Idaho State Fish and Game-
It’s not too late to find native trout
“Trout Slam” programs aren’t new these days. There’s the Wyoming Cutt-Slam, and also the Utah Cutthroat Trout Slam, and the well-known California Heritage Trout Challenge. OK fine – even Nevada has their own Native Fish Slam too!
But when it comes to fishing, bigger is better! That’s where the Western Native Trout Challenge comes in as the heavy weight, combining the best of all the western trout slam programs. Seriously, what other trout slam program offers the challenge to catch up to 18 species of native trout across 12 states from Alaska to Arizona?
The Western Native Trout Challenge is a multi-state trout slam hosted by our friends at the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI). WNTI is part of the bigger National Fish Habitat Partnership program, working across 12 Western states to conserve native trout. They work hard to fund conservation efforts such as habitat restoration, removing migration barriers, fish population surveys and trout education/outreach.
By taking on the Challenge, you can support native trout conservation. From the $25 registration, $23 of that goes directly back into funding trout habitat restoration projects! This is a win-win for angler and trout alike! Idaho has 5 native trout eligible for the Challenge: Redband, Westlslope cutthroat, Yellowstone cutthroat, and Bonneville cutthroat, and Bull trout. Remember, you’ll need at least 6 species from 4 states to complete the basic achievement level, and it gets harder from there, so pick wisely!
Now that rivers are down to low summer flows, late summer and early fall is a great time to seek native trout. Using tools like the Idaho Fishing Planner or the Trout Challenge Maps is a good first step to finding the species you are after. Cutthroat and Redband are easier to catch and are widely distributed across the state. Bull Trout often migrate long distances and are less common, so be prepared to hunt for them. It’s been a hot summer, so I recommend fishing higher elevations, and focus on fishing early or late in the day when water temperatures are cooler and fish are biting best.
Tackling the Challenge is all about making an adventure that is all your own. You’ll get to experience some of the best wild places throughout the West while you try to catch native trout in their original habitats. Along the way, you’ll learn a lot about native trout, where they live, and some of the many challenges they are facing these days. If you are lucky, you might even find a new secret spot.
For more information and registration details, visit the Western Native Trout Challenge website.
Find fish distribution by filtering for species in the Idaho Fishing Planner
See maps of where these fish live on the Trout Challenge Maps Page