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SALT LAKE CITY—Utah is home to Blue Ribbon streams and gorgeous mountain lakes filled with pan-sized brook trout. At the same time, it’s also the domain of some enormous fish. For example, the lake trout of Flaming Gorge are considered world-class and the tiger muskies of Pineview are among the largest in the western United States.
So what are the five biggest species of game fish found in Utah? That depends on how you determine the size. If you go by length, it’s going to favor the barracuda-like bodies of muskies and northern pike. It’s probably more accurate to base the list off of weight, which gives the stouter species a chance.
According to current Utah fishing records, here are the five largest game fish caught in Utah.
Fish Lake is home to some massive lake trout, but Flaming Gorge is where the true monsters dwell. The official state catch-and-keep record was set in 1988 on the Gorge by angler Curt Bilbey. His fish measured a whopping 45 1/8 inches in length. Even bigger lake trout have since been caught and released in the Gorge, with some exceeding 46 inches in length.
There are urban legends about divers in Lake Powell encountering hulking fish the size of Volkswagens. While these stories may be exagerrated, the striped bass in Powell are legitimately huge. The state record, caught in 1991, was 45 inches long and had a 31-inch girth. For many Utah anglers it’s probably hard to imagine a bass pushing 50 pounds, but the striped bass in Powell definitely get that big.
Only a handful of fish species in Utah can be caught using live mice. Brown trout are one of them. They’re aggressive and powerful, with some of the sharpest teeth you’ll find on a trout. Flaming Gorge once consistently produced world-class brown trout fishing. Those times have passed, but there are still some rogue giants swimming in the depths.
What’s shaped like a torpedo and striped like a tiger? A tiger muskie. These toothy predators are famous for terrifying anglers fishing for crappie who accidentally hook into them while jigging. They’ve also been known to occasionally chomp on small dogs and other animals that venture out into the water where they live.
At 49 inches in length, the catch-and-keep record for tiger muskie was big. But there are much larger fish prowling Pineview. The catch-and-release record stands at more than 53 inches long.
Catching a big catfish is like dragging a refrigerator out of the lake. And once you get it on shore, it’s still similar to dealing with an old refrigerator. What do you even do with it? I know that catfish are good eating, but the fish from Utah Lake have always tasted a little funny to me.
Whether or not you agree with me on the taste of Utah Lake fish, you’ll definitely agree that it’s home to some gargantuan catfish. The state record, caught in 1978, was nearly 40 inches long.
Bonus: Colorado pikeminnow
The Colorado pikeminnow is endangered, so don’t even think about catching one of these non-game fish now. If you happen to hook into one, please get it right back in the water immediately.
However, it’s worth noting that this unusual fish can reportedly reach up to 6 feet in length. There’s a monster species of fish here in Utah that can reach sturgeon-like sizes. The Colorado pikeminnow primarily lives in the Colorado, Green and San Juan rivers.
Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.