World's biggest SRC

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by SaltyTippet, Oct 27, 2017.

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  1. Ian Horning

    Ian Horning Active Member

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    I see lots of pictures of surprisingly large cutties come out of our rivers. 5-6-7lbers. Most of the ones I've heard of come out of the lower parts of rivers where the rivers are big and often difficult to probe with a fly rod, or gear for that matter. Those big fish usually like to hang out deep.

    If people stopped taking 5 fish limits daily and releasing a bunch of fish that got hooked in the eyes and gills we might see some more large fish in the lakes, like that ridiculous specimen Stonefish showed.

    The biggest I've caught was 22" out of a tributary stream. Swung fly. Looked like a little steelhead.
     
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  2. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    They were caught and kept.

    When I was younger we used to fish for them fish with night crawlers Caught some big fish out of the lower Skagit and Pilchuck Creek when the fish were running upstream. My father in law and my dad both liked to eat fish. So I kept them supplied with them.

    When the limits were higher than they are now you could catch a lot for a fish fry.
     
  3. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    In 50 years of fishing for sea-run cutthroat, the largest one I've seen was a 24-incher caught (and released) by the late Les Johnson; the largest I've ever caught was 21 inches. Both of these fish were from the the Stillaguamish River in late summer. While larger sea-run-cutthroat may occur, catching a twenty-inch fish is less likely than catching a twenty pound steelhead; eighteen inches is a more typical maximum length.

    Perhaps this size limitation is an evolved response to the sea-run cutthroat's preference for extremely small tributary streams for spawning purposes; spawning in water only four to six inches deep is difficult for fish beyond a certain size. Sea-run cutthroat are also iteroparous, spawning every year once they have achieved sexual maturity. The physical strain imposed by this annual process and subsequent recovery limits the rapidity of growth after the initial migration to saltwater as maiden fish.
     
  4. Dipnet

    Dipnet The wanted posters say Tim Hartman

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    The largest SRC I ever saw was back in the early '70s. I was employed at Pt. Defiance Boathouse in Tacoma. The marine collector for Pt. Defiance Aquarium had a 17 ft. Skippercraft with live tanks that were used to hold and transport fish and other marine life. He came in one day from the south Sound with the largest cutthroat I'd ever seen (and I'd been fishing 'em for about 8 or 9 years at that time). I asked him to place it on our platform-type scale before he transported it up the hill to the aquarium. It weighed 6 lbs. 3 oz.! A fish I will never forget!! Of course it was a commercially caught fish for live exhibit so didn't qualify for any sport record. He wouldn't really say where he got it but I'm pretty sure he was down somewhere by Harstene Island.
     
  5. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    An interesting discussion and like the others here I my thinking is that largest coastal cutthroat were/are produced by extended rearing in lake type environments. That said I would like to know about those California salt lagoons; have heard of some amazing fish coming from those waters and just another example of the adaptability of those coastal cutthroat in their habitat niches. The following is confined to my experience in the waters of Salish sea with the bulk of my experience coming from the north Puget Sound area.

    Historically, in Western Washington the truly large coastal cutthroat (those fish over 24 inches) were predominately produced in three types of waters; large lakes, beaver ponds and oxbow sloughs. Examples of lakes in addition to those all ready mentioned that have consistently produced include those large cutthroat include Whatcom, Cavanaugh, Goodwin, and Stevens. The largest coastal cutthroat +that have seen came from Lake Whatcom; the largest I checked was a 30 inch beast and saw several other fish in the 28+ inch range either in the creel or spawning in lake tribs. The largest I have personally caught was a 26.5 inch fish from Goodwin. Some beaver ponds also produced some of these exceptional cutthroat; those ponds typically were found in the lowlands, were fairly large (10 to 20 acres), and had long term stability. The hot bed for those types of ponds was the Kitsap peninsula. Some of those ponds consistently produced fish as large as 8 or 9#s. The potential "trophy cutthroat" oxbow sloughs were typically found on large main stem rivers and shared many of the same qualities as the beaver ponds. The best examples of those oxbows were in the Snohomish and Skagit basins. Unfortunately by 1980 or so the ability of all those waters to produce those exceptional fish had been compromised.

    Without exception those waters that produced those large cutthroat the trout were a dominate predatory and often the only top of line predator. For those cutthroat to achieve maximum size the water they lived in required diverse food basin (including large prey items). The needed enough productivity to reach effect predator size in 2 or 3 years leveling the fish several more years to take advantage of the large prey items. The spread of exotic species; especially bass (both largemouth and smallmouth) challenged the cutthroat for the top trophic level position. The ability of those unique beaver ponds to produced those exceptional cutthroat through land use changes and the spread of exotic fish species. The oxbow situation was similar to that of the beaver ponds and further compromised by interruption of the river process that form and refresh that sort of habitats.

    Shifting to the anadromous life history of the coastal cutthroat. The largest fish I have measured was 23.5 inches long (from the Nooksack) and my personal best has been 22 inches (from the Skagit). Have broken the 20 inch barrier in all the north sound basins as well as the salt of Hood Canal. Those exception size sea-runs tend to be both relatively older fish and had experienced one or more growing season with above "normal" growth rates. Our beloved cutthroat are a relatively short lives species with fish older than 8 being exceptionally rare. Somewhat surprising those populations with faster growth rates (lakes etc.) tend to have short life spans than those with slower growth rates. For example that beast from lake Washington whose picture Stonefish shared was only 7 years and those Lake Washington fish rarely live longer than 5 years. Emerging work by WDFW and the coastal cutthroat coalition is finding that the south Sound sea-runs tend to have a large size at a given age than what I have seen with north Sound fish but whose life spans seem to end a year or two earlier than those north Sound fish.

    To the question of what happen to the those large cutthroat of yore. I have to wonder if part of that story is what has been seen with the north Sound bull trout. Over a bull trout's life some change their life history behaviors; a resident fish becoming a fluvial fish or anadromous fish, an anadromous fish become a fluvial, etc.; on the Skagit fish collected over several years indicated roughly 8% of the adult fish had undergone at least one life history change. If those pre-1980s cutthroat from waters that produced exceptional sized fish found themselves running out of living space or food resources would some change their life history become sea-runs? I don't know but an interesting theory to consider. With the ability of those freshwater areas to produce those exceptional fish compromised coupled with the Game Departments screening of some lowland lake outlets in the 1950s and 60s do cause me to scratch my chin and wonder maybe!

    Speaking of bull trout I find it very interest that even though both bull trout and coastal cutthroat produce smolts of the same age (though the cutthroat smolts are bit larger) and both spend the marine time in near shore areas the bull trout grow faster. On the Skagit a strong hold for both species a 4 year maturing cutthroat with be 13 to 15 inches long and a 4 year bull trout will be 18 to 20 inches. That higher growth appears in general be maintained over the life span of the bull trout. As a result the maximum size of the two species who after the smolt stage share the same waters is roughly the same except that size is measured in inches for the cutthroat and pounds!

    The fact is that there still remains many mysteries about our coastal cutthroat and I think that is a good thing as mysterious nature of the species is part of its appeal.

    Sorry for the longish post.

    Curt
     
  6. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

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    The one Stonefish had the picture of was taken trolling on Lake WA.
     
  7. mtskibum16

    mtskibum16 Active Member

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    @Smalma between bass and hillbilly poachers, I don't think Kitsap Peninsula beaver ponds carry trophy cutthroat anymore.

    I saw the biggest SRC I've personally seen yesterday. It was chasing and slashing at a 16" cuttie I had hooked. It was roughly 50% bigger than the fish I caught and I'd guess in the 24"/4lb range. At first I thought it was a coho based on size, but it was colored exactly like the rest of the SRC. Saw it a couple times and even had it nipping my fly once. There was a whole school of SRC in a saltwater slough/estuary that I fished over for a couple hours.
     
  8. bek41

    bek41 Active Member

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    This is so interesting and I love hearing everyone's stories! The biggest one i have caught was around was 20". I have caught many around 18-19" tho.
     
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  9. Gyrfalcon2015

    Gyrfalcon2015 Wild Trout forever

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    do we REALLY want Sea Run Cutts this big? (Pyramid Lake Lahontan Cutthroat)

    Wait, let me re-think that myself....

    If SRC did get this big, they'd be on the threatened list, too
    1479321662472.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
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  10. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Active Member

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    I think coastal cutthroat are making a comeback down in California. Before I retired, we were restoring tidal wetlands in the Eel River Delta and one of the first salmonid species recorded in our project areas were coastal cutts. Similar projects are and have been undertaken in and around Humboldt Bay, and while other federally and state listed species (coho salmon, tidewater goby) were perhaps the target, cutthroat have benefited as well. Restoration projects continue up and down the north coast, primarily targeting small tributaries which are important for coho but obviously benefit cutts.

    California does have a history of propagating and planting coastal cutthroat along CA's north coast, primarily in the coastal lagoons (mainly Stone and Big Lagoons and Lake Earl). Originally a brood stock was maintained with fish originating from the Alsea River in Oregon. That broodstock program was discontinued in the late 1970's. In the late 80's to mid 90's, Humboldt State University's fish hatchery (along with the Mad River Hatchery) took over propagation. This was accomplished through collecting eggs originating from local wild adults and rearing to fingerling and sub catchable size. This was also discontinued due to concerns over cutthroat predation on tidewater gobies.

    The lagoons mentioned above have self sustaining, in some cases thriving cutthroat populations. These lagoons range in size from 500 acres (Stone Lagoon) to nearly 7,000 acres (Lake Earl). Lake Earl is in fact one of the largest coastal lagoons in the US. These lagoons are fed by small perennial streams and breach naturally most years. Lake Earl is breached artificially when water levels get too high and private property becomes inundated. All three are reputed to have (and continue) to produce trophy class coastal cutthroat. California doesn't officially recognize sub species in their freshwater records but the unofficial state coastal cutthroat record is 5 lbs 12 ounces taken in the 1980's from Stone Lagoon.

    Threads like this one is why I love this board. Thanks @SaltyTippet for starting this and thanks to all that have contributed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  11. Gyrfalcon2015

    Gyrfalcon2015 Wild Trout forever

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    Great stuff, Curt, and all

    With the advent of Google Maps, it is easy to see old oxbows in rivers, and this pic shows a couple of Oxbows going back a hundred years, atleast, maybe way more. They can produce big, beautiful, dark Coastal Cutthroat as long as bass do not get in there. If the access is surrounded by a herd of mean Angus bulls, the waters stay pristine ;)
    ox33.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
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  12. jasmillo

    jasmillo Active Member

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    You’re killing my excitement. I was already pouring over maps and and getting my bushwhacking gear together.

    YES!

    This is an excellent thread. Another fantastic example of why western WA is a great place to be a FF. Such a unique place. I have been targeting these fish pretty hard for about three years and the biggest fish I have landed was in the 17- 18 inch range. The only one I have ever caught on that beach. In my limited time chasing these fish, I have found this to be a pattern. I fish beaches that kick out a ton of SRC and a few that don’t kick out a ton but the ones they do are generally very nice fish.

    Curious if others have experienced this? Again, with only a few years under my belt, what I’ve experienced could very well just be driven by some other factor I’m not considering or limited time on the water..
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
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  13. Gyrfalcon2015

    Gyrfalcon2015 Wild Trout forever

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    this is the kind photo we do not like to see, this was sent to me by a pal and do not know it's origin. A taxidermist doing a BIG coastal.

    Big and heavy fish, very similar in dimension to the one I mentioned in an earlier post that was 6-7 pounds.

    cutttt77.jpg
     
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  14. Go Fish

    Go Fish Language, its a virus

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    The legend of the monster Coastal Cutts.

    I've heard my share from a 26 incher caught
    off Misery Point to the 24 incher caught off
    Stretch Island. I've gotten many in the 18 to 19
    range with a handful bigger.

    I believe that in the salt there are much bigger fish than
    26 inches. I've seen too many missed fish and huge
    swirls that make you curse under your breath.
    They are out there but I won't say where in
    PS to find them. I will say that mtskibum16 is on to
    the old saying "Big fish big flies".
    Dave
     
  15. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

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    Be glad that SRC are typically 12 to 18 inches long and rarely exceed 5lbs. If the majority of SRC were larger than 4lbs plus they would be in the same position as our salmon and steelhead. Commercially fished to death!
     

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