SHERIDAN — Four youth and two instructors with Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation recently completed a whirlwind trip around Wyoming to earn Cutt Slam certification.
“Normally people try to acquire this over periods of time,” explained Sheila Blackburn, executive director of Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation. “This group found it fun to try to get it done in a week which is pretty rare. These kiddos did it in a week which is pretty exciting.”
The Cutt Slam is a program operated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department that encourages anglers to pursue the four cutthroat trout species in their native ranges. Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation is a Sheridan-based organization that works with local youth to foster an appreciation for fly fishing and outdoor recreation through a mentorship program. The four youth who completed the Cutt Slam were Jade Smith, Demeriane Garriffa, Ben Romanjenko and Ashley Thompson.
“I’ve been working with Joey for a long time so he said ‘Want to go on a Cutt Slam?’ and I said ‘Sure!’” eighth-grader Smith said. “Not many people have done it so I figured it would be fun to do.”
Anglers must fill out an application and provide photos of themselves with their fish to receive certification.
The four species of cutthroat native to Wyoming are the Colorado River Cutthroat, the Bonneville or Bear River Cutthroat, the Snake River Cutthroat and the Yellowstone Cutthroat.
“It’s more of a challenge than just spin fishing,” Garriffa said about what he enjoys about fly fishing and attempting the Cutt Slam. “It was actually awesome. The hardest one was the Snake River cutthroat. That day the weather wasn’t that good, but we still eventually caught them. Ben was the first to finish and I was the second.”
Blackburn said although the trip itself was short, preparation for the adventure was a long time coming. The group traveled primarily through the western part of the state, including to Kemmerer and Jackson.
“It is quite an endeavor to get our kids educated and skilled enough to go out on this,” Blackburn said. “It is a pretty hard week where they are running pretty hard and they have to know what they are doing. It takes some time to prep them for this.”
“People come from all over the United States to accomplish this,” said Joey Puettman, founder and director of the foundation. “We’re pretty fortunate to have this in Wyoming and the people that created it.”
“This is very big,” he continued, about what the trip meant for the students. “They should be really proud. To catch a fish on a fly rod is tough enough, but to catch a specific fish, in a specific river at a specific time is very tough. You traditionally get one year to do this and we did it in four days.”
The Cutt Slam program is in its 17th year and a Riverton resident became the 1,000th person to receive the certification last week.