IMHO main outmgration of sea-run cutthroat has not occurred yet!

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Roger Stephens, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. It has been since the first week in Feb. that I have fished for the beloved sea-run cutthroat. At that time, there were quite a few nice sized(14 to 17 inch) fish that were willing to "play". In the meantime, my wife and I were in Mexico for a month of R and R.

    Yesterday the weather was finally cooperative enough to take my boat out to appease the strong urge to go out fishing on Puget Sound. There were not as many sea-run cutthroat around as the first part of Feb. However, I was still able to land quite a few "cookie cutter" 14 inch fish. They showed little interest in top water patterns and it was necessary to "go down and dirty"with a olive/white clouser minnow.

    The most noteworthy events of the day were that no chum fry were seen or resultant sea-run cutthroat activity. IMHO the main "push" of sea-run cutthroat from freshwater to saltwater has not occurred. The big "pulse" should occur in the next week or two depending on whether a stream has early, normal, or late fall chum salmon spawning. I checked 20 years of my fishing journal and the first big "pulse" of chum fry and sea-run cutthroat normally occurs the third or fourth week of March and lasts at least through mid-April.

    flybill, Dipnet, Porter and 2 others like this.
  2. Thanks for that good info! Keep me encouraged while I wait for my usual beach that "normally" has great activity to get active again. It was great in summer and fall, started tapering down in the winter and is or seem to be nearly dead right about now. The few other fly fishermen I've seen there agree that the action is near nil.
  3. Roger, while you have been gone in Mexico getting tan and drinking things with umbrellas stuck in them, the rest of us in Central Cascadia have suffered through a wet and dreary March, one pushing it's way into the record books. I wonder if that rain has changed the game a little, both with fry outmigration and SRC breeding. Care to speculate?
  4. I would tend to agree with Roger's interpretation of the current situation. The last few weeks seem to have been pretty non-productive for lots of folks in lots of areas, myself included. At least I hope that's the explanation and that it's not due to my own lack of skill! ;)
  5. Roger -
    Suspect that your observation is dead on>
    On a "typical year" our cutthroat will spawn over much of the spring (January through much of May with a peak around the middle of March). For the small stream cutthroat populations so common in much of the south Sound and Hood Canal that "typically" means there are significant portion of the population in the salt over much of the late winter/spring. However it has been noted that the spawning timing of the cutthroat varies quite a bit from year to year with stream flows a major driver in that variation. What is the norm is that on the small streams that there will be "waves" of spawners entering the creek and spawning shortly after during and following "freshets". This past month with all the rain we have had I would not be surprised if a much higher portion of the population are currently or have just dropped out of the streams (it often takes a few days to recovery and begin actively feeding post spawning) than normal.

    BTW -
    On the north sound beaches decent numbers of pink fry are finding their way to the salt and over the next few weeks their abundance will increase dramatically. There are very few chum fry to be found (not a big surprise given the poor escapements for the "S' rivers.

    Chester Allen, flybill and Bob Triggs like this.

  6. The resort which we were staying on Medano beach in Cabo had two happy hours each day. The drinks of choice were bloody Mary and rum/coke. The spring break bikini "hatch" was starting as they trooped down the beach to the Mango Deck next to the Office. Needless to say, many enjoyable afternoons were spent on the beach inbibing and people watching.

    I am a retired hydrologist so that is a good question right up my "alley". The answer to the chum fry outmigration is yes that the high rainfall/runoff events from mid-Feb. through mid-March have probably delayed the chum fry outmigration. Last year on March 15 chum fry outmigration was in full "force" along with major sea-run cutthroat activity. If I remember correctly, last winter seemed like a normal or below normal year of high runoff events. The USGS agency has several real-time water temperature instruments at streamflow gaging stations. The N.F. of Tolt River near Carnation is one of those stations. I compared streamflow graphs vs. water temperature graphs from mid-Feb to mid-March. Water temperature dropped to 38 to 39 degrees F. during periods of high streamflow and raised to 42 to 43 degree F. during stable streamflow periods. This effect is related primarily to rainfall normally being colder than water temperatures during stable streamflow. Ground water sources(springs, seepages, etc.) normally have water temperatures of 45 to 55 degrees F. and are a significant source of streamflow during stable runoff periods. With numerous high water events from late Feb. through mid-March water temperatures of the N.F. of Tolt river was lower than normal. Other streams in Puget Sound should have also experienced lower than normal water temperatures. These conditions probably have delayed chum fry emergence which is dependent of water temperature.

    Bagman, flybill and wadin' boot like this.
  7. If we give them a few more weeks to fatten up it will all come together just fine.
  8. This is an odd year. The folks who are doing spawning surveys for cct are not seeing many fish and nearly no redds in the streams being studied. You're not going to see a push into salt water until the fish pulse out of it.

    I get to go out with a team in the morning to see if things have started rolling yet.

    I don't know anything about whats going on much north of the Narrows, things might be different elsewhere than the south end.
  9. Walked 2 1/2 miles of prime spawning habitat in S Sound this morning. We saw only 5 trout, one fry, and no redds.
  10. Don -
    Could it be that high waters from the rains the last month have flattened out the redds? Had the stream been surveyed earlier and were there marked redds from earlier spawning?

    Have seen a few pictures of cutthroat recently caught in the salt that clearly had spawned so there most be some redd digging sometime in the last month. Have seen a few cases where the cutthroat on high water years spawned further upstream than "normal".

  11. From what I have observed over the last couple of months, the main pulse of sea-run cutthroat leaving saltwater to spawn occured somewhere in Feb. probably in mid-month.

    IMHO you are correct. Some sea-run cutthroat which I caught in early Feb. had definitely spawned already.

    With all the high runoff events over the last month you are probably right that this winter many sea-run cutthroat maybe spawned higher upstream than normal. It would be easier for them to find suitable spawning areas where there is less gravel movement and lower stream velocities. If that is the case, it will take these sea-run cutthroat a longer time to re-enter saltwater.

  12. These streams are surveyed weekly, and the major spawning areas observed for years by the same crew. The only non speculative conclusion so far is that there ain't the usual amount of hanky panky going on in the usual places, and there isn't any "upstream" to go to in this drainage.

    The real head scratcher is why we're not seeing any chum fry in a normally productive creek.
  13. I got a bump yesterday and that's all the action I've seen in probably 10 days on the water in the last month.
  14. I was finally into em a bit, yesterday on the canal. Went 2 for 5 in about 4hrs of fishing.... Lost a very nice 18-20" cutt just before low tide...:(

    Saw a great deal of fry everywhere!.... Sorry, hard to get decent photos when you're alone.

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    Attached Files:

    Alexander, Jeff Sturm and flybill like this.
  15. We're you throwin' fry patterns?
  16. Saw some fish north of Gig Harbor today which is more than I can report for previous days. Still not a whole lot of chum fry but there were some. I think it will definitely pick up in the next week.
  17. Same to report up here on Vancouver island. Chum fry just starting to trickle out. Found two fish willing to play.
    Andrew Shoemaker and Jeff Dodd like this.
  18. Welcome beach caster
    We will be jealous of the sweet bc reports
  19. Yes - the photo below is what I got all hits on.... I got it from Ben at PFF in mill creek.

    "Foul free Hering"

    Threw other fry patterns also, but notta...

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    Attached Files:

  20. Ah yes, I have a few like that. I really like that tie, I gotten good results with it in various color schemes.

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