Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Chester Allen, Oct 17, 2012.
Sick fish , all of them!
I'll tell you what, taking the 5 wt. out this morning after casting the 8 wt for 1.5 months was quite the experience.
Thing felt like a straw, and it was very weird not having a heavy, barbell-eyed clouser on the end. I was fishing a popper, which basically felt like having nothing on the end of my line.
Getting excited to spend some time on the cutts though. The last two mornings have been great for them.
A quick pic of this guy before he swam off to fight another day... I fished 3 mornings last week in the rocky bay area on Case inlet and landed about 25 fat cutt's over the 3 mornings... very few small fish, most were in the 16-17 inch range with a couple maybe 18".
olive over white clouser was the ticket... Great fish'n !!!
I've been fishing Puget Sound like a maniac since 1993, and this has been the best fall fishing yet. I think mandatory catch and release makes this fishery better every year, and I suspect -- and hope -- that things will continue to improve. I think about that state record cutt caught in South Sound decades ago, and I wonder how much bigger our fish can get.... In any case, nothing beats walking a beach with a light rod and a box of streamers and poppers.
All I can say is: Wow!
It is great they have protection in the salt. To bad they don't have that same protection in the rivers.
Lets go fishing!
Those are some fine looking cutthroat! Thanks for the report(s) and pics. Dang me! I haven't been hitting the beaches. Only twice this season, with small fish to hand.
Released a nice one at least 15" to 16" yesterday in a local river, about 5 miles upstream from the mouth. I saw it splash, rigged up my 6 wt and got it 2nd cast. It took a conehead sculpin pattern swung on a clear intermediate sinktip. It put up a great fight. My best cutthroat of the year, so far. My buddy took a pic, but he hasn't e-mailed it to me yet. He released one about the same size that took his Coho jig.
We were mainly casting spinners for coho, and we lost every one we hooked. No cigar. But they were in the river and biting!
I think I'm going to go hike that river with my 4 wt, but a bit further upstream. Very soon.
Note to Stonefish: I think the message is being heard. Nearly every other angler we spoke with on the river (a Grays Harbor trib where one can retain 2 trout over 14") yesterday voiced their approval of C& R for the cutthroat.
That's a great photo with the starfish in the background....very cool composition Mud
Chester et al
Some very nice fish!
I don't fish South Sound but from reading the reports it seems like there are not many small fish (those 9 to 13 inch). Is that the case through out the area?
Our sea-run cutthroat tend to be slow growing and relatively short lived fish. It is rare to find fish more than 7 or 8 years old with those generally being the giants for that life history for the species. As a result the fish in the fishery tend to be composed of 3 (immature first time returns) to 8 year olds and on the average in a stable populations the portion of the population at each age class should be smaller than the younger classes; the 3 year olds being the most common and the 8 year olds the rarest. Of course in the real world the is considerable variation in the strength of each year class. While it is fun fishing on a population with few younger fish and mostly larger/older fish one has to wonder about the coming years. Who is going to relace those older fish as they die?
Here on the north Sound "S" this season (as well as last year) my fishing also had an exceptional number of very large fish (those over 18 inches). Using the Stillaguamish as an example this fall there were tons of first time returning fish (9 to 12 inch) , as I said an exceptional portion of the older fish, but not so many mid-size fish. As those older fish leave the population there appear to fewer fish that are a year or two younger to replace them. The great news is the lots of new fish and we should those fish contributing to the populations as older/larger fish for the next several years. However at the same time I expect to see fewer fish over 18 inches.
In short a robust population should be more complex than just one dominated by larger fish. I always enjoy those years when the exceptional becomes more of the norm but also realize that such a situation is not the long term norm.
sure makes me want to live closer to that area. sad thing is in the Everett area the beaches are mostly sand and shallow.
Curt, do the south sound cutts spend a longer time in the salt ? is that why they run a little bigger ?
That fly looks strikingly familiar, Chester.
Since many (most?) of the South Sound and Hood Canal streams are smaller in size than those in the North Sound, they are less hospitable in terms of food and habitat. In many cases these streams carry so little water that access to them by cutthroat is not available until flows stabilize at higher winter levels. This has led to a somewhat different life cycle among cutthroat than that common to rivers like the Skagit, Stillaguamish, or even the Cowlitz (in the days before construction of the dams, hatchery etc., the first major runs of harvest trout were expected to occur right around the Fourth of July).
It has been pointed out to me by anglers with lots of experience with South Sound, Hood Canal and Willapa Bay cutthroat fisheries that cutthroat not only enter the creeks much later in the year but tend to spend much less time there. I fished the Naselle River last spring with an acquaintance who assured me that the largest numbers of cutthroat enter the river in December and a few were still dropping back to salt water in June. The fish we caught were fat and well-conditioned, obviously not too adversely affected by their spawning exertions. Doug Rose and Jeff Delia assure me that areas, in and around Hood Canal, like Quilcene and Indian Island, provide an almost year-round salt water cutthroat fishery, and I hope to spend some time there with them this winter and next spring.
Since maiden cutthroat can grow as rapidly as an inch a month on their first season in the salt it should not be surprising that, with less time spent in fresh water, the opportunities for growth would be enhanced.
Here's a picture of a Naselle River cutthroat, spotted clear down to its belly and with brilliantly-colored ventral fins.
I'm not at all certain of this, but I think that some of the earlier spawning Searun Cutts that have already dropped back into the bay might head back upstream a little on the main stems to chow down on the Chum and other salmon fry that are coming down out of the creeks in early Spring.
I think this happens on the North River around early April near the mouth of Lower Salmon Creek, as well as other smaller nearby creeks, which enter the river near the head of tidewater.
A few years ago, a friend of mine witnessed some poachers retaining a whole bucket of good sized cutthroat there on April 1st. He told me that he saw some large trout in the mix. He wasn't aware of the fishing seasons or regs, and wasn't fishing. He was just out for a boat ride with his GF. They enjoyed a beer and some pleasant conversation with the poachers. It wasn't until after he told me about the incident that he found out that they had been hob-nobbing with poachers.
That was how I found out about what some locals have referred to as a "Spring run" of Bluebacks. However, the river closes for trout fishing at the end of Feb and doesn't open up again until June.
Perhaps those North R searun cutts have recently migrated back to tidewater after spawning, but are still hanging out in the lower river so as to capitalize on the hatching and outmigrating Chum fry. This is just a guess.
I have caught what looked like post-spawn cutts upstream in smaller Grays Harbor tribs in Feb. when steelhead fishing. They were dark and often a bit thin looking, and really hungry.
Most of the searun cutts in my local streams that stack up in the pools near the head of tidewater in Sept seem to run upstream with the first heavy rains. Then there are fewer fresh searuns to be found in that upper tide-affected zone. I think that the later entering searuns just sort of trickle in, or maybe they shoot right upstream from the Bay, without holding in the upper tidewater pools very long. I rarely find any in that zone whenever the conditions allow me to paddle upstream during the late Fall and Winter. They have followed the salmon up. But I often find a few holding upstream when I hike and wade.