Baitfish question, and Narrows report


Active Member
I fished the west Narrows on Tuesday afternoon at the very end of the outgoing tide and was rewarded with my first SRC in the salt with a sand lance pattern. It was a healthy, beautiful (unmeasured) fish. The two hour window of fishing opportunity was also rewarded with sightings of eagles, feeding kingfishers, and more baitfish than I've ever seen in this region.

My question is regarding the nature of these sand lance and/or salmon fry. There seemed to be many jumping out of the water without evidence of a clear predator in the area. Often this was occurring within a few feet of me. I couldn't appreciate a food source they were chasing and it sure didn't look like they were being pursued by anything. Are they feeding, being chased or just happy to be alive? I think I would recognize if a school of fish were being disrupted by predators (like in Roger's recent post), but there were quite a number jumping sporadically.


Be the guide...
I've seen this too. Fish just jump. Does there always need to be a reason? Maybe they practice jump when nothing is wrong, so they are really good at it when it really matters....

Congratutions on your first sea-run cutthroat. They are a very special, beautiful fish!

I'll give you my thoughts for whatever they are worth about your questions but it must be remembered that many aspects of fly fishing on Puget Sound are not "set in concrete" and are ever changing.

The sand lance which I have been seeing lately are in the 2 1/2 to 3"(measured) size range while the chum fry have been 1 1/2 to 1 3/4"(estimated) size range. I have rarely seen sand lance jumping out of the water unless being chased by salmon or sea-run cutthroat. So I suspect that you were seeing chum fry if the bait fish were in the 1 1/2 to 1 3/4" size range. When sand lance and chum fry are being chased up to the water surface by salmon or sea-run cutthroat, you will almost always see evidence of salmon or sea-run cutthroat boiling or slashing on the water surface or bait fish spraying out of the water.

This past month there has been a unlimited buffet of chum fry and, in particular, sand lance for salmon and sea-run cutthroat to feast on. With all the bait fish around it is a fun hunt and seek game to find out where salmon and sea-run cutthroat might be hanging out which means covering a lot of water some days.



Active Member
I guess I'll just attribute it to classic behavior of youngsters testing their boundaries.

* posted this before seeing Roger's reply...You're correct, by your description these were chum fry.


Active Member
I spent a couple hours walking a lot, casting a little, and napping a few at the Narrows today. It's really something to see the out-migration of salmon this time of year. The numbers are awesome and yet, relatively few return.

It's funny, I used to think breaching adult salmon were shaking off sea lice, loosening egg skeins, tasting their natal waters etc. But when you see the little guts leaping about, the term, "happy jumping" seems to be right on.