SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's fishing records continue to fall.
Officials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Monday that a 31-inch Bear Lake cutthroat trout caught in January officially broke a state record for largest of the species caught and released in the state.
Travis Hobbs caught the fish at Bear Lake on Jan. 17, according to the agency. His catch broke the previous Bear Lake cutthroat trout catch-and-release record of 27 ½ inches set by David MacKay on May 25, 2020.
State wildlife officials have a record book of fish caught in the state. It features dozens of catch-and-keep, catch-and-release, spearfishing, setline and archery fishing records.
MacKay's previous Bear Lake cutthroat trout record was one of 10 new Utah fishing records that had been set in 2020. DWR officials said in December that they couldn't remember the last time that many records were broken in a year.
Speaking of those records, MacKay still holds the largest splake trout caught in the state: a 34-inch splake caught at Fish Lake on May 8, 2020.
Mac Attack Fishing Derby returns after 2020 event canceled
Meanwhile, the Mac Attack Fishing Derby, a fishing event at Flaming Gorge, will return later this month after last year's event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The event was created just two years ago to encourage anglers to target and harvest small lake trout. Utah's DWR teamed up with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Flaming Gorge Chamber of Commerce to create the event in 2019 as a way to incentivize the need to remove trout under 25 inches in length caught at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
The reservoir's abundant small trout population has led to concerns with salmon, rainbow trout and other populations that larger trout feed off of. Ryan Mosley, DWR lead fisheries biologist at Flaming Gorge, said that the size of 8-year-old lake trout has shrunk more than a half-foot over the past couple of decades.
"On top of the decreased length, the number of small lake trout in the reservoir has increased and we're concerned the situation is going to get worse," he added, in a statement Monday. "We're managing for a balanced fishery of predators and prey, and currently, there are too many predators. Reducing the number of small lake trout now will mean healthier lake trout in the future, while also increasing the survival of trout and salmon that are highly sought after by anglers. They're already growing slower and unless we can 'thin the herd,' it will only get worse."
This year's event is scheduled for April 24-25 and is open to boating and shoreline anglers. An angler can submit 12 lake trout less than 25 inches in size on both days of the tournament. An angler is only allowed to keep one fish exceeding 28 inches each day of the tournament.
"We hope efforts like this derby serve as an educational opportunity to address growing concerns about lake trout and the overall health of the fisher at Flaming Gorge," Mosley added.
The cost to enter is $100 per team, according to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. There are monetary rewards for winning teams. More rules about the event entry and winnings can be found on the agency's website.
A link to enter the event can also be found here.