2020 SRC Season Review

Smalma

Active Member
These recent storms have likely ended my north sound river sea-run fishing for another season.

Here is my take on the 2020 season on the two north sound systems that I fished. From mid-August to this past Friday I managed to hit the water 13 times averaging about 4 hours of effort on each trip. All the fishing trips were walk-ins evenly split between the two basins (6 on one and 7 on the other). Unlikely the last several seasons this year there were good numbers of what I consider to be first time returning fish. Approximately 75% of my catch this season were those fish (normal portion might be 50%). The abundance of those first timers bodes well for next year! My feeling was that the over-all numbers were on par with the norm for the last 35 years; at least my CPUE (catch/hour) was all most exactly my long term average. While the numbers of mid-size fish were down (reflecting the recent weak year-class?) about 3% of my cutthroat were better than 18 inches with one monster that was just short of 21 inches. I caught few resident rainbows (about 2% of my catch) and a few coho.

In those 13 trips I fished about 3 dozens pieces of water that had consistently produced cutthroat for me for decades. Only just over half of those spots produced at least one cutthroat and I found no new consistent holding spots. A shocking loss of holding water reflecting major habitat changes the continue in both basins. The massive sediment movement in both basin are causing channel simplification (fewer side channels, shallower runs, and lack of in channel structure). Those spots that held fish tended to hold more fish but there were lots of blank water between those spots. Don't think these changes bode well for our future fishing.

Just one angler's observations.

Curt
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Well I made it out twice this year. First time I could barely stand up from the long drive to get there. The second time out I tripped over a root that was sticking out of the ground. I knew it was there but somehow I still tripped over it. That same root got me a few years ago. I've turned into a klutz lately. Oh, and the fishing sucked. I caught one fish last year and nothing this year.

Since it turned a little colder here I mothballed my gear for the rest of the year. I guess since I turned 80, 5 years ago I have really slowed down. Looks like I need to get in a float tube or a pontoon boat so I can get back out there. But my area for lakes is pretty slim.

I sure hope next year is better. :(:(:oops:
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Curt,

I absolutely noticed large stretches of blank water between fishable spots over several trips this year. The hikes between likely waters have been significant in some cases, and I frequently find myself looking and looking some more for cover, structure, and proximity to food-bearing current that screams FISH!! It's interesting to hear that you're describing a major loss in traditional side channels, depth in runs, and structure. My best fish this season has so far come from a side channel created by what I think was an artificial log jam (huge vertically-driven piles at the head of an island).

Hopefully those plentiful first-timers have a good winter and come back for a great fall next year.

OMJ,

I hope someone can get you out in a boat for some more and more comfortable days on the water! Getting busted up on the way to and from the river can't be any fun. I'm all for fishing, slow fishing and bad fishing as long as it's still fun.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Looked like a great day for SRC...Struck out again. Pretty much convinced that there are no Sea Runs in my favorite holes yet...I would have picked up at least a small fish in 6 outings. I'm fishing midway up the system, so maybe the weekend rains will bring them up?

I did land this gem of a fish! Thought I had something super special like a bull trout or a sluggish king until it became obvious it was a large-scale stone sucker. Sad thing is this is my biggest fish of 2020
Hey man, a fish is a fish, and that thurr is a nice one! Pretty sure that would be my heftiest fish of 2020 or darn close. Never understood the boo-hooing over suckers.
 

Brad Niemeyer

Old School Member
These recent storms have likely ended my north sound river sea-run fishing for another season.

Here is my take on the 2020 season on the two north sound systems that I fished. From mid-August to this past Friday I managed to hit the water 13 times averaging about 4 hours of effort on each trip. All the fishing trips were walk-ins evenly split between the two basins (6 on one and 7 on the other). Unlikely the last several seasons this year there were good numbers of what I consider to be first time returning fish. Approximately 75% of my catch this season were those fish (normal portion might be 50%). The abundance of those first timers bodes well for next year! My feeling was that the over-all numbers were on par with the norm for the last 35 years; at least my CPUE (catch/hour) was all most exactly my long term average. While the numbers of mid-size fish were down (reflecting the recent weak year-class?) about 3% of my cutthroat were better than 18 inches with one monster that was just short of 21 inches. I caught few resident rainbows (about 2% of my catch) and a few coho.

In those 13 trips I fished about 3 dozens pieces of water that had consistently produced cutthroat for me for decades. Only just over half of those spots produced at least one cutthroat and I found no new consistent holding spots. A shocking loss of holding water reflecting major habitat changes the continue in both basins. The massive sediment movement in both basin are causing channel simplification (fewer side channels, shallower runs, and lack of in channel structure). Those spots that held fish tended to hold more fish but there were lots of blank water between those spots. Don't think these changes bode well for our future fishing.

Just one angler's observations.

Curt
I appreciate your perspective. Year two of very poor SRC fishing in my "S" river. I also notice that the stream structure, which was scarce before is even more so now. My holes are turning into flat runs and there is no wood around....I may keep at it until Halloween. The tributary "T" river is still open and I found one Searun hiding in a riffle there last year.
 

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
I found this year (so far-hopefully we'll get some clear water again sometime) in the saltwater and freshwater, a much smaller number of good mid-size cutthroat have been encountered, with most fish 12" or smaller. 10% of my fish fell between 12-16" and about 5% were 17-19". My large of the year was a lean saltwater 20"er. My most productive fishing for larger fish occurred in late August and early September, when I had some really good days, including a hefty tidewater Westslope. Throughout the season, numbers of fish have been great.... Hopefully this strong class of fish will lead to good things in the future.

The good news is the Coho have been bitey and very aggressive towards flies. They've also been good size. Lots of Jacks in the mix this year.

Also- tons and tons of steelhead smolts around. Hopefully more great news.
I've seen quite a few pinks this year too.

Always fun in the fall.
 

BCO

Active Member
Well I made it out twice this year. First time I could barely stand up from the long drive to get there. The second time out I tripped over a root that was sticking out of the ground. I knew it was there but somehow I still tripped over it. That same root got me a few years ago. I've turned into a klutz lately. Oh, and the fishing sucked. I caught one fish last year and nothing this year.

Since it turned a little colder here I mothballed my gear for the rest of the year. I guess since I turned 80, 5 years ago I have really slowed down. Looks like I need to get in a float tube or a pontoon boat so I can get back out there. But my area for lakes is pretty slim.

I sure hope next year is better. :(:(:oops:
I can commiserate with you Jim. I made to this time in the present season without injury, till last Wednesday when I tripped on some invisible object. Fortunately the rocks broke my fall, but my four piece Loomis became a five. Gonna be shopping for a wading staff and a vest with air bags.
 

Matt B

...
WFF Supporter
I found this year (so far-hopefully we'll get some clear water again sometime) in the saltwater and freshwater, a much smaller number of good mid-size cutthroat have been encountered, with most fish 12" or smaller. 10% of my fish fell between 12-16" and about 5% were 17-19". My large of the year was a lean saltwater 20"er. My most productive fishing for larger fish occurred in late August and early September, when I had some really good days, including a hefty tidewater Westslope. Throughout the season, numbers of fish have been great.... Hopefully this strong class of fish will lead to good things in the future.

The good news is the Coho have been bitey and very aggressive towards flies. They've also been good size. Lots of Jacks in the mix this year.

Also- tons and tons of steelhead smolts around. Hopefully more great news.
I've seen quite a few pinks this year too.

Always fun in the fall.
Tidewater westslope? I have never heard of such a thing.
 

Smalma

Active Member
Over the decades I have been fortunate enough to encounter 3 of those westslope cutthroat in the tidal water sections of the north Sound "S" rivers while chasing sea-runs. Even though those fish were in tidal waters not sure they have been to the salt. All 3 while well within the tidal influence lower rivers all 3 were above what I considered the limit of the salt water wedge. Like the one Ian picture the condition fact of those fish were above that of a typical sea-run coastal cutthroat. Have also caught a few westslopes above tide water sections of all 3 north Sound "S' rivers. In hind sight I wish I had take scale samples; might have provide additional information.

Speaking of never knowing who is gonna make an appearance I on the tidal section of the Skagit I have caught 3 "rainbows" of 15/16 inches. Those fish I did take scale samples and all 3 were at the end of their 3 growth year and appeared to have grown from about 8 inches to their final size that last spring/summer growth period; steelhead half pounders?

One of the aspects of the fall fishing our sea-runs in the rivers that keep looking forward to the next season; you never know what the day's fishing will be or who will make an appearance!

Curt
 

Matt B

...
WFF Supporter
Very cool. You can tell the guys who really get after it when they catch the unicorns. Thanks for sharing.
 

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