Bottom types and shoreline structures which tend to "hold" sea-run cutthroat

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Roger Stephens, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Roger Stephens

    Roger Stephens Active Member

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    When good tidal current(moderate) and suitable bottom type/ shoreline structure are found at a location, it will probably be a prime spot where sea-run cutthroat will consistently "hang out". Bottom type and shoreline structure are important to allow sea-run cutthroat to be able to "tuck in and sit tight" out of the current as they wait for a "meal" to come by.

    BOTTOM TYPES

    1. COBBLE(+2"): Excellent. Quite often cobbly beaches will have current which sea-run cutthroat like. In most cases, sea-run cutthroat tend to "sit" right on the bottom where there is less current due to the bottom roughness.

    2. GRAVEL(less than 1"): Good. Gravel beaches many times do not have much current.

    3. COBBLE/GRAVEL: Exellent(PRIME). In many cases there are larger areas(10 sq. ft.) of gravel depressions interspersed along a cobble beach. The sea-run cutthroat will "sit" in these depressions. In many cases, these depressions will form on top of cobble/gravel bars.

    4. SAND(less than 1/8"): Okay. It is generally not a good area for sea-run cutthroat since these areas invariably have little/no current. If sand shrimp are present, sea-run cutthroat can be found there sometimes.

    MAJOR SHORELINE STRUCTURES

    1. COBBLE/GRAVEL BARS: Excellent(PRIME). If the tidal current is moderate, the sea-run cutthroat can be "sitting" almost anywhere on the cobble/gravel bar. The sea-run cutthroat can be found "sitting" on the up current side("softer water"), on top of bar(depressions), and down current side(standing wave). It is best to anchor the boat or go ashore and carefully fish the area while slowly working out into the deeper area of the bar. In most cases, the sea-run cutthroat will be found in 3 to 6 ft. of water. If there are sand lance being swept over the bar, the sea-run cutthroat will be in hot pursuit chasing these bait fish down current.

    2. POINTS: Excellent(PRIME). There will almost always be a current seam present at the tip of the point. Plus, there is usually an area of "softer water" before the point if there is strong current at the point.

    3. SHELVES: Good. They generally cover a fairly broad area(+ 2,000 sq. ft.) Usually consist of a cobble/gravel bottom or in a few instances a compacted sedimentary layer interspersed with cobble/gravel bottom.

    4. GENTLY SLOPING BEACHES: Good. They are better than steep sloping beaches.

    MINOR SHORELINE STRUCTURES

    1. DEPRESSIONS(greater than 1 ft. deep and 10 sq. ft. or larger): Excellent(PRIME). Depressions are by far the most important minor shoreline structure. There are numerous places that depressions are found along shorelines. A few examples are given: (1) where a ephemeral stream washs a small channel(1 or 2ft. or deeper) across a beach, (2) down current side of logs(buried or unburied), (3) current scour on top of a cobble/gravel bar or along a beach,(4) current scour on edge of compacted sedimentary layer, (5) current scour on edge of matting over clam beds, etc.

    2. ROCKS AND BOULDERS: Good. These areas can be hit and miss since sometimes sea-run cutthroat are there and other times not. Their presence may be be dependent on the stage of the tide.

    3. MAN-MADE/ AQUACULTURE STRUCTURES: Good. Examples are: (1) wood cribbing dikes, and (2) oyster beds.

    CONCLUSIONS

    Tidal current attracts sea-run cutthroat to a location while the bottom type and shoreline structure tends to allow them to "stay put" at the location. Consistently "prime" sea-run cutthroat locations are those spots which have the optimum combination of current, bottom type, and shoreline structure.

    The elusive sea-run cutthroat are frequently found along a beach one day and gone the next but there are numerous beaches which consistly "hold" them. The joy/challenge of fishing for sea-run cutthroat on Puget Sound is that every day is different in the "hunt and seek" game to find out where they might be "hanging out" each fishing trip!

    Roger
     
  2. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member

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    Great Information!
    I find many SRC's on oyster beds and around them. Seems like a magnet for them.
    I tend to catch more fish on beaches without a bulkhead or other structures. Sad to say that this is becoming scarcer. These areas where the Salt has been left naturally is a real hot spot for SRC's.
    Chris
     
  3. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

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    Always check out beaches at low tide. You'll then know where the structure is when you are casting at high tide.
    Good Fishing,
    Les
     
  4. gigharborflyfisher

    gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

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    I second oyster beds, they are always worth checking. Thanks for another great post.
     
  5. tomc

    tomc Member

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    Wow, You described Hamersley Inlet perfectly. Hint hint, and the tides this weekend are PERFECT. See you there. :beer2:
     
  6. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    Hey tomc, You just might see me there! I'll be exploring my way in very early from the east by canoe if i go. Powered by MinnKota Riptide 50 and two batteries (one spare). Have oarlocks on my canoe so I can keep two paddles in the water at once if I need to. Looks like quite a runnout to a minus tide. Should be fun dealing with the current.:thumb:

    Jimbo
     
  7. Nick Andrews

    Nick Andrews New Member

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    So when can I buy the book????
     
  8. miyawaki

    miyawaki Active Member

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    If any of you guys want to meet Roger in person and check out his tricked out Puget Sound flyfishing boat, they will both be at Orvis Days on Saturday, May 6 at 1pm.

    Leland.
     
  9. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    Great Info, Thanks Roger!
    It helped me put together a successful attack on a S. Sound shoreline Saturday morning. My partner for the day didn't make it to the rendevous, but I was committed, and the rain let up long enough for me to launch and get going.Cold and rainy as it became as the morning progressed, the strong gusty 20 -30 knot winds forecast never materialized where I was at on the lee (north) side of a landmass, and I was able to safely cruise a few miles of the inlet's shoreline in my 13' canoe, sometimes in near glassy conditions, although I had to deal at times with heading against a strong ebb current of 2 - 3 knots. My 50# thrust electric motor did the job nicely.
    The deep dropoffs along the clay cliffs (it was a very high tide, 13 ft. +), bulkhead fronted banks, and steep beaches I cruised along as I left the launch yielded nothing as I trolled as close to them as I could (starting at the high tide change at 6:45am), and still could not see bottom.
    First fish was from the back end of a sandy/gravel bottom cove, near a downed tree. Was trolling an #6 olive/pink/white streamer (baitfish imitation) with an intermediate line(on cheap 6 wt rod/Medalist reel), I picked up the line and cast it in along the downed tree and the fish hit as I was giving the fly a little jiggly action as it trolled away from the tree. Very nice bright 13" fish and a very hard fighting acrobatic one.

    Didn't get another one for awhile, as I was fighting the heavy ebb, so I tied on some fresh 6# test leader and a Chum Baby and powered "upstream" til I reached my intended destination at the mouth of a large creek that had a small estuary out of the ebb current of the main inlet I was cruising. The creek's current picked up alot of speed as it joined the bigger ebb and the combined current created a good rip with some soft water eddying against the bank. I picked up a nice bright 11" fish here, just as I was entering the small estuary. I made it into the softer water dropped anchor and played and released the acrobatic fish. The bottom was mainly gravelly, with only a few cobbles interspersed, a few oysters(private tidelands), shallower, and with a more gently sloping bottom than out in the inlet.

    I made a cast to just inside the edge of the faster current along the estuary's mouth, along the seam, and let my fly swing a ways as it sank right into the last eddying edges of the softer flowing estuary water before the merging outgoing currents sucked everything around the small point. Then, after letting the fly hang there briefly in that last "tailout" section of the estuary mouth, I stripped it in with erratic short quick strips. A good yank turned into another nice searun cutthroat, which managed to get itself unhooked after getting my adrenalin going.
    This turned out to be the money water! It was about 4 -5 feet deep becoming shallower as the fly swung toward the moderately sloping gravel point that defined that "downstream" side of the estuary's mouth. I had heard rumors of a chum run in the creek that feeds it, and also rumors of chum fry sightings near there a week ago. I didn't see any baitfish of any kind, though.

    I brought another 4 or 5 to hand here, the biggest almost 15 inches, and one of them a colorful little 8"er. All on one Chum Baby tied by Bob himself.
    Finally the cold and rain got to me and I quit at 1 pm and headed back toward the ramp, speeding along in the rip, but pausing to cast at a nice little rip-seam/eddy setup along the gravel beach behind a small point, gently sloping to 3 feet deep, and getting rewarded with one more hard fighting 12"er.
    They seemed to like to stay out of the heavy ebb current (14 foot runnout from high to low on Saturday) and the places where I found fish had gentler sloping, mainly gravel bottoms. There's more to check out in that area, and I'm going back!

    Jimbo
     
  10. cascade kid

    cascade kid New Member

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    Unbelievable.
     
  11. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    Yes, it is almost unbelievable how you can read some good information posted by knowledgable people on this website, put that together with what you already know, conduct some research on logistics/access/destinations/etc, and construct a workable plan that gets you out exploring a place you've never fished before, and have a great experience actually finding and catching your intended quarry.:cool: Just do it!
    I used maps, aerial photos of the shoreline, tide guides, current charts, and a guidebook to S Sound beaches, as well as some word-of-mouth tips and a good fly pattern.:ray1:

    Thanks again everyone for sharing!:thumb:

    Jimbo
     
  12. CHARLIE NORTON

    CHARLIE NORTON New Member

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    Roger--I am very curious about something. During the course of hundreds of hours we spent together, figuring out the South Sound fishery, we constantly discussed the fact that it is a fragile fishery and never should be exploited for commercial or personal gain. What happened?

    Yours----Charlie Norton
     
  13. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

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    Hi Charlie,
    You are right. Our anadromous coastal cutthroat are and always have been a fragile resource. However, I don't believe that improving people's knowlege about them as Roger is doing is in and of itself going to depress our cutthroat stocks, or the fishery. As you'll notice, he doesn't tell people where the cutthroat are.
    Usually, people who learn about the cutthroat beyond the point of simply asking, "where can I find some SRC's?" are generally people who tend to become stewards of these great, wild sea-run trout and do not hammer on them relentlessly.
    This season has probably seen the most pressure on cutthroats in saltwater in years. The most likely reason is that we had generally smaller chum salmon runs into Puget Sound and steelhead are in such bad shape that there is a possible ESA listing going to be put in place. This leaves the cutthroat in south Puget Sound as the only available salmonid to go after through the winter. With the basin and Okanogan lakes opening up and a June 1 opening for our rivers, pressure on the coastal cutthroat in the salt should ease up a bit.
    If I see the cutthroat fishing reach a point where it appears that they are losing the ground we've gained for them the past several years with slot limits in the rivers and C&R in marine waters, I'll start a drive to close the entire fishery. You can count on that. If everyone exercises a bit of common sense and sportsmanlike restraint however, such a harsh measure should never become neccessary.
    Hope to see you soon. I'm at Orvis Bellevue a couple of days a week.
    Cheers,
    Les
     
  14. Steve Rohrbach

    Steve Rohrbach Puget Sound Fly Fisher

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    Les, thank you for providing a voice of reason. Our Coastal Cutthroat are a treasure that we need to protect. I watched a small estuary in the south sound explode this weekend as the multitudes of chum fry were attacked by swarming cutthroat. It was so amazing that we actually stopped fishing to watch these large cutthroat launch totally out of the water following the frantic fry. It is a moment that I will never forget.

    Thank you for all that you do to keep us mindful of our responsibilities. I know and respect Roger as someone who shares those same values.

    Best regards, Steve
     
  15. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    Roger does a quality job of sharing good information for committed steward / anglers. And he does not sell-out our precious wild sea-run fish cheaply with a "where to go and how to do it" approach. Much less profit monetarily from it in any big way. You can read all you like, but you still have to go do the work. And it's a life's work getting to know and respect these wild fish.
     
  16. cascade kid

    cascade kid New Member

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    Steve, this statement implies there was a lack of reason by Mr. Norton. You obviously don't know this fine man. I know both he and Mr. Stephens pretty well and have fished with both since the early '90s. Charlie has an opinion that you obviously don't share but is perfectly reasonable to many of us. To publicise less-hammered fisheries on the internet is not smart. In a region with a multi-million populace, even if a tiny, tiny fraction pays attention it will destroy the best thing about the fishery-- solitude. This is a fragile fishery with fragile fish that and doesn't need this publicity. If you want it, earn it. Seek it out and learn it all on your own-- that is half the fun!

    I do. More fishing pressure means more fish hooked and released. Some of them die. That's an easy thing to overlook. Dead fish equal depressed fish.

    That's interesting. The #1 promoter of the fishery is now trying to limit it/shut it down. Like a certain oilman president promoting energy conservation!

    Charlie has a valid point. It may not be the one you share but it is the one shared by many (the silent majority you're not going to hear on the 'net very much). I think his post was about friendship and duplicity as much as anything else.

    Sincerely,
    James Roberts
     
  17. salt dog

    salt dog card shark

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    Roger,

    Thanks for the clear elucidation of some of the fundamental points of your / our craft. I always enjoy and look forward to reading your modest, yet extremely thoughtful posts.

    I do not think it is necessary to respond to your detractors; your thoughts on the subject speak well for themselves and need no defense. Thanks again.
     

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