Steamboat fishing guide reels in potential record trout in North Routt

CPW has no record of larger fish, but verification will take time

Brady Wettlaufer celebrates his potential record-breaking Rainbow Trout at Steamboat Lake on Monday, August 8, 2022.
Brady Wettlaufer/Courtesy photo

It is not every day in the fishing world that you come across a Rainbow Trout that could earn you a Master Angler Award. It is even less common to reel in a record-breaking Rainbow as you are heading back to shore.

Brady Wettlaufer accomplished both feats after reeling in a 26.5 inch, 12.5 pound Rainbow Trout at Steamboat Lake to earn a potential lake-record on Monday, Aug. 8. 

Wettlaufer, owner of Steamboat Fishing Adventures, was out on Steamboat Lake with a couple clients. He had guided four trips already that day on Steamboat Lake and was exhausted.

He was on his way back to the dock and decided to throw out a line in the shallows of the lake to end his day. 

Eventually, Wettlaufer hooked a trout, reeled it in and noticed something in its mouth before releasing it back in the water. 

“I caught a Rainbow and when I was getting it out of the net, it regurgitated a small, what looked like a perch-pattern minnow, and so I switched to a dynamic perch-pattern minnow and it wasn’t a few hours later and I hooked that fish,” Wettlaufer said. 

One of the coolest qualities of an angler, in Wettlaufer’s opinion, is having the ability to read the water and read the fish. 

By identifying any trends like what they’re doing and what they’re eating, you can match that with your fishing techniques and according to Wettlaufer, it can pay dividends. 

Wettlaufer and his client high-five after releasing a potential record-breaking Rainbow Trout back into Steamboat Lake on Monday, August 8, 2022.
Brady Wettlaufer/Courtesy photo

Changing his lure made all the difference and immediately after hooking the fish, he could tell he was in for a battle. It took somewhere between eight and 10 minutes, but for Wettlaufer it was time well spent. 

“It took out line like crazy and actually spooled me and got all the way out,” Wettlaufer said. I “threw the boat in reverse and was able to reverse on it and gang up on him a little bit and kept tension on him the whole time. It was just picture perfect and then kicked the boat in neutral and kept tension on him and before you knew it, there he was in the net.”

Wettlaufer caught a glimpse of the trout’s profile while reeling it in with his new Eagle Claw rod and said he got weak in the knees. He had never seen a fish so massive.

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The lure was hooked deep in the corner of the fish’s mouth and ran down the side of its face. This made it easy for Wettlaufer to remove the hook and get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible. 

“With a fish having a mouth that big, I’m surprised he didn’t inhale it but I’m happy that he didn’t because I was able to get it out really quick and then not handle it as much and get him back out into the water,” Wettlaufer said. 

Before releasing it, Wettlaufer took some pictures and videos, got measurements on it and weighed it with the scale he had on board. 

He submitted the necessary information to Colorado Parks and Wildlife which is in the verification process of confirming the fish as a record breaking Rainbow Trout in Steamboat Lake.

Wettlaufer says that the CPW has no record of any larger Rainbow Trout being caught in Steamboat Lake but says the confirmation process could take a while. 

Having fished so many times in the reservoir, Wettlaufer noticed several trends with the strategies that other anglers use in the lake. They often jump in their boats and head to the far side of the lake to fish.

Wettlaufer believes the dock area is an extremely overlooked place, especially because the shallow waters are where trout are able to feed on crayfish and minnows. It only goes about three feet deep, but can result in catching massive trout.

“I have been fishing these waters for 22 years, seven years professionally, and never have I seen a Rainbow like this,” Wettlaufer said. “It’s the largest trout I have ever seen, it’s the largest trout I have ever put my hands on.”

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