World's biggest SRC

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#31
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 cuts. 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 cuts.

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.
Bob,
That is some interesting info on CA's cutthroat.
Thanks for posting that.
SF
 

Chucker

Active Member
#32
I caught a 23 incher on my second or third SRC trip, almost 20 years ago, and haven't seen one over 20 since.

There are a lot more people targeting SRC in saltwater now than there were then, so I think that if there were actually still really big fish out there we would hear about it. It isn't just SRC that are smaller either, the maximium and average sizes of chinook and coho have gone way down too. There are a few things you could point a finger at (sea lice!), but I think it's probably mostly related to declines in forage fish populations. Some good news is that there has appeared to be a bit of an uptick in those in the last couple of years, so maybe the fish will start to show it soon.

N.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#33
I keep hearing that more people targeting searuns and how they are struggling, but I'm personally not seeing it.
Sure, the really popular spots get hammered. I'm surprised the cutthroat don't know some of the anglers by their first names, as a lot of the same folks are there all the time.
I also think lots of folks try the salt a few times and without success, give up on it quickly.

That said, if a person is willing to drive and explorer, you can fish in solitude and not see other anglers in a day on the water.
Puget Sound and the canal have a ton of shoreline, much of which gets little to no pressure unless you are angling from a boat.
Knocking on a door, chatting folks up and offering to pick up litter isn't a bad way to gain access if your are so inclined.

I certainly hope in my lifetime that someone on this board catches an absolute toad searun, if anything to prove the naysayers wrong.
SF
 
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#35
I will say that mtskibum16 is on to
the old saying "Big fish big flies".
I was actually going to mention that. If I was going to trophy hunt I'd be thinking about gearing up similar to the guys chasing big browns. Fast sink lines and big streamers fished deeper than normal. I haven't spent any time targeting them that way, but I have a feeling that's how you'd find the big ones.
 
#36
The problem is the big fish don't fit through the nets. Can you imagine a SRC making multiple trips a year through the Skokomish and hood canal nets?
There's a lot of truth to that I think. I'm not sure what the target minimum size is for the nets, but I would think they are setup to catch 3-4lb+ salmon. So any SRC much over 20" would be in danger. It would be interesting to see an honest report of SRC bycatch from the tribes.
 

Jim B

Active Member
#37
About 20 years ago, I had the fortune to meet Cam Sigler, the legendary blue water fly angler, at his home on the north end of Vashon Island. I didn't know of his fame at the time, but noticed that there was a fly rod at the ready near his back door. As we got acquainted, I asked him about the fly rod...he told me that he flyfished the Vashon beaches on an almost daily basis, and many times had brought a 24"+ SRC to hand. Over the years, I've heard similar stories from Vashon fishermen, mostly dragging spoons while rowing along the shoreline.
 
#38
There's a lot of truth to that I think. I'm not sure what the target minimum size is for the nets, but I would think they are setup to catch 3-4lb+ salmon. So any SRC much over 20" would be in danger. It would be interesting to see an honest report of SRC bycatch from the tribes.
I'm sure there is some pretty serious bycatch of the larger fish. Bull trout too. From what I've seen, the minimum legal size of tribal net chord ranges from 4 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches in diameter depending on the seasons. That's a rough quoting based on an article I saw on the Nooksack nets I think? That's not very big.

There is so much accessible beach around, from the Canal, to South Sound, all the way up North. Very seldom have I encountering other anglers. I prefer it that way.

A lot of those bigger boils people see could be Bull Trout, not just big cutts. They are far less common down south but you'll get 'em out of the Coastal Rivers and some out of the Puke. It's odd though, with all of the reports we get of people down south, I don't know If I've ever seen someone report a Bull Trout.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#39
The problem is the big fish don't fit through the nets. Can you imagine a SRC making multiple trips a year through the Skokomish and hood canal nets?
Excellent point.
I've ask a fellow board member to send me a picture he took of dead searuns lying in the bottom of a tribal gillnet boat.
I can't seem to locate the copy of the picture he sent me on the day he observed it.
SF
 

Smalma

Active Member
#42
As PS coho continue to shrink in size we can expect that the by-catch of sea-runs in those fisheries will increase.

The Tulalip beach seine fishery has long been know as catching significant numbers of sea-runs though reportedly they now release more of those incidental trout than in the past. The in-river tribal sockeye fishery does catch a fair number of bull trout as the two species have an over-lap in run timing and some of the bull trout are as large or larger than the sockeye.

Of course of we are going to objectively look at mortalities that potentially contribute to declines in those larger cutthroat we should include our own fishing impacts. My observation over the decades has been that roughly 1 to 2% of the cutthroat that I catch are hooked in "critical areas" (locations where one expect to see significant bleeding and elevated mortalities). While that does not seem like a big factor in heavily fished populations where a high portion of the population could be caught each year over up to 7 years even low mortalities rates could significantly reduce the numbers of older /larger individuals.

Curt
 
#43
One simply doesn't post bull trout reports. :D I have never heard much of them in the south sound or canal either though.
I don't get it. Unbeknownst to me people get testy about people reporting on Bull Trout. Literally any beach in the North Sound has roaming Bulls. But people get so offended. I'm not trying to call anyone out or anything I'm just curious why people are so defensive about reporting them vs SRC, Blackmouth etc.
 

Dipnet

The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
#44
About 20 years ago, I had the fortune to meet Cam Sigler, the legendary blue water fly angler, at his home on the north end of Vashon Island. I didn't know of his fame at the time, but noticed that there was a fly rod at the ready near his back door. As we got acquainted, I asked him about the fly rod...he told me that he flyfished the Vashon beaches on an almost daily basis, and many times had brought a 24"+ SRC to hand. Over the years, I've heard similar stories from Vashon fishermen, mostly dragging spoons while rowing along the shoreline.
Man, do I remember fishing the shorelines of both Vashon and Maury back in the '60s and early '70s! As teens in the '60s, my buddies and I would troll many miles along those shores in search of cutts.

We were all gear or bait fishermen back then and some days it seemed like the fish wanted to eat small trolled "firecracker" herring but other times they'd turn up their fishy noses at bait and only attack metal. We had our best luck with spoons such as F.S.T.s, Freaks or small Canadian Wonders.

Quartermaster Harbor was a great place for cutts back then, especially along the Maury Island side. In the back of the harbor was a slough-like lagoon that we were told was an abandoned hatchery. We'd often raise the motor and row into that lagoon just for fun and sometimes saw a few reasonably large salmon cruising the shallow waters. Does anyone know if that was really an old hatchery?

Now that I'm reminiscing, I recall our group of north-end kids starting fishing cutts by simply walking down the shore between the Pt. Defiance Boathouse and Owen beach and casting herring or spoons. There's a bulkhead and fairly wide walkway that whole stretch and back then we simply called that stretch of bulkheaded beach "the seawall". Now it's become more gentrified and referred to as "the promenade" with the French pronunciation of "prom-a-nawd"! Sheesh! :rolleyes:

Back in the day, about halfway between the Boathouse and Owen Beach was a small draw with a stream that drained through the bulkhead into the salt. From the walk along the seawall, at that point, you could always see a number of nice SRC just sitting in the salt just where that stream drained, obviously waiting to see what goodies were going to be flushed out. My largest cutt ever was caught right there, boat trolling with a small herring. It weighed 3 1/2 lbs on the Boathouse certified scale.

Well, that's a stroll down my memory lane! But dang, those are pretty awesome memories, at least to me. I sure miss those days and it's very sad that my grandsons will not experience fishing like that. :(
 
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#45
I'm sure there is some pretty serious bycatch of the larger fish. Bull trout too. From what I've seen, the minimum legal size of tribal net chord ranges from 4 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches in diameter depending on the seasons. That's a rough quoting based on an article I saw on the Nooksack nets I think? That's not very big.


Nets most likely to catch SRC's ->>>South Sound Squaxin Tribal : Beach Seines – Maximum Length 600 feet/ Mesh Size: 3 Inch Min- 4 Inch Max