and Pinedale have Colorado River cutthroats. Other subspecies include the Bonneville cutthroat found in the extreme western part of the state in the Bear River drainage. And finally, the Snake River cutthroat is found in numerous waters in the Snake River drainage.
The X-Stream Angler program recognizes anglers who fish in waters with protected flows under Wyoming’s instream flow law that was created in 1986. Since that time the law has been used to protect water for trout on 130 sections of streams around the state.
Anglers can get their X-Stream Angler certification by fishing three of these segments and having their photo taken at each segment. For fishing three segments anglers will receive a poplin ball cap with the X-Stream Angler logo along with a certificate. Anglers who fish seven segments will receive an up-scale oil cloth cap along with their certificate.
Tom Annear, Game and Fish water management supervisor, said the program was started to increase the awareness of Wyoming’s instream flow law and encourage anglers to visit some of the streams where instream flow water rights have been secured.
“Securing needed flow on these streams under the state’s existing water law is one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain important habitat for native cutthroat trout and other fish and provide angling opportunity for future generations,” Annear said.
There is no deadline to visit the streams and submit the application, but there is only a limited supply of caps, so anglers are encouraged to check out the new program and start fishing for a cap soon.
Information about the X-Stream Angler and Cutt-Slam programs, including the list of instream segments and waters where the four cutthroat subspecies can be found, is on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov or by calling (307) 777-4600.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)