Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Large, colorful cutthroat trout at Strawberry

One of my favorite locations on the planet is Strawberry Valley. Whenever someone mentions Strawberry Valley or Strawberry Reservoir, I immediately think of big, beautiful trout and a gorgeous setting full of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. I love that this ideal setting is only an hour or so from many of the populated cities along the Wasatch Front.

The reservoir is the state’s most popular angling destination, and for good reason. Biologists such as Roger Wilson, Alan Ward, Justin Robinson and a large staff of experts from our fish hatcheries have spent countless hours managing this prized reservoir to provide good fishing to anglers.

Another element of the management plan at this reservoir is to provide watchable wildlife opportunities. Thousands of people have made it a tradition to drive to the Strawberry visitor center in September to view the fluorescent orange kokanee salmon during their spawning run.

There is, however, a less-known opportunity occurring at this very time, just outside the visitor center. Bear Lake cutthroat trout follow the same tributaries during their early-June spawning run. The tributaries to the reservoir are currently closed to fishing. Though the water is a little murky in June, you can still watch them in the river as they work their way upstream to spawn.

Scott Root holds a 27-inch, 6-pound cutthroat trout in the Strawberry fish trap facility.

My family was intrigued this week by the staging and territorial trout that we watched from the lawn of the visitor center. We saw 15 to 20 large cutthroat trout clearing the gravel, often fighting for the right to spawn with a mate.

The cutthroat trout are amazing, in that they are jumpers! As the trout work their way toward the fish trap and egg-taking facility behind the visitor center, they have a narrow passage at the entrance to the facility. It’s sometimes comical to watch them jump as high as three or four feet to clear this hurdle. Eventually, many of them end up in the fish trap.

You cannot truly appreciate their size or color until they are netted and lifted for a close-up view. For this reason, we will be holding a cutthroat trout viewing event Saturday, June 9, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Biologists will be on hand to discuss the important role that Bear Lake cutthroat trout play in the management of the reservoir. Of course, we will be offering an eye-level look at these beautiful trout.

For questions about the event, contact DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Scott Root at scottroot@utah.gov or (801) 491-5656.