Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout rules.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
#1
What if we had a winter closure on sea-run coastal cutthroat trout fishing on the saltchuck in the winter? Closing from October 31st to May 1st?

Do these wild trout need more protection than they are getting through the mandatory catch & release rules for saltwater now?
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#2
I'm not in favor of any closures, because once things get closed I think everyone knows how hard it is to get them back open again.

In my personal experience, the best three months of fishing for south sound and canal searuns are Oct, Nov and December before most of the fish spawn in late winter and spring.
That is when they are in their prime shape, showing off their golden hues and having had all summer to fatten up.

I think the time when folks need to use their own discretion is in the spring.
I know folks like to fish the chum fry hatch, but you'll also enounter some skinny, snaky post spawn fish at that time.
I'm guilty of encounters with those post spawn fish in the past.
SF
 

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
#3
"I think the time when folks need to use their own discretion is in the spring.
I know folks like to fish the chum fry hatch, but you'll also enounter some skinny, snaky post spawn fish at that time.
I'm guilty of encounters with those post spawn fish in the past."
SF

Good points.
 

Bob Balder

Willing to learn anything...
#4
I am unable to speak of the south sound as I am a north sound guy with precious little south sound experience. I do know though that in the North sound, after Mid November, cuthroat encounters are minimal up until mid to late April at best. A closure up here would serve little purpose and likely have no effect. I agree with Stonefish though, once you start cosing them it is tough to reverse course. Most of the damage done to cuthroat up here comes from folks fishing the Stilly or Skagit systems, so many of them either don't know or don't care about the catch and release only regulations in effect. And then there is the identification issue as well. As much as I don't believe that has a huge impact on the fishery, I do beieve the new Chinook regulations looming ahead will pretty much have those systems closed anyway.
To further validate my point with regard to winter cuthroat up here, last March I was at one of my favorite beaches tallking with a biologist for the state who regularly fishes there and he indicated he had not seen a cuthroat since the first week of November.

BB
 

jasmillo

Active Member
#5
Curious if there was some science behind this question?

I would be all for it if there was solid science saying it was needed. Outside of that, no for the reasons already stated. However, from what I have heard these fish are doing very well. Is that not the case?
 

Go Fish

Language, its a virus
#6
Based on my experience Coastal Cutthroat populations
have increased dramatically in the south sound. I see no
need to close a catch and release fishery during prime time.
Everything else will be closed eventually unfortunately.
Dave
 
#7
Why would we voluntarily stop the already very low pressure on a very healthy run of fish? As @Stonefish stated you can run into post spawn fish in the spring, however, even that is pretty simple to avoid.

The regulations are pretty sound on this fishery. Catch and release with barbless hooks is pretty low impact. Most of the best places to fish for them are not accessible from the beach, and the majority of the fishing pressure is from the beach. Obviously education is needed in the ethical practices of catch and release (Ex. "It's probably not a good idea to drag your fish across the rocks and pose it for a picture next to your dry new rod and reel." "If you are handling the fish, keep your fingers out of their gills and mouth." "It's a fish, they don't like to be dry."

I have been on the water quite a few days a week all winter with my clients, and we have encountered nothing but healthy flawless fish all winter. Its probably pretty easy to say this is when they are at their healthiest conditions of the year. Easily when we get the biggest fish of the year.

I see no reason for a closure at any point in the year. Considering the diversity of spawning times, there is pretty much always a healthy fishery.
 

Clint F

Fly Fishing Youth
#9
I don't think it is needed to close salt water c& r on the cutthroat. majority at handled properly, numbers seem to be great, and they are protected quite well when spawning as all the creeks are closed during that time.
 
#10
I liked the discussion Bob. I think what makes this fishery available year round is the fact that we're fishing in the salt water. The fish are protected when they are up river to spawn, and the spawning times seem to be very spread out. This enables us to fish for only fish that are ready to go upriver, or fish that have come back out. They get to rest and spawn unmolested for the most part, other than incidental catch when steelheading. I feel that its a very unique fishery that way.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
 

Dizane

Coast to Coast
#11
What if we had a winter closure on sea-run coastal cutthroat trout fishing on the saltchuck in the winter? Closing from October 31st to May 1st?

Do these wild trout need more protection than they are getting through the mandatory catch & release rules for saltwater now?
Everything I see suggests SRC are thriving under the C&R rules they've been managed under for what, 20+ years now? Your suggestion would eliminate some of the best months for SRC. It seems to me like you've got a solution looking for a problem.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#12
One other thing I should have mentioned in my initial post.
I've always found it odd that they are protected in the salt, but they are fair game for harvest once they reach certain streams.

I'm not sure how many are harvested in streams, but I've seen pictures and in person big beautiful cutts that have been harvested.
It seems the two fish over 14" rule is a bit outdated in this day and age of trying to protect native wild fish populations.

I also know some rather large specimens are taken in marine net fisheries. Probably a pipe dream, but having larger net mesh size would save some of those larger fish.
SF
 
#13
One other thing I should have mentioned in my initial post.
I've always found it odd that they are protected in the salt, but they are fair game for harvest once they reach certain streams.

I'm not sure how many are harvested in streams, but I've seen pictures and in person big beautiful cutts that have been harvested.
It seems the two fish over 14" rule is a bit outdated in this day and age of trying to protect native wild fish populations.
I think it's absolutely silly that we allow people to keep resident rainbows- those bigger fish (18-20+") do exist and frequently interbreed with steelhead and such... why they aren't protected baffles me. In my elitist opinion, native trout should fall under catch and release exclusively in our streams statewide.
 

rotato

Active Member
#14
Back in the day beach seiners would crush the sea runs. The limit seiners set their nets outside the usual cutthroat neighborhood. Not to say commercial fishing has no impact on them, but minimal. I realize it's anecdotal but last year I fished we caught over 400 thousand pounds and I never saw a searun. Steelhead, well thats different, maybe ten chromers were caught.
 

Smalma

Active Member
#15
Bob -
A great topic for a mid-winter day. I have long felt that giving those post spawn fish a break as they try to recovery condition for the next life cycle. Do we want to interrupt their feeding as the attempt to regain their condition? Often it seems that kelts of most of our trout/steelhead post spawn once they start feeding do so pretty aggressively and it seems to me at times take fly deeply (more mortality?). While the mortality of CnR is low it is not zero and I see nothing wrong with considering if additional consideration is appropriate. A closure during February through May in the salt is worth considering. I think that might be doubly valuable in South Sound and Hood Canal where the fish spawn in small streams and seem to have a tendency to drop back to the salt fairly quickly. That contrasts with what we see here in north Sound where the fish do seem to hold in freshwater some before heading back to the salt.

SF -
As I recall the reason all the salt was closed to retention was because while the fish are in the salt there is uncertainty as to there natal stream of origin and what the status of that population might be. While once the fish return to freshwater (especially those larger rivers up north) management decisions can be made for a specific river stock. That does not mean I support the harvest of those fish but rather providing a bit of history on the origin of the regulations.

I do encourage you and others that interested in more conservative management of the trout species complex in freshwater to stay engaged in the regulation process. While doing so can extreme frustrating if we can keep hammering on the door progress can be made. Even a small group of folks can make a difference; just the most recent example is on the Stillaguamish where since the mid-1990s the summer regulation has been selective gear rules and CnR of all game fish species except fin clipped steelhead. As part of the pamphlet simplification that was scheduled to go away but the efforts of few that stayed engaged were able to keep the old regulation.

Curt
 

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