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Changes to state fishing records


Matt Smiley holding a lake trout
Matt Smiley holding a lake trout
Matt Smiley set the catch and release record for lake trout on May 4. The fish was caught at Flaming Gorge and was 48 inches long.
Photo credit: Matt Smiley.

SALT LAKE CITY - Anyone who goes fishing knows how thrilling it is to catch a fish, especially if it is a large, potentially record-breaking one. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is making several changes to the state's fishing records in 2020, including adding several new record categories for cutthroat trout.

The DWR began tracking records for harvested fish in the early 1900s. The record fish program has since been expanded to include catch-and-release records and records for fish caught using alternate tackle, like spearfishing, archery and setline. There are currently 33 catch-and-keep angling records, 34 catch-and-release records, 21 spearfishing records, six setline records and three archery records in Utah.

Here is a look at all the changes to state fishing records that will go into effect in 2020:

ARCHIVING NATIVE NONGAME FISH RECORDS

Some of the changes to the fish records will include archiving all the existing records for native nongame fish.

"We wanted to make this change because sometimes these records encourage people to go fish for unique species," DWR sportfish coordinator Randy Oplinger said. "However, some of our native nongame species are sensitive or endangered and can't sustain that angling pressure. Another reason behind archiving these records is that many of these native species are quite small (some are only a couple of inches long), so we see little benefit to keeping records for very small fish."

The archived records will still appear on the website to credit the anglers who caught the fish, but new records will not be accepted for the archived species.

ARCHIVING RECORDS FOR SPECIES NO LONGER IN UTAH

Another change to the fishing records will be to archive the records for fish species that are no longer in Utah. Brownbow trout and albino trout are species that haven't been stocked in Utah for several years.

"Having active fishing records implies that you can catch these fish and potentially break records," Oplinger said. "These are two species that we no longer have in the state, so there is little chance of catching them and breaking the record."

ARCHIVING CURRENT CUTTHROAT TROUT RECORDS AND CREATING NEW CATEGORIES

The final change to Utah's fishing records includes archiving all the current cutthroat trout records, and creating four new records for each of Utah's four cutthroat trout subspecies: Bear River, Bonneville, Colorado River and Yellowstone. Previously, the cutthroat trout record category combined all the different subspecies - this change will allow anglers to set a record for each of the four cutthroat trout subspecies.

"Our existing cutthroat trout records are old and were likely fish that were not genetically pure, including a mix of subspecies native to Utah as well as subspecies from other states," Oplinger said. "The DWR has worked hard since the 1990s to restore the cutthroat trout subspecies to their native ranges. With these new records, the subspecies of cutthroat will be determined based on where the fish was caught. People can get information on the Utah Cutthroat Slam website about where each subspecies lives."

People can submit applications for the four new cutthroat state records beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Applications can be submitted on the DWR website.

NEW RECORDS SET IN 2019

Several new fishing records were set in 2019: