Giving them a break.

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Bob Triggs, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    Coastal Cutthroat Trout are spawning in many of our streams from early winter to as late as May, including the Sea Run Cutthroat. Just as many area streams are closed to fishing until later in the spring, I am thinking that maybe the beaches should be closed during this time as well.

    We could still get a solid six months of salt water fishing for Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout, in most places autumn being the very best of it as the fish have bulked up and are on the feed by then. Remember, they are trying to enter a spawning cycle with a physical advantage of energy reserves that will get them through it all.

    But fishing for them during the spawn sometimes yields recovering post-spawn fish that are already tired and dont need the abuse of fighting for their lives unnecessarily.

    What would be wrong with giving them a break from late autumn/early winter through april? Imagine how hot, wild and hard they would hit and fight if we left them alone half the year.
  2. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Well done Bob. We do need to treat this rare, wonderful, wild resource with great care and respect. When I say this I don't for a moment mean that we should not fish for coastal cutthroat, sea-run or resident. I love fishing for coastal cutthroat, probably as much as anyone who uses this bulletin board. When we fish for them though we have to remember that we are their stewards. We, the anglers of Washington had to take over the care and keeping of our cutthroat away from WDFW and the F&W Commission in order to establish the regulations that are now in place. That makes us responsible and I for one am very comfortable with this responsibility.
    Since we first took up the banner for our cutthroat in 1975 (a campaign led by anglers on Hood Canal, 4th Corner Fishers and Washington Fly Fishing Club). Fought for and won slot regulations and c&R in the rivers and again in 1997 when we established c&r regs for all Washington marine waters most anglers feel that we have an increase in our cutthroat populations, although this is anectodal information -- and we certainly have more big cutthroat (16-20-inches).
    So, what you recommend , although it is likely far to restrictive for most people, is well thought out and probably appreciated in concept at least by the majority of anglers who fish for and love our great wild coastal cuthroat trout.
    Finally, I'd like to see people actually learn more about the coastal cutthroat, beyond the "where and how" questions that are so pervasive on the WFF BB. Although I must admit that many of the intelligent, highly informative answers to these questions shows that we do have a strong cadre of anglers who understand the coastal cutthroat very well indeed. As I see it, they are the corps group of our stewards. Finally, I'm not pushing to have people buy my book to find this information. It is doing just fine. There is however, plenty of information on the internet.
    Good Fishing,
    Les Johnson
  3. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    Nothing...I actually think they have been giving me a break :p Since I can't find any lately (seals too :( :( ) I'm waiting until this summer. Time to hit some Eastern Wa lakes now and the YAK.

    Good thought/post/timely and all that ...Bob :) :) :)
  4. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    A follow up note on this idea.

    I meet people nearly every month, sometimes much more often than that, who have moved to this region to retire, and specifically to fish and enjoy the outdoors. The first thing that they ask me about is the Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout fly fishing on the beaches. They want to know all about it. They want to catch these fish. This is a growing phenomenon here. Every year I hear it more often.

    Perhaps the Cutthroat are taking up the slack for the decline in Steelhead and Salmon and quality Wild Steelhead and Salmon fishing here. At any rate, these Cutthroat anglers are on the increase.

    Sure, I am seeing more large Cutthroat the past three years on the beaches, some whoppers too. But I do believe that people are moving into their retirement homes around here, and heading out to fish, at a faster rate than the cutthroat can reproduce to accomodate the increased pressures. It's not like we are regaining spawning habitat fast enough either.

    Couple this with the forecast that the entire Puget Sound basin will gain another million to 1.5 milion new residents in the next fifteen years, and the fact that some significant percentage of them will be outdoors fisherman types, and it is not hard to imagine what will become of these wonderful Wild Cutthroat if we dont begin planning for their protection now. Just as our water and soil managers and urban planners are preparing for the hoards of new taxpayers expected over the next decades. Frankly I believe that the forecasts are a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy, a case of "lets build it so they do come". But either way this is the trend.

    The good old days are over. It will never be 1950 again. We have to give something back and protect and preserve what we have for the future. And not just our retirement futures, but our great grandchildren's grandchildren's retirement futures as well, not to mention the biota of this Ecoregion as a whole.

    A wonderful line from a good old friend: " If it will be, let it begin with me."

    How about you?
  5. Tony

    Tony Tony

    I can understand and agree with your thinking, a season for searuns to allow them time to spawn makes sense, but 6 months? Perhaps we should close the steelhead fishing from late autumn to early spring also for the same reasons and what about salmon shouldn't that be closed from early spring until late autumn to give them a break. I can't think of any of the anadromous
    species that wouldn't benefit from radical closures during the spawning season, and all are threatened and population growth affects them all not just the searun cutthroat.
  6. troutingham

    troutingham Member

    Sad Times
  7. Dick Warnke

    Dick Warnke was Pram-Man

    I think its a great idea, and long past due. It puzzles me how time and time again someone will come on here at this time of year and start asking where to find Searun Cutthroat and Les or someone else will point out the fact that this is a goodtime to leave them alone and not target them, then someone else will chime in and tell all about how they nailed them at some unspoke of location. LISTEN to what people are trying to say and give them a break!! It's for the good of all!! Thanks Bob and Les for coming right out and saying it. iagree
  8. Scott Behn

    Scott Behn Active Member

    I agree we should take it easy on all our fisheries, but does that mean we all should stop going up to the Skagit/Sauk this time year to give the nates a break as well?
    If I'm understanding this then we should not be fishing for any of our salmonids when they make their runs up the river systems for they are getting into spawning mode?

    Sorry have alot of things to say about this, but really don't know how to put it without coming off like a jackass...

  9. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Is there any hard evidence that searun cutthroats are in any direct peril under the current management strategy? Is the average fish smaller? Are their numbers declining? If not, then why should we limit our enjoyment of this recreational opportunity when the fish are in the sound? The rainbows of the Yakima River provide a great example of a fish population that experiences extreme catch and release fishing pressure (including through the spawning season) and yet remains robust. The future threats of increasing human population on cutthroats are more likely to be to their spawning habitat, both large and small, as development encrouches. Protecting quality stream habitat is where we should be putting our energy, political capital, and focus.

  10. Johnnyb

    Johnnyb Guest

    Consider me a decent test case: I am now into my third year of active pursuit of searun cuthroat. This pursuit has included the pursuit of knowedge about the life history of the species, both to understand how it fits in ecologically, and also to figure out its tendencies so I can catch more!

    So, until I came across this thread, I was plotting my fishing strategy for this spring/summer, anticipating that they would once again become available and vulnerable after their winter spawn. However, the thoughts conveyed through this thread compel me to back off for a while - let this relatively fragile fish recuperate. I commit to changing my plans accordingly.

    Regarding the posts that want to lump searun cutthroat in with the other anadromous fishes, I would point out that I am sure we all have our favorites. And judging from the information available on this site, at least, the searun cutthroat has found a special place in the hearts of many of us...maybe because it is less understood than other species, maybe because is it less numerous than other species and consequently more vulnerable to sport fisherman. Whatever the reason(s) it does not seem unreasonable to give the searun cutthroat a well-timed break from sport fishing, considering the positive impact it could have on the sustainability of the species.

    At least, that's the way I see it, and that's the basis for my own future actions.
  11. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

    Frankly, for many of us, a day spent at the beach is merely casting practice. One or 2 cutties would be a great acheivement. If they are landed quickly and released without being dragged up on the beach or squeezed for photo op - I have a feeling the average weekend warrior joe isn't going to have much of an impact.

    Now those who have these SRCs dialed in, especially professional guides and those who are retired and\or can otherwise spend several days a week targeting these fish with expected success just about each outing adding up to 10, 20, or 30 or more fish per week - well I agree that those guys should cut back a little.

    And I agree that the same should be said for native steelies and dollies\bulls. A few fish a month is stellar for most of us - but the guides and other regulars who score fish with some regularity - maybe they should back off.

    I guess it goes back to the 10% of the fisherman catching 90% of the fish concept. If that 10% group (made up largely of guides who spend nearly every day on the water) would back off, the fish would stand a much better chance. Maybe guides should only be allowed to target hatchery fish. Imagine what impact that would have on our native resources.

    Just trying to think outside the box here...
  12. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    And right in the box for others...mainly guides :clown:
  13. Riane

    Riane Mouse doctor

    I'd have to say that I certainly agree with the spirit of this thread, and I am pleased to be among friends that care about these resources.

    My pathetic seven searun cutthroats that I have caught (all last fall and none in winter) kind of make me figure that my bi-monthly casting practice both in the salt and trying for steelhead doesn't affect the fish too much. I'd say though that if you're catching a lot of these fish, and this goes for steel as well, perhaps you should give them a reprieve. So I will still go to the beach a time or two if I can because the fish have nothing to fear from me. When I catch two, I will stop!
  14. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    Bob, I don't know too much about the searun cutthroat life history, but this seems like a reasonable idea. It's proactive, rather than reactive. I just don't know if 6 months is necessary, and presumably you could come up with location-specific moratoriums of shorter duration since fish from different places in the sound spawn at different times. A change like this presumably needs to be a grass roots thing. Doesn't seem like WDFW would initiate it because it is largely a reactive organization - i.e., things need to be pretty obviously bad for them to consider curtailing sport or commercial fishing. Which is not to say that the WDFW doesn't do some good things, on its own initiative. Just that when they do so it is not usually to prevent problems, but rather to react to them. Since this would likely need to be a grass roots initiative, I think it would be hard to garner a lot of support for it because we in Washington are spoiled rotten when it comes to fishing. I don't mean the quality of the fisheries is that great - because in most cases it isn't - but there is not one day out of the year that an angler can't fish for something somewhere in this state. So, getting Washington anglers to accept the idea that there may be times when certain species are off limits is a tough proposition. Most of us get used to it, if it's forced on us (e.g., no spring C&R season on the Sky, etc.), but few of us are willing to volunteer for restrictions. I think it's kind of interesting that some people's immediate reaction to the idea of giving a wild fishery a break is sort of a "hell no" attitude while on the other hand we all accept that we have to take a long break from most lakes in Washington (many of which are filled with nothing but hatchery fish).
  15. Unfortunately, the line "I don't know too much about the searun cutthroat life history...." is one that most probably identify with, yet that is hardly the best place to start when trying to manage a species. While the heart is willing, the mind should manage the situation from a position of knowledge rather than supposition. That has been the complaint against the WDFW, not utilizing good scientific knowledge. I would hate to over react to a potential problem if it had little beneficial effect. ChadK has a good point in that the individual fisher needs to personally apply his/her own sense of conservation in the here and now. That being said, I do love the little devils.

  16. Scott Behn

    Scott Behn Active Member

    thanks chadk...those were pretty much my thoughts as well. I would of probably come as a jackass though, don't have a very good way of putting words on paper.

  17. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

    One of the issues would be that the season for cutthroat would be closed at the same time everyone targets resident silvers. My experience is that you can specifically target resident silvers if you have a boat - chasing after the schools. When fishing from the beaches you're usually fishing over both species. I suppose you could prohibit all fishing within 100' or 200' of shore, but that may be difficult to enforce.

    Would you be willing to give up resident coho fishing in the winter to preserve the cutthroat? I think I would, but could understand how some might feel otherwise.

    To me, one of the joys of cutthroat fishing is the personal nature of it. The really good fishing for me is at places, seasons, times, and tides that I've discovered myself. Leaving the fish alone when they're spawning makes good sense. One thing I do is stop fishing when the fishing is really good. If I release 3-4 fish, I switch to a popper or dry fly. If I hit 3-4 more on the surface, it's time to "declare victory" - put the gear away & do some bird watching, or clip the hook off your popper & watch the fish chase it.
  18. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

    I feel the same way... but that has never stopped me before :ray1:

  19. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Bob, great thread. I think that guy up in your area who teaches classes on fishing for searun cutthroat at the community college is spawning too many new cutthroat fishers. I think he ought to stop. Or be stopped. His name is Ron or something like that.
    I was especially pissed off last summer when I found out he had taken his whole class to one of my favorite spots, which was already receiving enough pressure. I got there one morning and found two of these newbies had waded out and were standing right in the prime hookup spot, spooking the cutties, casting out too far, and not having any luck. I told them they were standing in a prime hookup spot where they should be casting to and not standing in (probably a mistake to clue them in), and they just gave me blank looks and didn't seem to want to move. After they left (because they were getting skunked), I was able to C&R a couple of nice ones, casting to the area where they had been standing.
    I'll just have to walk down there before dawn from now on to get a jump on the new crowd. I only fish that spot a few times a year, half dozen at the most, but last year there were other fishers there every time I fished the spot, and the 2 years before I had it alone alot.

    I feel for you guides. You must be suffering alot of mental anquish over bringing alot of new people into the sport, even though you do your best to educate your guests on conservation and ethical concerns, along with giving them casting instruction and showing them how to catch the fish.

    I might support a 3 or 4 month closure off the beaches Dec (or Jan) thru March, but searun cutthroat don't stop eating on their spawning runs and recover quickly. I want to be able to go after them in April when the Chum Babies are migrating out. With the oftentimes gnarly weather conditions in the winter, is the beach fishing pressure really that heavy for searun cutts then?

  20. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    I would say I have seen more beach fishing in the last three years or so....especially summer am/pm's in the N. Seattle - Edmonds area than I did before. And to add it has been more fly-fisherman that I have seen. Carkeek for example ... spend several summer evenings with family (not fishing) and I might see a couple guys fishing here and there but most evenings none. Last year I would say I saw at least two and many times more at a time and almost every time we went. I think perhaps with the poor trout fisheries here on the West side and the good ones being a little ways away for Seattlelites...that they have slowly gravitated to the salt and the pursuit of Searun Cutts. In addition new books, Seattle PI articles, and magazine articles have kinda glorified and made many aware of this fishery. Thirty years ago when you were at the beach with spinning gear :( and trying to collect what we called piling worms for bait to catch trout, flounder or whatever...people, including other fisherman, would look at you like a dumbass when you said you were fishing for trout (too) in the Sound. I wish it was still like that.