SRCs & Steelies

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Bright Rivers, Oct 19, 2002.

  1. Bright Rivers

    Bright Rivers Member

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    Just curious -- Why don't searun cutthroat grow as large as steelhead? After all, a steelhead is just a searun rainbow trout. Why don't SRCs seem to get much bigger than 18"? It can't be because cutthroats can't get that big, as evidenced by the 15 pounder caught in Lake Washington this summer. Maybe they stay in the Sound and never venture out into the ocean like steelhead do. Anybody know?

    db

    "If I don't catch them today, I'll catch them another day." Art Flick :DUNNO
     
  2. Peter Pancho

    Peter Pancho Active Member

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    Very good quesiton, I'm curious myself. Maybe its due to their differences in genes,migratory insticts,etc.
    Sorry guys, no fishing for me today. Quality time with the wife, next week for sure.


    "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
    Matthew 4:19
     
  3. Peter Pancho

    Peter Pancho Active Member

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  4. Dizane

    Dizane Coast to Coast

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    Sea-run cutts don't attain the size of steelhead because their life history is different. Whereas steelhead travel out into the Pacific and stay there for a couple years, sea-runs almost never venture more than a few miles from their natal estuary. Also, sea-runs that left the river in the spring return the next fall, and this pattern continues for as long as the fish lives. So while steelhead have a long period of uninterupted ocean feeding, sea-run cutts have a series of trips to the salt followed by migrations back to their home rivers to spawn. Sea-runs never get to spend a long enough time in the salt to grow to steelhead size.
     
  5. Bright Rivers

    Bright Rivers Member

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    That's a good explanation, but it's still a bit of a mystery to me. Like steelhead, spawning SRCs don't die in the river, but can make their migration to the sea and back several times. And yet I've caught resident cutthroat in some Monatana streams that are just as big as some of the biggest searuns I've seen. Even if they stay within a few miles of the estuary, its surprising to me that the food available in the salt water isn't enough to routinely grow them to at least 3 or 4 pounds (kind of like the blackmouth that stay in the Sound). Beats me.

    db

    "If I don't catch them today, I'll catch them another day." Art Flick
     
  6. Dizane

    Dizane Coast to Coast

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    Sea-runs don't grow larger because of the multiple spawning runs they make. Spawning runs are hard on fish and they use up a lot of the fish's energy and fat reserves. Since sea-runs are making spawning runs every year, a lot of the nutrients that they have stored up from their summer feeding which would have helped the fish grow are used up in spawning instead. The same thing is true in steelhead many of the time. The biggest steelhead in a given year are usually not repeat spawners. Rather, they are fish which spent 3 or 4 years at sea instead of the normal 2. If the fish is a repeat spawner, then it is very likely that it was close to the same size on its first trip as it was on its second. A steelhead needs 3 or 4 years of uninterupted (no spawning) growth to become the 15-20 pound trophy steelhead.
    This is not to say that there aren't big sea-runs out there. This summer I personally caught several in the 18-20" range. So they are out there, but the average size is more like 12-14" because of the reasons above.
     
  7. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    There seem to be a few points that haven't been covered in the posts above and perhaps a few misconceptions as well. Once sea-run cutthroat have spawned for the first time (sometimes, even before they have reached sexual maturity they will accompany the ripe fish upstream) they will return to the spawning creeks every year. This means that they may spend only as few as three to five months (some fish may enter the rivers as early as July and not spawn until March)of the year in the rich pastures of the salt water and estuaries, where they put on almost all of their growth. To offset this, unlike steelhead, they feed avidly all the while they are in fresh water. Physical condition, in most instances then, remains quite good, unlike that of summer-run steelhead who feed little if at all. Also unlike steelhead, sea-run cutthroat can, and do, continue to put on size and weight between spawning runs. An eighteen-inch cutthroat will be nine or ten years old and will probably have made it's run at least six times.

    According to Curt Kraemer, most of the really large sea-run cutthroat (that very small number who reach a length of twenty-three or twenty-four inches), are actually cutthroat/steelhead hybrids and, at this time, virtually nothing is known about their life histories. Another factor that may bear on the ultimate maximum size of the anadromous coastal cutthroat is the size of it's preferred spawning creeks; most of these streams are extremely small and quite likely the cutthroat have evolved to fit those parameters.
     
  8. Whitey

    Whitey Active Member

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    wow, that is a lot of good info. I have done a lot of SRC fishing lately and all this info is very helpful. thanks. :THUMBSUP YT
     
  9. Peter Pancho

    Peter Pancho Active Member

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    Heres another important note, SRC tastes twice as good as Steelhead! Hatcheries of course...



    "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
    Matthew 4:19
     
  10. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    What do I know---I'm just an old man

    Don't we all know that. Before I seen the light and switched to catch and release I used to keep all the fish I caught. And I caught a few big ones. Used to fish the Skagit down by Milltown before they took that bridge out. Was good fishing. And also Pilchuck creek,this little number used to have a lot of big fish in it. I know I caught my few when ever I fished it. If I knew then what I know now I don't think that I would have kept those fish. But like every one else I thought that these fish would be here forever.

    Jim
     

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