With COVID-19 pushing people to spend more time outdoors, a statewide fishing challenge saw record enrollment this year, and funds from this challenge are being used to help keep Utah trout healthy.
“So we had an epic year. We broke the registration record for a year, we also broke the money that came in for the year. So just this year alone, we raised $13,440.” said Brett Prettyman, the communications director for Trout Unlimited’s Western Water and Habitat program.
We spoke to Prettyman in September about the Cutthroat Slam, a fishing challenge where anglers try to catch all four cutthroat trout subspecies in Utah. He said Cutthroat Slam registrations were up significantly this year, likely due to the coronavirus.
But it doesn’t stop there. Registering for the slam costs $20, and now this money is being used to fund three trout conservation projects across Utah.
First is the installment of educational signage at Lake Canyon Reservoir, a popular lake for trout fishing.
“We're able to help fund some signage that will inform anglers about the species they're catching, details about them they may not know, and also letting them understand the rules about fishing at the reservoir. We want people to make sure they understand why that's important to protect them.” Prettyman said.
Second is identifying physical barriers trout can’t swim past. This project allows managers to find the best way to help trout swim past these barriers and make it back to their natural spawning grounds.
The third project is an intensive trout restocking effort near the Nevada border.
“It's actually a helicopter transportation of Bonneville cutthroat fingerling, in the Deep Creek mountains. It's very remote and hard on the fish to get them in there if you're packing them in, on your back or on a horse. So, we gave a little money for a helicopter.” Prettyman said.
Prettyman said he hopes this newfound interest in fishing continues, so more conservation projects like these can be funded.