24" SRC in Doubt

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Bugthrower, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. Bugthrower Willits

    Posts: 141
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    I hear about the infamous 24" Cutthroat a few times a year, yet I've never seen a picture of one(at least one that I thought was even remotely close). I'm not saying they don't exist, but I don't think most anglers realize how giant a 24" trout really is, for that matter do they realize how infrequent it is to catch a fish(SRC) thats over 20". Just to put it in perspective for those of you who salmon fish, a 22" blackmouth is legal, can you even imagine a SRC that is legal Chinook size? There seems to be a barrier at 20" for searuns, I've caught many fish at 18-19.5, but have only seen a very few that were taped at over 20".
    Can anyone produce a photo that proves thet exist?
  2. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    During the filming of our long gone television series, "Fly Fishing Northwest" on the mainstem Stillaguamish River I landed the last fish of the day, a 26-inch cutthroat. It was caught on video but not on film. It was the largest cutthroat I had ever seen in 4 decades of cutthroat fishing.
    After the program aired, Curt Kraemer contacted me and suggested that it may have been a cutthroat/Deer Creek steelhead hybrid. I did not check its back teeth which Curt noted may have not been pronounced, which would confirm that it was a hybrid. However it looked exactly like a cutthroat.
    Curt further noted that after about 20-inches, a trophy cutthroat in every respect there seems to be a jump to the 24-26 inch mark indicating that there may be more hybrids out there than we realize. I covered this in my book as well. In any event, any cutthroat over 18-inches should be considered a trophy.
  3. MasterAnglerTaylor Member

    Posts: 749
    Poulsbo/Pullman, WA
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    Ill be back in few hours and prove it :)
  4. Jon Borcherding New Member

    Posts: 535
    Tacoma, WA
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    Go Get 'Em MAT!
    (and don't forget the camera):thumb:

  5. Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

    Posts: 6,440
    Duvall, wa
    Ratings: +1,618 / 2
    you could get two 12" cutthroat, and tape them together
  6. Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator

    Posts: 1,860
    Somewhere you don't know about, WA
    Ratings: +53 / 1
    The state record had to be over 24" @ 6 pounds. They are very rare!
  7. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,045
    Seattle, WA, USA.
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  8. D3Smartie Active Member

    Posts: 1,987
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    over 20 for sure... difinitive proof over 24" no. The fish I got on 10-8 is as close as I have to proof of a 24 inch fish.
  9. D3Smartie Active Member

    Posts: 1,987
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    Les- What should one look for in a hybrid?
  10. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
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    According to Curt Kraemer, the only easily recognized difference you can go with, other than taking scale samples, is to check the hyoid teeth ( these teeth may have been renamed), a circle of teeth well back on the roof of a cutthroat's mouth. They are very sharp in a cutthroat and less pronounced in a hybrid. Other than that, the hybrids cannot be easily diferentiated from a pure cutthroat.
    Also, there is antecdotal evidence that trophy cutthroat seem to top out at about 20-inches. Then there is a jump to the 24-26-inchers. This absence of 21-23-inch cutthroat seems to indicate that the jump in size may be due to hybridization with summer steelhead. Years ago, Steve Raymond and a group of his fishing pals used to measure almost every cutthroat they caught in the salt. They compiled this informatiion for years and came up with a pretty darned comprehensive record of the size of cutthroat. When Steve moved to Whidbey Island upon retirement from the Times, unfortunately he misplaced the records. This is not completely scientific but after so many years fishing for coastal cutthroat it is in line with my own experience.
    I hope this helps.
  11. D3Smartie Active Member

    Posts: 1,987
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    I too have caught very few fish over 20 inches. Usually the ones that look the oldest are anything over 17 inches. I did catch some really big cutts last year up to 24" and one fish that was 22" and several more that were 20-21. After years of cutts being killed i wonder if this is just a product of the fish living longer, more hybrids around or just getting lucky...
    when i was about 8 yrs old i caught one that was 23 inches that my friend and i killed. That was the last encounter with a fish of that size class i had.
  12. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,797
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +653 / 0
    Some observations about large sea-run cutthroat.

    First coastal cutthroat can get quite large - have seen a number that were well in excess of 24 inches with several in that 26 to 28 inch size. However each were adfuvial (lake run fish). Those larger fish were all significantly younger than that I would associate with sea-run fish. Also it is my understanding that some of the cutts of the California salt lagoons get quite large.

    However in this part of the world (north Puget Sound) a true sea-run cutthroat of 20 inches is a very rare critter. In a lifetime of chasing sea-runs and steelhead I have caught about the same number of bona fide steelhead over 20#s as I have sea-runs over 20" (and anglers are likely to "stretch" the size of both). Though Iin fairness I should mention that I have caught a lot more cutts than steelhead.

    Our sea-runs are typically pretty slow growing. Based on the scales that I have looked at I expect an 18 inch to take 2 moer growing seasons to exceed 20 inches. Which brings to the point of the potential of those exceptional large fish potentiallly being hybirds. While the large sea-run I have personally caught is a little over 21 inches I have seen several "sea-runs" in that 23 to 25 inch. What I find striking is that I have seen way more fish over 23 inches long than I have between 21 and 23 inches. That does not make sense to me. With the slow growing nature of our sea-runs it should take a couple of years for the fish to grow from 20 to 23 inches and therefore should be way more fish that size than those larger than 23 inches. The most likely explaination is that those larger fish are somehow different and being hybrids makes the best sense.

    We know that the sea-runs and steelhead can and do hybridize. Interestily we find way more juvenile hybrids that adult hybrids. The appear to be at some survival disadvantage. The kinds of habitats were on would expect to most likely seen hybrids is where either the cutts or steelhead or in low spawning abundances. Most typically that will be in small independent streams with a decent cuttrhoat populations and few steelhead. That habitat is most commonly found in South, Central sound and Hood Canal which are the areas one is most likely to encounter those exceptional sized fish.

    The only sure way to differentiate between a sea-run and a hybrid would be through genetic testing - with the juvenile fish even the most experienced field bio mis-IDs the hybrids a surprising number of times. As Les mentions the most obvious characteristic to look at maybe those teeth on the back of the tongue - cutthroat have them, steelhead/rainbows do not, and hybrids would have some. One of the things that compound ID those larger fish that all that I can recall were males.

    Hopefully some day someone will be able to collect a genetic sample from one of the exceptionally sized fish and we can get a clearer answer to the question of what those fish are rather than my somewhat educated guess. In the mean time I continue to enjoy each and every cutt that I encounter and having a 20 inch class sea-run roll up on my fly continues to be one of my all time angling thrills.

    Tight lines
  13. D3Smartie Active Member

    Posts: 1,987
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    Curt- very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
  14. salt dog card shark

    Posts: 2,306
    Edmonds WA / Mazama
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    It's always so difficult to post after Curt or Les have, other than to say thanks for the lesson professors. :ray1:

    This is certainly consistent with my modest experience; in 6 years I have caught only one tape measured 21" SeaRun, and 17-19 inch cutthroat are normally the apex of the populations I fish over, and still a rare enough catch to make me completely full of myself for the day.

    Would be a real memorable treat to hook into one of the fabled 23-26 inchers for sure, hybrid or not; the 21" had me thinking it was a salmon when I first saw it's width and by the bend in my rod and chatter of the reel.
  15. Preston Active Member

    Posts: 2,458
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    The teeth at the base of the tongue are basibranchial teeth which were formerly called hyoid teeth. They occur in a triangular patch toward the back of the tongue and are quite noticeable (and sharp) if your finger comes in contact with them. They occur in all cutthroat subspecies but not in rainbow/steelhead, and often in a reduced form in cutthroat/rainbow hybrids.

    In many, many years of sea-run cutthroat fishing in both fresh and salt water I have only caught one that exceeded twenty inches and that by only about an an inch. According to Pat Trotter, in his contribution to Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout: Biology, Management and Future Conservation (Proceedings of the Sea-Run Cutthroat Symposium, Reedsport OR, 1995), "...these fish seldom live beyond age 7 or 8 nor grow much beyond 500 mm in fork length. The oldest sea-run cutthroat ever reported was an age-10 fish srom Sand Creek, Oregon (Sumner 1962), and the largest weight of which I am aware is the Washington State hook-and-line record, a 2.724 kg. fish captured in Carr Inlet of Puget Sound in May 1943." For the metrically challenged 500 mm = 19.685 in. and 2.724 kg = 6.0054 lb.
  16. HogWrangler Member

    Posts: 332
    Stanwood WA
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    I remember going with my dad to visit Walt Johnson when he was still alive, I was just a young naive kid who knew nothing about fishing or who he was other than a nice guy, and I went up to his tying room and he had a BIG fish on his wall. My dad told me later that it was a cutthroat that he hooked out of the Stilliguamish. I don't remember if it was 2 feet long or not but it was big. Any one else who knew him ever see that mount?
  17. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    up here in AK resident coastal cutts can get prett freaking big, theres a bunch of lakes that the minimum size to keep one is 25"
  18. Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

    Posts: 2,558
    Quesnel, BC
    Ratings: +319 / 0
    I have seen one fish that was 21 inches that I caught down by the lower Stilly concrete plant beside the big stump in middle of the river. I have seen several that are 18-19 inches.

    That is the closest I have seen. I believe they exist though.
  19. greyghost Member

    Posts: 507
    Coastal Rivers, OR
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I've also never seen one much over 20". I catch a few every year that go between 17-19", but I've only caught one that I believe was just past the 20" mark. A couple of years ago I started looking through seining and trapping studies and saw that every fish recorded in those studies was less than 500 mm (19.7") as Preston stated earlier. Bring on those photos!
  20. Tony Tony

    Posts: 497
    Lynnwood Wa
    Ratings: +53 / 0
    I wish I had remembered my camera the fish I caught yesterday was taped though as best as I could without removing it from the water, it wasn't chunky but it sure was long. I don't have as much experience as alot of you nor have I the knowledge that the combined years of fishing our waters for cutthroat that some of you bring to the table but I can say I caught one last year off of southworth that if anything was bigger, I mean this was a beefy fish I thought it was a salmon until I saw the slashes under its jaw, a guy fishing gear said to me thats a keeper no I said thats a cutthroat and then explained the regs to him as I released it.