Define your "exceptional" searun cutt

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Stonefish, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. This is CRAZY! :confused:
  2. As having an extensive long time affair fly fishing for searuns in the salt and rivers I can honestly say that I don’t think I have verified more than 3 or 4 in the 20” + range and no matter what size, they are exceptional fish to me. I limit my handling of these magnificent fish and on some outings I will admit I will carefully measure one for a reference only with out removing them from the net. These are the last of a native trout species in WA and I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to experience fishing them over the many years. As Les and others have communicated several times they need extensive protection and its going to be up to us as fly fisherman to take that lead, "we are our own stewards".
  3. :beathead:

    I disagree. (This is not an personal attack, just an observation based on mention of the idea that C&R is relatively harmless.) And let us not forget here that not all Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout fishing is catch and release- many of these wild fish are harvested legally in our coastal streams and rivers each year. How many are harvested? Thousands?, perhaps tens of thousands?, hundreds of thousands? More than a million fish per year? How many Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout are there in Washington's waters? How many successful spawners each year? Any extinct runs being fished out now? How many runs are gone forever? They don't know. They have no idea. No data. And yet WDFW still allows them to be harvested in the creeks and rivers every year. These are the same fish that were are protecting and C&R fishing for in Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the rest of our coastal waters.

    We have not just a "few anglers" but many Catch and Release anglers now chasing Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout in our waters. And they do have a serious impact- especially for the reasons just pointed out above; mishandling, netting by hand, overplaying, removal from the water etc. I too worry about development (of all kinds ), and netting around small spawning streams,( almost impossible to avoid unless we ban netting :thumb: ).

    It is a mistake to compare some human activities as being more or less harmful than other's actions, and then to dismiss our own (perceived as) less than damaging activities. In the end we are all killing off our wild fish resources, often a fish at a time. It all adds up.

    The suggestions of not removing these fish from the water, and not handling them at all if possible, ( even knotless rubber "C&R" nets do some damage too!) is a very good and important foundation approach. Along with using short shank barbless hooks, and strong enough leaders, and rods with enough spine to not overplay the fish.

    If I could add one thought about more responsible Sea Run Cutthroat Trout fly fishing in the salt it would be to not go to the same places and fish over the same runs of fish every time. It is hard on those fish and it will show up soon enough as they get educated to not take a fly, or they go away, or maybe they die from too much fighting, or exhaustion and handling injuries. It is suposed to be fun, and an adventure, so get out there and explore more water and beachline. You will learn more this way too. In the end, by not abusing one group of fish in only one place, you will end up catching many more in a wide range of locales.
  4. well said Bob.
  5. Sorry but I find the suggestion that cutthroat anglers spread their effort around as way to reduce impacts on our beloved cutthroat to be largely an empty gesture. While adopting such a mind set may leave one with feeling that they are doing something benefical for the resource a little thought exposes the fallacy of the approach.

    Suppose that I fish cutthroat on beach A two days this week. And Cutthroat Joe fishes beach B two days as well. Would it reduce impacts (number of fish handled) if instead I fished beach A one day and Beach B the other and Cutthroat Joe did the same? Yes my impacts on each beach would be lower but collective (the both of us) the impacts would be the same in either case (ignoring for the moment that Cutthroat Joe may catch more fish than I would).

    Moving from beach to beach (which has its own attractiveness) will not reduce our collective impacts. If those impacts are of concern the only way to meaningfully reducing those impacts is for all of us to handle less fish by either fishing less or significant limiting our daily catch. In fact if a knowledge angler uses their knowledge of favorable times and tides, optimum seasons for locations, and ability to find naive fish to move from beach to beach I submit that they will almost assurely have greater impacts (catch more fish) than if he stayed put and fished the same beach all the time.

    I'm of the opinion that having more of us fishing the same waters is more of an issue affecting the quality of our individual fishing (fewer fish/rod and more company on the water) than it is about impacts on the resource.

    Tight lines
  6. If the unquantified catch and release impacts on handling cuttthroats or just trout in general were so severe, how can quality catch and release fisheries, such as the Yakima or St. Joe, sustain their numbers in the face of the intense fishing effort that they experience??? Are searuns more vunerable to handling mortality?

  7. Curt: Sorry, but I disagree.

    I see it as utterly hackneyed for one to stand in the same old place every outing, to bash away at the same runs of fish, on the same tides, in the same ways- over and over again.

    By introducing the variable of wandering around to different beaches etc I believe one does less harm. Many places will not fish the same at all, even given the experience and knowledge of a skilled angler. Each new location will offer the exploring angler the challenges of working out it's riddles of structure, currents, tides, forage cycles, and the mysteries of passing fish. That takes some time. That time works in favor of the fish too. Two different anglers will not necessarily have the same skill sets, knowledge or approach to fishing. I can virtually guarantee that this is true. And they will not have the same impacts on two different beaches at two different times.

    If one works out a spot well, knows it tides and currents and general timing habits of the fish etc, then one would be putting a lot of pressure on that place all of the time. That would be hard on those particular fish in that specific place. And often at a crucial time- because they wouldnt be taking flies there if they didnt expect to feed there. And then no matter how careful you were about handling etc you would be putting way more stress on those fish.

    Instead of telling us to stop or reduce fishing if we really care about these fish, why dont you tell us why WDFW still allows harvest on them in the rivers? "A little thought exposes the fallacy of the approach"...indeed.
  8. Steve, This is something that I have thought about as well. I have looked for good data and it is very hard to find anything substantial. It needs to be studied in order to have a clearer picture of the differences and variables.

    But off-the-cuff I am thinking that those river fish you mention mayhave a bit easier life than the average Sea Run Coastal Cutthorat Trout in Washington's waters. For one thing they are under the pressure of a wide range of predators here, on top of being fished over, and of course WDFW still allows harvest of them in our rivers. Many catch and release freshwater trout fisheries are just that- catch and release only.

    When you talk with fish biologists many of them feel that any disruption in the slime layer of fish is damaging. ( One can consider a swarm of sea lice on a cutthroat to be a threat I believe .) From there it seems to go in increments of what learned people suggest is acceptable handling of fish, time out of the water etc. One thging I have noticed is that the closer these folks are to the fishing "industry", the more likely they are to allow nets, time out of the water for pictures etc.

    I came to the point of now working to keep the fish underwater and not handling them, no gripping, but at most simply cradling them from beneath, (barehanded and underwater),while slipping the hook. When we do this gently they seem calm and they swim away easily.

    It would be good to hear more ideas about the possibilities of this. But perhaps we are comparing apples to pears here. The differences (variables of natural predators, disease exposure, parasites etc), between the environments of the river fish you have mentioned, and the Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout here in the Puget Sound region, may be significant
  9. I tend to agree a bit with Bob. I fished SRC almost twice a week since October. A lot of concentrating on just a couple of beaches, but not always. I have found myself getting to know those beaches quite intimately. My success has been phenomenal. Well, ok, maybe just dumb luck. I learned the tides, the eddies, the sections of beach my src hangout. It’s been great. I feel like Bob says:

    “If one works out a spot well, knows it tides and currents and general timing habits of the fish etc, then one would be putting a lot of pressure on that place all of the time. That would be hard on those particular fish in that specific place. And often at a crucial time- because they wouldnt be taking flies there if they didnt expect to feed there. And then no matter how careful you were about handling etc you would be putting way more stress on those fish.”

    So, I am ready to move on to new adventure, taking Bob’s advice, exploring, finding new success, new tides, new mysteries to uncover. Exploring different beaches is great fun. I suppose I can always “fall back” on my old favorite beaches if I need a “fix” and catch fish. I rarely have failed to move a fish in the last 6 months. (And for the whiners that want to know where to go in other threads---it’s all in the adventure and exploring, so go find your pot of gold! Thanks Bob.
  10. Sounds like you have some guilt over putting coastal cutthroat in harms way with your guiding business, but you shouldn't. I think we are all trying to protect something we love while still being able to experience it with minimal impact. I totally agree that small narrow gauge hooks with appropriate leader and rod strength must be used. Don't over play them, don't handle them if possible, and take a photo of them in the water before a quick release. I also agree with giving them a break on hard hit beaches and small estuaries. That being said, the more anglers aware of coastal cutthroat the more consideration and protection they will receive. We are their advocates in Olympia etc. when it comes to altering fishing regulations, development rules around spawning streams and wetlands, and in letting the public know they even exist (most don't and ignorance is not bliss). This is a tough long-lived species that has always survived on the margins. As anglers we can work to ensure critical cutthroat habitat is protected, while continuing to fish for them in a thoughtful manner. Maybe the topic for another thread would be to coordinate an effort to turn all fresh water streams into C&R only for all native coastal cutthroat?
  11. DryflyLarry -
    Certainly learning a number of beaches is great fun and a satisfying step in ones learn curve ultimately leading one to a more complete understanding of the fish we chase. I would encourage those intersted in expanding their development as a sea-run angler to expand their horizons.

    My point in the earlier post is that if an experience angler has spend the time to learn a number of spots; esepcially if they are in different areas and fish well at different tides and times as you have your particular "spot" that angler will have greater overall success by rotating through the spots hitting each during the optimum times and after the "resident" fish are somewhat rested.

    It is not uncommon for anglers to have different takes on situations and that may be a good thing. I just offered the above based on what has been my experience. Bob's experience obviously appears to have been different. I quickly get bored fishing the same areas over and over and maybe that is why my success falls when I keep returning to the same area.

    DimeBrite -
    Good luck in getting anglers to actively support any efforts to increase CnR regulations for our rivers/sea-runs. IN the past when those opportunities comes along active support among the fly fishing community as been largely lacking.

    Tight lines
  12. After more than thirty years of working on the well-being of our coastal cutthroat I can say without hesitation that C&R is not a favored method among active members of WDFW. Whatever else one may concede, WDFW policy leans heavily to some level of retention. It was tough enough to get slot limits a way back when. I agree that more people need to get involved. The fly-fishing community is simply not large enough and may lack the fortitude to carry the ball straight into the wedge.
    As an example, the Wild Steelhead Coaltion got the limit on wild steelhead reduced by incorporating non-fly fishermen along with fly-fishermen in order to raise the kind of numbers that were needed to get something done. The tribes and WDFW have managed to combine forces to punch a hole in this modest vessel of success by continued overfishing of troubled rivers. It would help though if we got even half of the fly-fishers on this web site to attend meetings, testify before the Fish and Wildlife Commissoin, and hammer the legislators with e-mails. Whatever your complaint, or applauser may be, let 'em know.
    Les Johnson
  13. No, Not guilty. What I have is a concern for the future of these uniquely wild trout. Having spent so much time studying them, following them, watching them, fishing for them, and guiding others for them- I grew to care more about the fish than the fishing.

    I see no clear divide between my guiding work and my wild fish advocacy and service. Anyone who enjoys our Washington wild fish resources should be getting involved in their restoration, and publicly commenting upon their management.

    Nowadays many of the hours that would have been occupied with my own private fishing time are being applied to our Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group's many excellant restoration and conservation projects. I still fish often enough myself. But not with the kind of ruthlessness that I did as a much younger and less experienced angler.
  14. I have heard of other people catching fish that match the sea run brown description in the same area, I haven't ever been able to actually confirm it myself or seen any proof, but non-native fish introductions are almost never a good thing...

    On the SRC topic, a 20" or greater fish is most definitely an extraordinary catch, I have fished the salt HARD for the last 5 years or so and only caught 2 that would honestly break the 20" mark. I have to agree with D3Smartie too that generally for their size you get a lot more fight out of a 14-16" cutthroat (lots of jumps) than the real big guys which generally have a more dogged fighting style.
  15. Boats Gary, boats...
  16. I think there are a number of things that need to be considered as well with regards to fishing and caring for the SRC's as well as how frequently they are caught.

    One of which is the specific area one fishes. With the amount of water moving through the Sound each day in the East Passage, Colvos Passage or further north and during the times of year when there is not much food in the salt for them and many of the beaches pounded by anglers today (Picnic, Meadowdale, Richmond, Lincoln, Narrows etc) have very little structure, those fish are not as resident as many think. Pretty easy for much of the year to go hit a fish here today and then nothing again for a few days, especially on these main chanel beaches. And the next time you get one on that beach, likely a different fish than before.

    As one begins to fish bays further south or in areas with more substantial structure and more apt to have a mild year around food supply, where water is moving "in and out" versus "past" or "across", those fish definitely can be more residential and can much more easily feel the pressure from those dedicated enough to stick with fishing the Sound.

    As far as catch and release goes, some of the hook sizes shops are selling and people are tying their own flies on is rediculous. Short shank is helpful but you don't need a size 2 hook to land these fish(or most of the coho, pink and blackmouth either), we usually fish size 8 or smaller even. I have seen quite a few anglers fishing large decievers and clousers with giant hooks and been asked to take photos for guys with blood streaming from the eye of these fish because the hook was so freaking big.

    Taking Bob's point further is why do we use saltwater hooks? If you snap a fly off on a fish, that fly is staying there for a long time before it rusts out. If anglers would get used to rinsing their flies at the same time as their gear, normal hooks work just fine out there and are much safer for the fish should they keep a fly.

    This has been a subject of debate among some anglers in tropical locations for the same reasons as there are places where bones and other species do not travel far throughout the year and anglers have found flies still in their mouths, unable to rust out due to size of wire and being stainless.

    Finally, checking off the "20 incher" from your list of fish is someone who is still fishing under the misconception that it matters at all what size any fish he/she catches to anyone but themself. These fish, larger ones especially should be viewed as a journey with rewards earned for time and effort spent and not just in the realm of fishing the right beaches 250 days or more a year. Learning to appreciate the specie, their habitat and matching their "hatch" so to speak, our over all impact on both of them and the when, why, what and how's of becoming a skilled SRC angler vs the lucky one who should have bought a lotto ticket instead.

    Remarkably, the amount of pressure is going up but in the 10 years I have been here, the fishing seems to be getting better in many places and I still can fish some commonly known beaches on perfect weekend days and not see another angler.

    While I honestly believe that the more people who first become fascinated with the Sound only to really fall head over heels for it will in the end serve it better. Many times more, better educated anglers utilizing a fishery results in better stewardship of that resource, however, I fear those who still feel like they are in a competition with someone for each and every fish they see will inevitably abuse the fish in manners already mentioned.

    At times I am miffed by an angler who sprints past me to a fish that rose 30 yards away yet I also feel bad they haven't come full circle in their fly angling evolution.

    In 10 years I have seen only 3 larger than 20".
  18. I have heard whispers of derbies from people's neighbors, where a neighbor will have a number of friends and relatives over and they will fish a beach hard all weekend in boats trolling spoons and etc. They only keep fish above 18 inches for the bbq. Nick and I are trying to get out on the salt and catch them in the act, but even then will we see them catch the fish and will Fish and Wildlife get them in time to catch them. This particular area is near and dear to my heart as it is my home waters and they are basically raping the area of the best native stock of large fish. :mad: Any suggestions on how to stop locals from catch and kill mentality on searuns.

    As to comment regarding brown trout, I have never seen any in Hood Canal. In fact I have never seen any dollies either, just searun cuttroats and searun/steelhead hybrids, which seem to be more common than one might think with the large 18+inch searuns.
  19. I'm wondering if this "sea-run brown" might not have been an Atlantic salmon escaped from a rearing pen. To the best of my knowledge, there are no net pens in Hood Canal, but I have no idea how far an escaped salmon might wander either. Salmo salarand S. trutta are pretty closely related and a colored-up salmon can closely resemble a brown trout.
  20. S Sound, Back in the early 80's, when I lived on Bainbridge Island, I used to head out surfing with a penniless young dude in need of a ride to the beach, who's parents lived waterfront near Silverdale on the Hood Canal. He told me of the great searun cutt fishing to be had off the beach near his parents' house.

    I heard the following from a mutual friend:

    When the regs changed, requiring the release of searun cutts caught in the salt, this asshole kept keeping them. Finally, his mother found out from talking to a neighbor that the fish he was bringing home to eat were illegal, and she questioned him about it. She wanted no more illegally caught fish in the house! Cheers and kudos to his mom!

    If I caught that dude with a kept src from the Canal, i would turn his sorry ass in to WDFW even though he used to be one of my surf buds. No shit!

    People who live waterfront can easily sneak illegal fish to their fry pan. I know people who take fry pans along with them, to C&R waters! They fry up and eat their cutthroat, sight unseen, before they return to the ramp. Maybe WDFW needs to develop a fish-breath-alizer. "Here, stand downwind from me and breath into this!"

    edit: suggestion

    If I saw someone keeping some cutthroat illegally and got a positive ID on their boat, including the #, then I would press the matter with the authorities to make arrests or issue citations and be willing to go to court and testify that I saw them commit this crime.

    And if the perps ever threatened me, that would be a very bad mistake on their part.

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