Got Rezzies?

I'd reserve judgment Curt. I've asked some biologists who specialize in this area for their input. Joe Jacquet for instance published a body of work several years ago sampling the stomach contents of sea run cutthroat in the south sound throughout the calendar year in various locations. In recent years when the resident Coho population was especially abundant, we took a lot of them home, and were very surprised to find them choked with herring in the 5-6 inch size. According to my recollection of Joe's work, these herring are not a major component of cutthroat fare.

Also, unlike cutthroat which are true residents Coho leave the area when food is scarce migrating north until until they find adequate forage, and have been observed in the Straits of Juan De Fuca. Cutties don't do that.

Again, like Roger, this is my personal observation based on a small and informal sampling size.

I am going to ask Joe and a couple of other professionals I know for their input on this subject, as they is more sophisticated on forage habits of both species than sport fishermen who are not authorized to pump the gullets of src's.


MA-9 Beach Stalker
Roger -
Thanks - I was hoping you would chime in; I respect your history, observations, and opinions on the fish and fisheries in south Sound.

Unfortuantely your observations seem to reinforce some of my concerns. That is on poor or marginal forage years planting more delayed released coho are unlikely to produce more south Sound "residents" and potentially increase interactions between those hatchery fish and the wild cutthroat.

Tight lines

From my observations resident coho are thick in the south Sound December through early May, feeding on amphipods mostly until they reach 13-14 inches then adding baitfish to their diet such as sandlance. During much of this time the mature spawning age cutthroat are dancing in and around their spawning creeks, so they are certainly not in constant competition for food. In late spring and early summer resident coho range further in their foraging and head into the north Sound and Straits of San Juan DeFuca depending on where the baitfish are concentrated. Meantime, the cutthroat have emerged from spawning and are staying put in their home waters feeding on the local offerings. Unlike the cutthroat, the resident coho have the mass eating gene that keeps them on the move to satisfy the need to put on weight and size as fast as possible. The time of year that I most frequently catch both resident coho and cutthroat in the south Sound is March-April, when the rezzies are just starting to switch to a baitfish diet.

In my opinion, the most valuable contribution of the south Sound resident coho program comes when these fish go into hyper feeding mode in July-August and provide spectacular fishing throughout Puget Sound. By this time the rezzies have reached 3-7 pounds, while the cutthroat stay close to home and maybe gain an inch or two in length during the year (prefering longevity over size). I just don't buy the argument that these two species have serious issues with competition for food as they have different survival strategies, feeding times, feeding zones and occupy distinct saltwater niches.
Interesting thread, full of measured and insightful posts,thank you. How many people take advantage of this fishery? Does anyone have the #ers? Is it worth the risk to the native populations? Do they compete with Puget sound Steelhead when they smolt? Just a few questions I had floating around in my head.



Active Member
To those of you who both support hatchery resident coho AND live on Bainbridge, Poulsbo, Kingston, or pass through the area: I just dropped off a hard copy of the petition at Penninsula Outfitters in Poulsbo. I talked with the shop owner and he is supportive of the effort. Please stop on by and sign the petition.

Although I can only comment locally (PNP through South Bainbridge...the only areas I fish), the data in my fishing log does not support the notion that hatchery resident coho populations have a significant impact on SRC catch frequency for cutties has remained solid over the past 7 years and yet the rezzie catches have varied dramatically.


Active Member
Don/Dimebrite/SciGuy -

I agree that once those resident coho get larger they convert to a bait fish diet and by the time they are 18 to 20 inches long they are fish eating machines. Further there south to north movement as young fish is largely food driven. By the time they usually reach MA 9/10 or points to the west they represent little threat to the cutthroat; those of us that fish those areas for those larger resdient fish have access to a wonderful fish (both on the rod and table) with little risk to our local mid and north sound cutthroat. However I suspect the section to the south is a different matter. It is while the coho are smaller that the potential over lap in diets in the coho and cutthroat is the greatest. It is also the most critical time for the cutthroat as the adult fish are preparing or recovering from spawning and the coho numbers are the highest. My sense is the if food resources are depleted the coho can move great distances while the cutthroat are not nearly as mobile.

One thing I have noticed with those larger summer resident coho in MA 10 is that every 4 or 5 years their diet during July/early August includes lots of salmon smolts. In the summer of 2005 every coho stomach I looked at in July or early August had at least one salmon smolt that could be identified - fortunately most of them were clipped but then most of the salmon from that area are hatchery fish.

Don -
I will be very interested in Joe's take on this whole issue.

Chris -
What little information that is available concerning steelhead smolts would indicate that those resident coho probably are not a big issue. Unlike the cutthroat the steelhead smolts generally are found in deeper water and are in the area for relatively short period of time.

I have been tracking the cutthroat of the "S" rivers for more than 30 years and the quality of the fishing is not only holding its own it has improved. 2010 was just an exceptional year with not only great numbers of fish I found a shocking portion of my catch being "large" fish. Using your logic about coho on the cutthroat based on your fishing I would have to say that neither the retention or the use of bait in river systems like the Skagit and Snohomish are not having adverse impacts on the cutthroat. I sure that all the readers here will agree with that conclusion; don't you?

Tight lines
I enjoy fishing for resident silvers but I love fishing for blackmouth. It is to bad that we have to choose between the two, not to long ago we had an abundance of both in south puget sound. If I had to choose between the two though I would have to vote for the enhancement of resident chinook in area 11 and 13. It is to bad that we are so low on the priority list here in southern puget sound that we have to fight to maintain or slightly increase an already terrible fishery compared to 30, 20 even 10 years ago. I hope the WDFW figures it out someday, until then I will be optimistically sitting by hoping for a decent run of fall kings this summer that more than likely won't show up, just as they have not in the past 4 or 5 years.
The state is not going to fund the enhancement of both and after reading the first page or two of posts I was just noticing that the push was to enhance the resident coho population. I was simply putting my 2 cents in that I would rather see more blackmouth in south puget sound than pulling more money from that resource and putting into resident silvers. Don your right we should not have to choose between either resident coho or blackmouth but you and I both know that the state is not going to substantly increase the amount of either fish population let alone both.
I don't buy the argument against hatcheries so I support more of them. We need something in place while we stabilize and improve habitats. Perhaps hatcheries give us genetically inferior fish but could it also be that they are providing a baseline fishery that will, over time, prove to help rather than hinder, the diminishing runs we are seeing.

Study a little about the research in human genetics and how adapative our genes are to environmental circumstances before you fully buy into the argument that wild fish are "designed" to endure. Genetic adapatation can occur much faster than we've ever thought.

More fish = more fishermen = more political base for strong fisheries. Yes to Resident Silver supplementation.



Active Member
JR -
You are correct of course the natural selection process is constantly in action to adapt the genetics of population to the local enviroment. And yes even mal-adapted hatchery fish under natural selection with adpat to the environment and be come more productive in that environment if given the chance. However the key is if given the chance. The constant infusion of those hatchery fish (especially at high levels) into the spawning population insures that the natural selection will not be effective (most of the spawners will not have undergone selection by the environment) and the resulting will have a reduced prodcutivity. That will continue to be the case until that infusion of hatchery fish spawning with the wild fish ends. While means ending the release of hatchery fish or somehow greatly reducing (ending) the interaction of those hatchery fish with those that are constantly undergo that natural selection process.

However the major point here is not the spawning of the delayed hatchery released coho and whether they will be productive or not but rather will increased numbers in the releases of those coho increase competition with the wild sea-run cutthroat. And secondarily will releasing more coho mean more resident coho? To put it another way how often is the numbers of those fish opting to rear in the sound (and specifically south Sound) not currently limited by available food resources in that period following the releases?

Tight lines
How long shall we let the petitions soak before hauling them back in? Any clue on how many signatures we have so far?
I don't have a current count, but we've had a good response. The next meeting of the oversight committee is October 4, and the "statements of interest" will be presented at that time. You can mail any signatures collected to the conservation committee at the address below. Please mail before the end of September, but soon is best.

In addition to a commitment to participate in the fishery, we need to show what's actually going on in the sound at present. We'll be collecting catch data on current releases so we can present some idea of how many coho are caught compared to released, and where they go, what they are eating, etc. Stay tuned, we'll be organizing that effort plus some "Fish In" days through area clubs and shops.

All this data will be considered in planning for future stocking, including impacts on other species such as cutthroat, blackmouth, any wild stocks and available forage.

Mail to:
South Sound Fly Fishers
Resident Coho Project
PO Box 2792
Olympia, WA 98507
Re: Got Rezzies?

Quote Originally Posted by TomB View Post
I am against the expansion of this program because of its deleterious impacts on wild populations.
How much do you know about this program? Do you you realize that both blackmouth and Coho are raised and late released for providing resident winter fishing using Puget Sound Recreational Enhancement Funds?? That The same amount of money will be spent on a mixed program regardless the ratio of each species, so that increasing Coho numbers reduces the quantity of Chinook? What is the relative impact of Coho/blackmouth on food resources and habitat in competition with "wild species".?

Do you have any specific data we can use to document the "deleterious impacts on wild populations"? We are crying for reliable information with which to create management and restoration plans, so if you have something concrete, please share it so we can make decisions based on good science as well as good intentions.


MA-9 Beach Stalker
I dropped off a bunch of petitions at TED's in Lynnwood earlier this month. I'm planning on picking them up and mailing them in late July or early August unless Don needs them sooner. I need to drop by Avid Angler to see how the signing is going. I hope other WFF members will seriously consider gathering a few signatures as well at their favorite fishing shop or club.

The process of getting this done in Olympia is tough and we need to give Don all the ammo (signatures) we can.