Conquering The Trout Royal Slam

Posted on in by Denis Isbister
Denis with the Bull Trout.

Denis with the Bull Trout.

Residing in the West, I never knew much about the International Game Fish Association, IGFA, so when my friend Mike Ortego from Fishing Florida Radio asked me about the Royal Trout Slam, I had no idea what it was all about. Mike brought the idea to our attention and said from what he knew I was really close to achieving this milestone. As we looked into the details of what it takes to fulfill the criteria for a Royal Trout Slam, Mike was right, I was only two fish away from tackling this goal. As designated by the IGFA the Trout Royal Slam consists of Rainbow, Brown, Lake or Mackinaw, Cutthroat, Bull, Brook and Golden Trout, all of these species were accounted for except a Bull and Golden Trout. With a filming trip for Wild Fish Wild Places planned for the Yukon just a few days later this seemed to be a great place to start the story of fulfilling the trout slam.

As the production crew and I departed for Whitehorse, we started to discuss the story and possibly taking down one more species of the slam, the Bull Trout, when my good friend and co-host, Dreu Murin, stating he already had everything on the list except a bull. With this news, the excitement of being able to accomplish a Trout Royal Slam in the next 5 days was a welcome addition to the story we weren’t expecting.

When we arrived at Inconnu Lodge, nestled along the shores of McEvoy Lake, about 180 miles northeast of Whitehorse, the filming and fishing strategy started to unfold amongst the crew. We started talking about Grayling, Pike, Lake Trout and Inconnu, but when Ken (head guide at Inconnu Lodge) brought up the Bull Trout we were all ears and started to discuss the plan of attack. The Bull Trout was once classified as a Dolly Varden, but has since been listed as a separate species and protected in most of the lower 48 states where present. The Bull Trout lives in cold deep lakes and move into the river systems after ice out to forage on baitfish and anything else that gets in its path as they are a veracious predator.

The plan for landing a Bull Trout was Upper Whitefish which consisted of a float plane ride to the lake where the camp had some canoes stashed near an old hunters cabin, then a 45 minute paddle into the river system and down to some deeper rocky pools wherethese elusive fish frequents during the summer months. When we arrived at the spot it was a long deep stretch of boulder strewn river just perfect for predatory fish waiting to ambush some unsuspecting prey. As Dreu and I made our way out into position we were throwing our NuCast 8 wt fly rods with a large articulated streamer hoping to draw some of the big fish up.

Dreu Murin with a nice lake trout caught while chasing bullies in the Yukon.

Dreu Murin with a nice lake trout caught while chasing bullies in the Yukon.

On the first cast I saw a big swirl in the crystal clear water and my fly disappeared! Fish on! As I started to yell, Dreu connected with his first fish as well, double hook up, first cast but it was a Lake Trout. Beautiful fish and great fun, but we had come for the Bull Trout. As we worked throughout the morning connecting with multiple lakers and Grayling we still needed to get a Bull Trout to the camera. Our guide Ken said “usually if you can get the Grayling excited the Bull Trout will start getting aggressive”. With that Ken started casting a dry fly hooking the sail fish of the north with every drift. Sure enough about 15 minutes after getting the Grayling going I had a nice take on my streamer and as it broke the surface our guide Rob and I both busted out…. “BULL”! As we landed the small Bull Trout for the camera, it was a very exciting moment and great to be one fish closer to the Trout Slam but Dreu was the one that needed the fish. As we worked that stretch of river over the boys decided we needed to work a little harder to get to place that hadn’t been fished in over 2 years due to the difficulty of hiking to the location. As we busted our way through the heavy Yukon bush we made our way to a beautiful looking spot with an island in the middle, good push of water and a deep hole at the tail end. I decided to work on the Grayling while Dreu pursued his quest for a Bull Trout. As the Grayling action couldn’t get much hotter, we had everyone jumping in to catch the little sailfish on dry flies, and then it happened, fish on! Dreu was connected and this far down river it was sure to be a Bull, the fish immediately went for current and made some impressive runs. Drue played the fish perfectly and landed his trophy to complete the Trout Royal Slam. It couldn’t have been a better story or more beautiful location.

For the entire list of different Slam’s” available through the IGFA, fresh and salt water, check them out online and get registered. Be sure to tune in to the World Fishing Network for these episodes and the season finale where I chase the final species for my slam, the Golden Trout.

Denis Isbister

Denis has traveled to many different countries in search of fishing adventure from the steaming jungles of the Amazon, to the remote Arctic wilderness of the Northwest.

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