Sea-Run Cutthroat - Silver?


Nil desperandum, trutta semper est.
Hey guys -

Just found this forum. I like it. A while back I wrote about some sea-run cutthroat trout, which don't appear to get any attention nationally (maybe you like it that way).

My question is, having never seen a sea-run cuttie, are they, being genetically so similar to rainbows, also prone to turning silver in the ocean? Can you have a steelhead cutthroat trout?

Second question: do you guys get a run of sockeyes that far south, or alternatively have any kokanee (freshwater sockeye) to fish for? Anyone targeting these fish on flies?

Thanks a lot - you guys may not realize it but you are the envy of the entire East with your anadromous fisheries.

Zach Matthews
a searun cuttrout is just that, a cutthroat that goes to saltwater and returns. a steelhead is a rainbow that goes to the salt and returns. there are also resident rainbows and cutthroat- neither goes to the salt. the uk, and other parts of the world have brown trout that go to the ocean too, as well as resident browns. i don't fish the salt, so someone else will have to answer about the coloring.

there are kokanee in washington and oregon in several lakes.

sockeye? again one of the folks from washington will have to answer that one.
Zach, the searun cutthroat ussaully have a yellowish tinge to them and appear quite bright in color , but i would say not like a steelhead if that answers your ?, and as far as sockeye- yes we do, and for kokanee- yes we do, ussually in lakes at the mouths of creek inlets. riffe lake i think (hwy12) has a good run of kokanee in the southeast corner that gets some press, i myself have never targeted them,but searuns are in the blood:) as for envy, ill trade you 10 lbs of trout for 20 lbs of striper:)

bhudda- the uninformed one


Nil desperandum, trutta semper est.
You may have me on the striper, bhudda, but the problem is the linesides are all out in the reservoirs and it takes a big budget to even get a crack at them.

Crobarr - I knew the cutthroat ran to the ocean and came back, and thanks to all for the description. I need to find a picture I think.

There's a small impoundment in North Carolina that has a kokanee salmon population and has had since the 1950s. I just discovered a way to fish for them this year and this October I am going to target them in earnest. Does anyone know of particularly effective flies for spawn-running kokanee?



Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Is this the same Zach that posts on Dan Blanton's board? If so, welcome aboard.
I've been told that the largest searun cutts (20" +) are actually cutt / steelhead hybrids. You may want to post this same question in the salt forum. Board members Les, Curt and others with better knowledge then myself will have more info on this for you.
Most cutthroat up to 20" are up to 10+ years old and are most likely pure cutthroat. Exceptionally large cutthroat -- and the jump in size with these fish is from 20 to perhaps 25". I've caught just one this size in my 50-years of fishing coastal cutthroat on the Pacific Coast. It came from the main stem Stillaguamish River. Retired Region Four biologist, Curt Kraemer figures that this lunker was very likely a hybrid that had crossed with a Deer Creek steelhead. I looked just like a pure cutthroat. In order to get it back into the water quickly I did not check the fish for hyoid teeth which would have been a clue.
Our coastal cutthroat do indeed get very silvery in Puget Sound. There are several photos in my book, "Fly-Fishing Coastal Cutthroat Trout" that show saltwater cutthroats that are bright. They still look like trout though, spots and all. They are easily distinguished from coho (silver) salmon. Hope this helps.
Good luck,
Les Johnson


Banned or Parked
ZachMatthews said:
Does anyone know of particularly effective flies for spawn-running kokanee?
I've had some pretty good sessions on them with a JJ Special. Medium-fast strips had them chasing and fighting for it.


Active Member

Here's a link from a few ago, never did have any sucess unless you'd call dragging a ford fender, wedding ring and a maggot tipped hook fishing. The rig is so heavy you can't tell when you have a fish on.
The fish here seem to hold too deep for fly gear and the jet ski hatch can be a major pain.
Be interested in hearing your method, if it's not top secret.

Zach, here's one of my favorite photos of a sea-run cutthroat. This fish was very bright, however, you can see the gold/yellowish coloring bhudda mentioned.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Hey Zach. How goes it? Surprised you never found this place before. Oh yeah, this is Steelheader69 from the other boards.

Actually, the kokanee I've caught on flies have all been caught on similar flies I've used for trout. Buggers, leeches, etc. Will agree though, we had alot of luck though trolling wedding rings more so then flies.
re hybridization: Coastal cutts are the oldest cutt lineage, and the only one to have co-evolved in the presence of rainbows for a significant amount of time over most of their range. Because of this, cutt-bow hybridization in native coastal populations is thought to be pretty rare.