An Idaho fly-fishing guide has broken a weeks-old state record with the catch and release of a 31-inch Yellowstone cutthroat trout on the Snake River.
Nate Burr of Rexburg landed the cutthroat after three days of uneventful fishing with a friend – and after the fish had led them on a half-mile drift-boat chase downstream.
“It was one of those brutally slow days,” Burr, 23, said of the Sept. 8 evening catch, announced by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on Friday. “Hunting big trout on streamer means a day on the water can go from zero to 100 in a split second. That was exactly the case with this fish.”
The cutthroat, netted after a 15-minute fight, was released after it was measured and photographed. The catch breaks a record (30.5 inches) set on Aug. 7, also on the Snake River. The previous record (28.5 inches) also had been set on the Snake River.
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Burr told For The Win Outdoors that he and his friend (Tanner) had floated the same section of river for three days, seeking only large fish and taking turns rowing, before the massive Yellowstone cutthroat announced its presence.
“I was fishing a white streamer that would swim about a foot under the surface,” said Burr, an area guide. “I threw a long cast to the shallow side of the run and began stripping the fly through the run. Before the fly hit the deep water a massive shape appeared from upstream charging down toward the fly.
“One-third of the trout’s back was out of the water as he made his first charge.”
The cutthroat was hooked after a third charge, and led the anglers on a swift downriver pursuit.
According to the IDFG, Yellowstone cutthroat trout measuring 30 inches or more are “exceedingly rare” in rivers. They can grow larger in deep-water lakes, such as Yellowstone Lake in the Wyoming portion of Yellowstone National Park.
Inside Yellowstone National Park, native cutthroat trout are an important prey source for critters such as bears, otters, and mink.
In Idaho, Yellowstone cutthroat trout are found in the eastern region and native to the Snake River from Shoshone Falls upstream to the headwaters.
Yellowstone cutthroat trout are one of four subspecies of trout found in Idaho.
Idaho’s catch-and-release record program, which began in 2016, is designed to encourage conservation among anglers who land trophy-size fish.
–Images courtesy of Nate Burr