south fork cutthroat

I am new to the area. First of all, thanks a lot. This board has been very helpful to me in deciding where and how to begin to tackle flyfishing in Washington. I was on the Upper part of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie above exit 42 and caught what I believe to be Cutthroat (not a rainbow). I am trying to figure out what variety of cutthroat the South Fork residents most resemble to make sure. Does anyone know? Thanks
That area has many areas of cutthroat fishing. Even more so on some of the feeder streams. Most if not all are catch and release only some are flyfishing only, make sure to check the regs, but hours of fun can be had. For a real challange fish some of the small inlet stream pools for some sight and stalking of fish. Nothing like sneaking up a small stream and sight fishing to a 9"-11" fish. Try it sometime you may like it. A couple of hints: remove watch, dark color cloths, and walk softly. The slightest sound will put them down. If you can, work down stream toward the pools and dabble fly into current but remember they are looking up the stream. I have found the fly type does not mater much but a royal wolf sunk just below the surface film is one I use most of the time but any small fuzzy pattern will work. Last year was the first year I tried this type of fishing and its something I enjoy in that area around exit 42 when I am in the area. :WINK


Active Member
I haven't fished the forks of the Snoqualmie for many years and am not sure whether the fish in the forks are native or the progeny of the fish that have been stocked there there over many years. I believe that Snoqualmie Falls has represented an insurmountable barrier to fish colonization since the last Ice Age so the latter is most likely. Virtually all of the cutthroat that have been stocked in Washington are either westlope cutthroat (from Twin Lakes hatchery stock) which were planted very widely in mountain lakes and streams at one time, or coastal cutthroat. The two subspecies are easily distinguished except, of course, where hybridization has occurred. Hybridization with rainbows is also common where the two species occur sympatrically.
This sounds about right. The river hasn't been planted since the 70's but a few fish from high lakes that are planted may occasionally enter the system.

Has anyone ever caught a whitefish or brook trout from the South Fork? How about the cutt-bow hybrid or the Donaldson (sp?) hatchery strain? I hear that all the forks were stocked at one time or another. I have caught cutts, bows, brooks and whitefish from the S. Fork and only rainbows and cutts from the Middle and bows and cutts from the North fork. I am no scientist though.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I might be old---but I'm good.

I don't know about stocking that river,but I stopped at that spot on the three forks area. Where the Middle and North Fork meet. There is a info sign there about how the fishing used to be in the earily years. There used to be big fish in these rivers. So how did these fish get there if they didn't plant them.

Also one other note. Just up stream from Olallie Twin Falls State Park on the S/fork the is a small dam with a fish ladder there. They say it's so the fish can go up and down the river to spawn.

I guess that I just like to explore. Jim S. :COOK
Dave Shorett has written a book called "Washington's Central Cascades Fishing Guide". The book deals with fishing the lakes and streams in the North Bend, Snoqualmie Pass, Alpine Lakes, and Cle Elum areas.

Mr. Shorett says that the S. Fork contains predominantly cutthroat. Nevertheless, one also finds rainbow, cuttbow, whitefish and, rarely, brook trout in the lower reaches of the S. Fork. The S. Fork below Denny Creek has predominantly cutts with a few more brookies. Above Denny Creek, brookies become more and more prevalent, but cutts still predominate.


My friend caught a whitefish on the middle fork a few weeks ago during the flood stage. It was his first fish and I couldn't tell him what kind of fish it was until a week after the fact. Boy, they are strange looking fish.
I think in order for a river to contain big fish naturally, there has to be a nice supply of food and they have to be able to winter over a half a dozen times. I don't know if you have ever seen the floods on the rivers in November and March but I can't imagine a trout surviving that mess. Also, there is too much alkaline on westside rivers to sustain that type of insect population.
You most likely caught a coastal cutthroat or coastal cutt-rainbow hybrid. I have yet to catch a westslope cutt west of the cascades...has anybody else stumbled into one?


Active Member
As I said above, at one time they were the fish of choice for stocking in many of the high lakes. In the 'forties and 'fifties what were commonly known then as "Montana black-spotted cutthroat" were planted widely in the Cascades, both east and west of the crest (along with eastern book trout). I certainly caught plenty of them in the mountain lakes and nearby streams in those days. Most of these lakes and streams contained no fish prior to being stocked. I assume the westslope cutthroat was selected because the Game Department had a ready source of them in the Twin Lakes hatchery while most of the westside hatcheries were busy cranking out rainbows.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I might be old---but I'm good.

We used to catch a lot of them on the head waters of Canyon Creek. A trib of the Stilly. But that was about 35 years ago. Jim :BIGSMILE