October is for Sea-run cutts

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Chester Allen, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    Cranberry Country...a glorified coastal swamp!
    That's certainly a colorful cutthroat there in your pic, Preston. I once caught a chunky and heavily spotted 15"er with similar coloration in the upper tidewater reaches of a local creek here in early July. Didn't get a pic, but its burned into my memory.
     
  2. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    There is so much food available year-round in the Twin Harbors estuaries (Bay and Harbor included), that I'm sure that our Searun Cutthroat are very well fed.
     
  3. miyawaki

    miyawaki Active Member

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    Awhile back, Ned Krilich posted a photo of beautiful large searun cutthroat. It was a southsound fish.

    Leland. Ned Krilich Cutt.JPG
     
  4. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    That's one healthy looking prime specimen of a cutthroat, and a big grin to go with it.
     
  5. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    Jim,
    For years there was a very popular fishery for sea-run cutthroat (and bull trout) in the tidal reaches of the Skagit River in the early spring. The regulations changed from open year-round to closed until June 1st in the last cycle. Many of these cutts were fish which had finished spawning, dropped down to salt water and then moved back up to dine on the bounty of chum and pink fry migrating downstream (both chum and pink fry begin their downstream migration as soon as they hatch in the spring) and others were smolts, moving down to salt water for the first time. Ken McLeod developed one of the first pink/chum fry imitations, the Skagit Minnow, back in the forties specifically for this fishery.
    DSCF3369.JPG
     
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  6. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    So we have the Skagit Minnow, Les Johnson's Thorne River Emerger, Doug Rose's Keta Rose, Bob Triggs' Chum Baby, and a whole bunch of other Chum fry imitations that members here have been coming up with.

    I'm just glad that Spring is a long ways off, which will give me a chance to tie some up.
     
  7. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    skyrise -
    I have seen no information to indicate that the south Sound cutthroat are longer lived or faster growing than their cousin's to the north. It does seem like the north Sound rivers have a lot more smaller immature fish in the population which may skew the age structure of the population a bit. However my experience has been that my catch rate (fish/trip -especially the last couple years) of those large fish (say over 18 inches) compares well from the reports from down south.

    While we talk about the differences between north and south Sound cutthroat the reality is that one can note population differences even between rivers within the larger regions (north/south Sound/Coa).

    JIm
    A simple fly that I have had success with for decades on the lower Skagit (and elsewhere) when the fish are taking pink or chum fry is spider with a silver body with an over wing of 12 or 14 bucktail hairs. For the generic pattern I use a half and half bucktail mix of chartruese and blue. I tie them in 6s and 4s matching the fly length with fry size. I often use the larger pattern using brown bucktail when I think the cutthroat/bulls are targeting chinook fry migrants. While that lower Skagit fishery is mostly on cutthroat and similar sized bull trout it is not uncommon to take several larger (in some cases much larger) bull trout on those fry patterns.

    BTW -
    In this year's WDFW regulation recommended for consideration is one to re-open that lower Skagit fishery during the March to May period under selective gear rules and 1/2 inch hook gap minimum size. Those that have enjoyed that fishery in the past or would like to experience it for the first time may want to provide a comment to the WDFW commission.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  8. Chester Allen

    Chester Allen Fishing addict and scribbler

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    Curt,
    Happily, I've been catching a lot of smaller fish as well, including a few small fish that are clearly on their first trip into the salt. I tend to leave a beach -- or that section, anyway -- if a lot of small fish snap at my flies.

    I also usually don't take photos of fish unless they're special in some way, and, yeah, size factors in there.

    I don't have your biological training, but my catches this year show me a pretty good mix of sizes and ages here in South Sound, which along with Hood Canal, is where I do most of my sea-run cutthroat fishing. Larry Phillips, the South Sound biologist, might have some harder data for you.

    Over the years I've fished South Sound -- since 1993 on -- I've noticed more larger fish and more fish altogether on a consistent basis since then. Kudos to WDFW and the commission to make catch and release for cutts in the salt! I also suspect that the effort to improve salmon habitat has paid off for cutts as well, particularly in the removal of bad culverts and the removal of the dam on Goldsborough creek.

    Now, if we could just convince the city of Olympia to let Capitol Lake revert back into a natural estuary. :)

    Fish cycles are fascinating. I've also been fishing Oregon's Deschutes River a lot this summer and fall. I've fished this river since 1982, and I've seen cycles of lots of big fish but few small fish and vice versa. I just got off the river -- near Maupin -- and we seem to be in one of the golden areas where the average fish is probably 12 inches or so, but there's a good number of larger and smaller fish as well.

    I think the Crooked -- trib to the Deschutes -- is on a cycle of lots of smaller fish right now, and that happens a lot on that river.

    This is just what I've seen, and I know that doesn't make it science. :)









     
  9. Chester Allen

    Chester Allen Fishing addict and scribbler

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    Ned is a cool guy and great angler. I'm proud to say that he's my friend.
     
  10. Chester Allen

    Chester Allen Fishing addict and scribbler

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    Nice fish, Preston!

    I agree that South Sound and Hood Canal fish spend more time in the salt than the fresh. I mostly see cutts in freshwater when they're spawning in the skinny headwaters -- they get up there, do it and leave asap -- or when they're dining on salmon eggs and flesh in the fall and winter.






     
  11. Go Fish

    Go Fish Language, its a virus

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    Great info from the Coastal Cutt crowd.
    I'm not a biologist but I do play one on TV.
    In the 14 years of living on Case Inlet, which is
    then furthest you can go on Puget Sound, I have
    found more cutts and bigger cutts on average. Biggest
    here was just over 20 inches with a handfull in the 18
    range. The fishing usually is good through Turkey Day.
    The reports from the East side of the Canal have been even
    better than here. I would not be suprised to see the State
    Record (photos only) broken on Hoods Canal in the next few years.

    Dave
     
  12. troutaholic

    troutaholic Member

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    Here's a nice 14 incher I got last week in my local South Sound creek. Next cast I got one that pushed 18 but didn't take a pic. All in all got 4 on a simple unweighted brown and grizzly woolly bugger. I agree every year in the last 6 or so has seen more and larger fish. This creek implemented catch and release last year and that's helped as well.
     

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  13. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    Love the spotting on that fish--all the way up to the tip of the lower jaw!

    J
     
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  14. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

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    That is one serious looking Sea Run.
     
  15. rotato

    rotato Active Member

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    Sweet looking fish
    All the spots!