Cutthroat Poachers!!!

To add to the above post. Under the ESA there are several levels:

Not Warranted: No protection, the specie is found to be healthy
Species of Concern: Currently no protection, however they need to keep on eye on them
Candidate Species: These are species that are currently under review for ESA protection
Threatened: Low numbers of specie
Endangered: Simply means the specie number is so low that it is near extinction

As you see on the WDFW report ALL sea run cutthroat are listed as "Not Warranted" basically means no protection for this specie, and the population is found to be healthy
My mistake, thanks for clearing that up ;)


Active Member
The sea-run cutthroat was made catch-and-release in salt water due to the efforts of sportsmen. I remember attending many F&W Commission meetings with Les Johnson and others, testifying to the wisdom of making all saltwater cutthroat fishing catch-and-release due to the mixed-stock nature of almost all saltwater cutthroat populations. Since cutthroat can move up to 40 km from the estuaries of their natal streams to feed, stocks naturally become mixed and a consumptive fishery could potentially place disastrous pressure on some small creek populations. It was a victory for sportsmen but ESA had nothing to do with it. In view of declining cutthroat numbers in southwest Washington, subsequent efforts to have sea-run cutthroat listed under ESA have failed based on the argument that, since resident cutthroat populations in that area are healthy, recruitment "should" take place. So far, it hasn't.

By the way, "species" is both singular and plural. "Specie" is coined money


Bird Dogs and Fly Rods
Sure wish they had the same protection in some of our rivers and streams, seen a awful lot of nice fish bonked. I wonder if that is ever likely to happen?


Active Member
gangly -
Withthe general apathy in the angler community and the fly fishers in particular such changes will continue to come about very slowly. When those types of regulations changes have made it to the public comments part of the WDFW regulation rules changes they have been met with huge yawns. It is very surprising that we have the conservative regs that we currently have on many waters given the general lack of interest expressed by cutthroat anglers.

Tight lines

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Without adequate enforcement, regulations become meaningless to the general population. Also, if the majority of the general population in an area don't like the regulations, they will disobey them with a wink, a grin and a nod to their neighbors who are winking back at them.
I have discovered that WDFW enforcement is nearly universally regarded by the SW WA locals as "the enemy" and to be watched out for.
In the last couple of weeks, I have been very dismayed by conversations I have had with other anglers who like to keep any cutthroat they catch for the fry pan....
A-holes who like to keep more than two, and not just fish over 14" but anything big enough to fry.
And a huge number of cutthroat are harvested by scofflaw locals from the Willapa and North Rivers, the Palix system, the Nemah system, and probably Smith Creek, the Bear River, and the Naselle River, every year, too. All those places are C&R for cutthroat, as listed in the special regs. Unfortunately, most of the locals hate that!

Funny thing is that in the tributary creeks of these listed streams, "statewide" rules apply, where an angler can retain two trout over 8". That's what they tell me, anyway.

Cutthroat don't get any respect at all out here, except for the comment, "they're good eating!"

I had a guy about my age but kind of obese, balding and really out of shape approach me on the ramp last week when I was loading my canoe up after fishing the Johns River, and of course he asks me what i was fishing for and if I had any luck.
I tell him "nothing up there but a few chubs and small cutthroat."
He then asks me about the "shad run." So I know he isn't from around here. "No shad in this system," I say. "Columbia river has 'em."
So he asks me about the cutts. I tell him, "Theres some searun cutts that come in here later. You are allowed to keep two over 14", if you can find 'em. I release nearly all of mine, but I'll keep a bleeder if its legal sized."
So he asks me why such a large size restriction...why not 8" or at least 12" and I tell him that's so that they have a chance to spawn at least once and I go on to bad-mouth the idiots who ignore the regs and take smaller and more fish than the regs allow, and you know what he says?
He tells me "I'm one of those guys!" so I nearly chase him off the ramp ranting at him about how greedy and ignorant that attitude was...he leaves in a big hurry, good riddance! I should have kicked his ass, but I'm a peace loving kind of guy.

Go Fish

Language, its a virus
Jim, I hate to say it but that seems to be true with too many people
around Washington. I've talked to some old-timers in my neck of the
woods and they don't give a crap about the SRC's other than they are good
table fare. Luckily, based on what I've been catching, the population of
Cutts in the South Sound seems to be growing and healthy thanks to
people like Les Johnson and so many others. All we can do is continue to
educate and inform (and kick ass if needed).

gangly -
Withthe general apathy in the angler community and the fly fishers in particular such changes will continue to come about very slowly. When those types of regulations changes have made it to the public comments part of the WDFW regulation rules changes they have been met with huge yawns. It is very surprising that we have the conservative regs that we currently have on many waters given the general lack of interest expressed by cutthroat anglers.

Tight lines
I'm thinking that it can't hurt to give this another run. I have the backing of several local clubs to gather petitions, and a supporter at dfw who needs to remain unnamed. Last year, we managed to plug the hole in the Deschutes river in which cutts could be kept in the stretch beginning at Capitol Lake upstream to Henderson Blvd, so that stream is now C&R year round.

I have volunteers ready to submit regulation change suggestions and pass petitions, a small war chest, and I personally attend the hearings to testify since I live here in Olympia.

The step I'm at presently is soliciting input from concerned supporters like those who post here. I will provide the activism.

So: Starting with members here, please begin articulating the changes to fresh water regulations for which you see a need, and which streams the changes should apply to. The objective being to end the legal harvest of any coastal cutthroat that isn't hatchery clipped. I will be starting a thread on this once the ball is rolling, and traveling to clubs statewide once we've built a decent presentation, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up; there are too many guys posting in this poaching thread who have helped in the past.

I realize that enforcement is another issue, but does that mean we just throw up our hands?


Active Member
Don -
I wish you luck in you effort!

To have CnR of cutthroat in rivers meaningful one needs to also ban bait; ie selective regulations. That has and will likely to continue to be a tough sale.

In the past successful attempts to change such regulations have happen in infrequent and short windows - when the politics and biology align so that change can occur. In the last 15 years or so in my part of the world (north Puget Sound) there has been couple of such "windows". In both cases support of the fly fishing community was very low. Without significant support it has been difficult to spring board to wider applications when those "windows" have been open

If you hope to have success you'll need to have your home-work done so that if a "window" opens you can take advantage of the opportunity. When the review and broader application of the new stream strategy the State attempted in Puget Sound streams this past may create the "window" you will need. Expect that to happen in 2011 for the 2012 season.

However I do have to caution that if you do reach that critical point where support will make a difference you are likely to undercut by apathy.

Tight lines

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
As contrary as this sounds, I would be happy just to see the 2-fish, 14" size limit enforced. When one considers all the poaching going on out in my area, as well as the significant LEGAL harvest that occurs, the Coastal Cutthroat population seems fairly healthy, in spite of the hammering they get. They seem to have an amazing ability to hold up to, and rebound from, continuous harvest pressure.
A friend of mine told me that lsst fall, he witnessed a couple of guys taking out an entire bucket full of searuns from the public access area on Johns River, with no regard to size, but he doesn't want to be known as a snitch, so he's no good as a witness. Other people saw this too, he said, but the guys drove their 4-wheelers to their home (just up friend saw the same 4-wheelers in the driveway later) and no one said a word to them about it. No one wants to be known as a "snitch" around here, for good reason.
I would definitely called these guys in if I saw 'em, but I would have been very cautious to do so unobserved, and would definitely ask to remain anonymous. My life and well-being probably depend upon my remaining anonymous in any reporting of violations I do around here.

To put forth an even more contrary idea, maybe the regs in the Willapa Bay tribs should be changed to allow harvest of two fish 14" or more, so the residents down there don't feel like they're getting singled out and punished. The Willapa Bay tribs that I fish all seem to have just as healthy runs of searun cutts as the Grays Harbor streams.
Doe this sound shocking? Especially coming from a guy who loves fly fishing for these awesome game fish and releases nearly all of 'em? Probably. (I will sometimes bonk a legal sized bleeder).
I say it just makes the regs more consistent and eliminates a major source of ire felt buy SW coastal locals. Perhaps then they would not feel so much that WDFW has its head recto-cranially inverted and might actually choose to follow what they would then consider to be fair regulations? Maybe more 11" to 13.5" fish would survive to spawn? Maybe a little knowledge of "human behavior in response to authoritarian rule" might help see this point.

Or maybe they'd all just continue taking whatever they wanted anyway. They can all dance figure eights around the Game Warden(s), since enforcement is mimimal, and has a lot of territory to cover.

I dunno...this is just something I have come to consider after living and fishing around here for a while. I'm not sure if I actually believe it would work or not. Just a contrarian thought, up for discussion, hopefully to be shot down by some impeccable logic from one of the sharper minds on this board.

I have to guess that anyone seeing the allowable catch increased would construe the move as a green light to become even more greedy.

WDFW enforcement is sensitive to the fact that turning in your neighbor can come back to bite, so are going to great lengths to protect those calling in poachers. I read in the paper this morning that you can now text in violators, and the system automatically protects the identity of the informants. Being one of the 7 or 8 guys in the 21st century who does NOT use text messaging, it doesn't help me, but the move shows that the officials will go out of their way to protect tipsters. If you have description of the violators, time and place of the crime, and even better, license plates, they will get them eventually. Maybe not the first time, but guys who feel so blatant about their right to poach will have patterns that they repeat, like when they're off work, tide exchanges, etc. Tell the officers what's going on, and then arrange to be gone when they get popped.

They'll think they were captured by satellite.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Thanks for the reply, Don. You may be right about "giving them the green light." At least some of the poachers would see it that way. I'm sure tha for some of them, a rule change wouldn't change their behavior much. Right now they can't legally keep any Searun Cutts at all in any of the rivers or streams that empty into Willapa Bay. But I'm betting that some of the old timers might be content to keep only 14"ers or greater if they could do so legally.

I have a cell phone now, and know how to text the Tipp line, and even have the local Gamies' personal cell#s written down, too. I'm putting all those on "speed dial."

Sometimes there are so few people in any one area at any one time, that violators can figure out that you "must have been the one" who called them in (if they saw you), since nobody else (who wasn't a known poacher-friendly local) was around there at the time. This has happened to me, and I got some negatory feedback about it on several occasions. Now I'm kinda paranoid, and thinking of getting a few sidearms and a cwp.