SALT LAKE CITY — This year may have been an overall dismal year for most things, but it was a good year for fishing. In fact, 2020 was a banner year for a group of anglers who set new Utah fishing records.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recognized nine anglers this month who set a total of 10 new fishing records over the course of the past 12 months. The state's record book dates back to the early 1900s and contains 37 catch-and-release records, 33 catch-and-keep records, and 21 spearfishing records.
Craig Walker, aquatics assistant chief for DWR, called 2020 "somewhat of a record year" based on how many records were broken.
"I don't remember ever getting so many new ones in one year," he said in a statement earlier this month. "The primary reason that the DWR tracks record fish is to provide anglers with recognition of their achievements. However, the DWR also lists records as a way to inform anglers, who may be seeking their own trophy, of places they might want to fish."
The new entries from 2020 were:
- Largest black crappie (spearfishing category): 15¾ inches long and 12 inches girth, weighing in at 1 pound, 14 ounces. It was caught by Matt Turner at Deer Creek Reservoir on June 11.
- Longest Bear Lake cutthroat trout (catch-and-release category): 27½ inches caught by David MacKay at Bear Lake on May 25.
- Longest Colorado River cutthroat trout (catch-and-release category): 14 inches caught by Brian Olsen at Current Creek Reservoir on Sept. 5.
- Longest golden trout (catch-and-release category): 16½ inches long caught by Jonah Lewis at Marsh Lake on June 27.
- Largest kokanee salmon (spearfishing category): 22 inches long and 12¾ inches girth, weighing in at 4 pounds. It was caught by Scott Parsons at Fish Lake on Sept. 9.
- Largest lake trout (catch-and-keep category): 44⅛ inches long and 37⅞ inches girth, weighing in at 53 pounds, 15 ounces. It was caught by Chance Scott at Flaming Gorge on July 17.
- Longest splake (catch-and-release category): 34 inches caught by David MacKay at Fish Lake on May 8.
- Largest tiger muskie (spearfishing category): 50 inches long and 22⅞ inches girth, weighing in at 36 pounds, 6 ounces. It was caught by Maya Western at Fish Lake on Sept. 12.
- Longest wiper (catch-and-release category): 28 inches caught by Trevor Tippetts at Minersville Reservoir on Oct. 4.
- Longest Yellowstone cutthroat trout (catch-and-release category): 14 inches caught by Kelly Anderson at Johnson Creek on Oct. 3.
The records are determined by an online process. DWR officials said that catch-and-release records are determined after an angler submits a photo and measurements of the fish, with the information certified by a witness in writing.
Catch-and-keep records are determined by length and girth, as well as weight using a "certified commercial scale." The weighing needs to be witnessed and certified in writing by two witnesses who aren't members of an individual's fishing party or family, according to the agency.
"A Utah Division of Wildlife Resources employee must witness and certify in writing the species, total fish length and girth verification," officials added.
The number of records broken in 2020 doubled from last year. Some of those records — including longest splake, golden trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the catch-and-release category — were broken multiple times throughout the year.
For example, Michael Christiansen broke the Yellowstone cutthroat trout record on June 14 when he reeled in a 10½-inch fish at Johnson Creek. His record was broken by Samuel Jenkins, who caught a 12½-inch Yellowstone cutthroat trout at the left fork of Johnson Creek on July 8. The record was bested again when Kelly Anderson caught a 14-inch fish on Oct. 3 at the same creek.
For those interested, the full list of Utah's fishing records can be found here.