Bull trout in the salt? Anybody out there targeting these?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Shaunzo, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. Shaunzo New Member

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    I know there was a thread on this a few months ago but I'm trying to get a little more information. It seems like most people stumble upon them while targeting sea-run cutthroat. I'm wondering if anybody is specifically going after these fish in the salt. I've got a pretty good idea for a game plan but would appreciate any information you guys might have. Thanks.
  2. Josh P Member

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    You looking for Dollys? Bull Trout are illegal to target in Washington State and considering they don't go to the salt I would assume you mean Dolly Varden.
  3. jonbackman Member

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    Mt. Vernon
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    I may be wrong(it's happened before) but I believe it is the bulls that are anadromous, while dolly varden are normally restricted to the freshwater, often much further upstream. As for whether it is legal to target the seagoing of these two, that it up to debate. I know guys who catch them from the beach. I will say that if you are fishing around Tacoma, you should probably set your sites on SRC's and resident coho.
  4. nutsack angler newb

    Posts: 417
    Dedmonds, WA
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    It is my understanding that it is legal to target and kill federally listed Bull Trout (conterminously threatened) in certain freshwater areas within the skykomish and Skagit river systems but once they hit the salt they are off limits. Those target populations are deemed healthy and harvestable by area biologists but once a bull trout enters the salt they are off limits because nobody knows for sure which fish comes from which system.
  5. TomB Active Member

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    A few facts here:

    1. Bull trout and Dolly Varden are both listed under ESA due to their similarity of appearance, and Washington State regulations treat them as one and the same.

    2. They are separate species; in the northern end of the range, Dolly Varden are often anadromous, whereas the northernmost bull trout are not known to be.

    3. In Washington, which is the southernmost end of the range for Dolly Varden, Dolly Varden are found only as stream residents in a few locations, typically above anadromous barriers, whereas bull trout are more widespread, and are frequently anadromous.

    4. It is legal to target bull trout/Dolly Varden in a handful of locations--consult the reg pamphlet.

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  6. Josh P Member

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    Well said Tom. I guess your right that bull trout on more coastal river systems see more anadromy. I spent 2 years radio tracking bull trout on the the Mid Columbia and we never saw any anadromy but some amazing voyages to spawn. One fish in particular wintered in the main-stem Columbia by the town of Wenatchee and spawned in Mill Creek near the Nordic Center at Stevens Pass Ski Resort. Bull trout need water under 9 degrees C to spawn so it was always a joy to be trekking around the high country every Fall tracking these amazing fish and getting paid.
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  7. Whitehorsebob Member

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    Well I dont know about how the regs treat searun dollies but I used to fish them quite a bit in my youth. My grandparents had a home on arrowhead beach on camano and I spent most my time fishing for sea run cutts & dollies. Two things that I found , one is , at least where I fished dollies were were much more numerous during low tide and mostly along the sand bars possibly chasing all the candle fish there. The other was that a dollie caught in the salt water fought sooo much better than a sea run dollie in the rivers. They would jump/tail walk ect. So incoming /high tide it was almost all cutts and out going/low tide mostly dollies.
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  8. Patrick Gould Active Member

    Posts: 2,356
    Ellensburg, WA
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    Smalma recently posted a great scholarly thread on Bulls. I'm not sure if it's been put in the articles section. If not, I think it should. Based on that thread TomB's facts are correct.
  9. Shaunzo New Member

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    Took me a few days to get back to my computer but thanks for all the information guys. Considering that they're federally protected and illegal to target in the salt I'll stick to SRC and coho. Although every time I'm fishing the peninsula I'm gonna be dreaming of hooking into one.
  10. David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Posts: 1,997
    Walla Walla, WA
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    Bulls are amazing critters. My favorite part is just seeing them in the creek. After an afternoon of day of chasing 8"-12" redbands (not a common thing for me anymore) in a creek that's 6 feet wide, a 30+" bull is quite an eye opener :D
  11. This is interesting.

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  12. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,841
    Marysville, Washington
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    Interesting indeed!

    A taste of salt converts those bulls into a special fish for sure. Any wonder folks intially mistake a fresh run bull as it leaps or makes a drag stretching run for a steelhead?

    At the end of the line those "salty" fish are a much different critter than the kelts most anglers encounter while fishing behind the spawning chums. A monster bull in peak condition fresh from the satl has to be experienced to be believed!

  13. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,785
    Ellensburg, WA
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    10 years ago I spent a summer on Kodiak Is. My fishing was limited to the road system (which isn't much) but I quickly got dialed in on the beach fishing for dolly varden and sockeye fishing in the Buskin River. My fishing routine was to stop by the Buskin a couple mornings a week and bonk a couple fresh sockeye for dinner. The other days were spent wading the beaches and CnR fishing the abundant dollies that moved through in large pods. They weren't picky about patterns so I never tried anything other than basic Clouser minnows, stripped as fast as I could move them. So, my advice to the OP is to look north.
  14. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,238
    Ellensburg, WA
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    That is one of the coolest pictures I have ever seen on WFF. Even though bull trout in saltwater have little to do with the name of this forum, I'm glad you posted it as I don't view the saltwater forum much.
  15. Derek Day Rockyday

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    It blew my mind the first time I saw a sein full of fish like that.
  16. hookedonthefly Active Member

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    It think one of the coolest things about bull trout is their apparent lack of physiologically challenges moving in and out of fresh/saltwater. If my memory serves me correctly, a tagged Skagit bull trout was found two weeks later in the Snohomish system. Amazing fish.
  17. Lance workin' on it

    Posts: 43
    Bainbridge Island
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    Here is a nice sea run bull IMG_0496.JPG from last summer. We caught like ten fishing for summer steelhead one day.
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  18. Lance workin' on it

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    Bainbridge Island
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    And another:)
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  19. Lance workin' on it

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    Bainbridge Island
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    OK one more:D
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  20. Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    the beach
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    love the jaws on those fish...they just look so damned hungry!
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