Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisheries

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Roger Stephens, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Roger Stephens Active Member

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    Coonstripe shrimp and sand shrimp are often found in shallow water areas and thus are readily available food source for sea-run cutthroat and coho salmon as a year around food source. Below are facts about these shrimp and my thoughts about implications to Puget Sound fly fisheries. I have kept a detailed saltwater fly fishing journal for almost 20 years so much of the informations is from it.

    Coonstripe shrimp(humpback and dock)

    Coonstripe shrimp are common in areas with sand, gravel, and rocky bottoms. They remain in shallow bays and inlets during their first year due to an abundance of food in these areas but move into deeper water areas after that. Coonstripe shrimp are common in areas where there is moderate to strong current and are probably the most common, widely distributed shrimp in Puget Sound waters. Humpback coonstripe shrimp have a mottled reddish brown color with adults up to 7" long. The dock coonstripe shrimp is a mottled light brown color with with adults up to 5 1/2" long. The shallow water juvenile coonstripe shrimp range up to 2 1/2 to 3 1/2" in length.

    Implications to Puget Sound Fisheries

    1. Coonstripe shrimp are readily available as a food source during their juvenile stage for sea-run cutthroat and coho salmon since these shrimp prefer similar habitat (moderate tidal current, gravel, rocky bottoms, and shallow areas) as do sea-run cutthroat and coho salmon.

    2. Coonstripe shrimp are available as a year around food source and the sea-run cutthroat, resident coho, and adult coho are "keyed" into them through out the year. Many food sources of the Puget Sound fisheries are seasonal such as amphipods(winter), sand lance(late spring, summer, and early fall), chum salmon fry(spring), etc.

    3. Since coonstripe shrimp are available year around, a coonstripe shrimp fly pattern is extremely effective year around particularly for sea-run cutthroat but also resident coho and adult coho. A coonstripe shrimp pattern is usually my first "go to" subsurface pattern besides two baitfish patterns.

    Sand shrimp(bay)

    Sand shrimp are very common through out Puget Sound waters and are often abundent in bays or coves with muddy or sandy bottoms. These areas usually have little or very weak tidal current. Sand shrimp tend to have a light tan to light yellowish gray color with a small, poorly defined pair of pinchers(white). It is a short lived species( 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 year life span) with lengths usually 2 to 3" long.

    Implications to Puget Sound Fisheries

    1. Sand shrimp are not utilitized as much by sea-run cuthroat and coho salmon as coonstripe shrimp since the sand shrimp are usually found in areas(weak current and mud, sandy bottom) which are not conducive for sea-run cuthroat and coho salmon to "hang out" in. However, over many years I have found 9 coves where resident coho will usually be feasting on sand shrimp each year in about 1/2 of those coves. Keeping a detailed saltwater journal will help you pinpoint those areas and what tides to fish them.

    2 In the winter resident coho will often be seen schooled up taking amphipod off of the water surface(fish can be seen slowing dimpling the water surface). This type of feeding activity usually occurs in small coves or between the inside edge of a current seam to shoreline usually in back eddy areas where the tidal current is weak. When resident coho are "keyed" into the small amphipods(3/16 to 1/8"), they can be very selective and difficult to hook. On many ocassions I have had a difficult time hooking the resident coho on an amphipod pattern but switched to a sand shrimp pattern and was immediately hooking up fish. The areas(weak current) where amphipods are available in near shore areas are often excellent habitat for sand shrimp thus the resident coho have been utilizing the amphipods and shrimp as a food source. A sand shrimp pattern has often "saved" the day for me in those situations.

    Roger
  2. SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

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    Roy, WA
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    thanks, Roger, very informative post. Food for thought, pun intended.:thumb:
    Bob
  3. Eric Tarcha gear whore

    Posts: 1,067
    Seattle, WA
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Thanks Roger, very nice.
  4. Tom Johnston Been around a while

    Posts: 956
    Lala land!
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Wow 20 years of noting a sort of salt water fishing before my eyes. Thanks, make me thing again when I fish some where that either two of the shrimp pattern can be used.
  5. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,400
    Kitsap Peninsula
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Roger, great info as always, thank you. Made me have flashes from Forrest Gump though.
  6. Marty Leith Member

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    Bellevue, WA
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Funniest thing I've read on this site in months:rofl:
  7. SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

    Posts: 1,827
    Roy, WA
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    particularly effective shrimp patterns-
    "shrimp salad"
    "shrimp sandwich"
    "shrimp on a stick"
    "boiled shrimp"
    "fried shrimp"
    ...
  8. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    coonstripes taste pretty decent to me
  9. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,047
    Seattle, WA, USA.
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Roger, what pattern do you like to use?

    I know of a cove where, when the tide runs out, there are sometimes sand shrimp 'parts' floating on the surface. Cutts will sometimes be popping the surface, and I'm assuming they are chomping the sand shrimp parts. I've caught these SRC's dead-drifting a fly that looks like the 'parts' . . .
  10. Roger Stephens Active Member

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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Richard:

    I use the R.S. Sand Shrimp pattern shown on page 137 of Les Johnson's book Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon II. I have modified the pattern by palmering tan saddle hackle over the dubbed body and clip the hackle on the sides and top. It has been an excellent pattern that is an easy, quick tie.

    Roger
  11. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
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    Sand shrimp and coonstripe shrimp overlooked food source for Puget Sound fisherie

    Roger's Sand Shrimp pattern is also good around the margins of Willapa Bay. My granddad and uncles used to troll sand shrimp behind a spinner for cutthroat in Willapa Harbor when my cousins and I were kids. They called cutthroats in the salt "bluebacks". Roger's Sand Shrimp is an excellent, easily tied imitation that deserves a spot in anyone's saltwater fly box.
    Good Fishing,
    Les