Trip Report - SRC first season

adamcu280

Active Member
Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm a marine biologist that moonlights as a professional skier in the winter. I've been in Washington for over two decades (came up to study killer whales when I was fresh out of high school and never left) but for some reason haven't dedicated much time to saltwater fishing here. Kind of funny since saltwater fishing was basically all I did from 10-16. I live in the foothills of the Cascades and fish lakes and creeks all the time but in the past 15 years, most of my saltwater fishing's happened "on the clock" as part of whale research trips. We're often cruising offshore at 10kts looking for whales, and just happen to be dragging a lure or two behind us, and just happen to every so often hook tuna, wahoo, mahi, blue marlin... Not that I'm complaining!

Anyways, this year all of my far flung research projects got cancelled so, starting mid-summer, I picked up some work on the Kitsap Peninsula. I decided I'd look more closely at these SRC that I've heard and read so much about.

Here's the story of my first few months chasing sea run cutthroat.

Part One - A New Hope
During July and August I'd get off work in the early afternoon so there was plenty of time to check out different places. I'd often meet up with some friends and usually end up watching them catch fish while I caught the bottom, or myself, or something other than a SRC. Catching shiner perch brought back memories of catching and selling those for striper and halibut bait as a kid. Bullheads were a dime a dozen, but I outdid myself with this 461mm beast. A quick check of the scientific literature shows that this is about as big as they've ever been recorded so unless anyone else has a better claim, I'm claiming 4x tippet world record. IMG_20200728_060649_217.jpg

I caught all sorts of other random stuff in my quest, including this rockfish...
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and another blast from my past, a starry flounder
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Those first couple months did see me land a few SRC but they were few and far between.

Chapter Two - Better luck next time

After taking September off I came back to the peninsula and started the quest again, this time focusing on some different beaches. Through work, I obtained access to some private access points and, weather and daylight permitting, I'd fish during my lunch break and afternoons after clocking off. I also brought my little NuCanoe to further extend my range.

At first I was a bit ADD. 8wt for coho (I saw many but only managed to hook and land one) and 5wts with floating and intermediate lines. Sunset session from the boat.
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An exploratory mission where I was skunked on fish but slammed the scenery.
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Sometimes I'd fish from the boat, but most of the time I'd find a spot to wade. Over the course of repeated visits to the same beaches at varying times and tides I started getting the hang of a few of the spots. Or maybe it was just dumb luck. These two were from the same day but different beaches a couple miles apart.
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Here's a lunch break success story. GOPR0364_1605298669144.JPG

Got this one the other day in the storm
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And here's my best to date - an 18" specimen! This one had my heart pumping! GOPR0360_1602726350211.JPG

Chapter Three - To be continued
The weather's turning, my time on the job is winding down, and soon I'll be back in the mountains. I've probably been out 30 times in the past couple of months, with plenty of skunkings but also plenty of success. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to chase after these mythical fish again but I'm looking forward to whenever that will be!

Big thanks to Bret and Elijah, The Confluence in Bellingham, Peninsula Outfitters in Poulsbo, Nick Clayton and others from this forum for the all the advice and fly tying videos. Speaking of tying, at first I went a bit nuts trying to tie everything under the sun but eventually figured that I basically only need two patterns in a small assortment of colors. Woolly Buggers in olive, olive/red, and white/pink were my best producers but somedays the pink/chartreuse Clousers (especially tied in marabou vs. bucktail) were unbeatable. Poppers are fun but I prefer catching fish to seeing fish.
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Until next time! GX010363_1602735430273.jpg
 
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SquatchinSince86

Active Member
This is what it's all about. Anyone who asks about how or where to find SRC should be immediately directed to this post.

Thanks

Don't give up during the colder months, some of the best action is still to come. Or wait... I never said that. I'll stand by my previous posts. Searuns go dormant in the winter. Best to pursue other activities.
 

adamcu280

Active Member
This is what it's all about. Anyone who asks about how or where to find SRC should be immediately directed to this post.

Thanks

Don't give up during the colder months, some of the best action is still to come. Or wait... I never said that. I'll stand by my previous posts. Searuns go dormant in the winter. Best to pursue other activities.
I'm not going to give up completely! I just won't have SRC access minutes from my door or literally at my feet while I'm at work.

It'll be tough to drive hours to get to prime SRC habitat when I have a different kind of prime habitat right in my backyard. Catch fish = Catch air, although I'm not sure how many backflips I'll be doing this year.
IMG_20171108_061149_465.jpg
 

adamcu280

Active Member
Here are some lessons learned for my fellow newbies in no particular order:
  1. Go fishing a lot. You won't catch fish if you're not fishing. Many of my after work sessions weren't much longer than 10 minutes before it got too dark but I'd still catch fish.
  2. You don't need to wade up to your waist and cast a mile out. I found myself wading shallower and shallower as I caught more fish. Many of the fish I caught were on casts that were parallel to or even towards the beach, not perpendicular out from the beach.
  3. Vary your retrieve. Some days they like it fast, some days they like it slow.
  4. This one was straight from Bob Triggs as he watched me miss strikes on a popper: "You know the fish are there! If you don't catch a fish after three casts, change your fly!" I figure my subsurface flies fall into three different classes (olive/dark sculpin-y colored things, chartreuse/pink things, or silvery baitfish-y things) and color class is more important than pattern - if they're not biting an olive Woolly bugger I'm not going to throw an olive Clouser at them next. I give each pattern way more than three casts but if I don't catch something on a sculpin tone, I'll switch to something colorful or flashy next.
  5. Try to strip set vs. trout set. I'm trying super hard to break decades of trout setting muscle memory. Nick had a recent comment "just keep stripping" which I'm also trying to manifest into reality.
  6. Take notes on where/when(tides)/what pattern you're catching fish. It may mean something in the end. Or not.
 

Chickenhawk

New Member
Great post adam. I know where your talking about. I really enjoyed the few times i fished over there with bret and elijah. Great guys. By far the most beautiful beach to fish. Where i met those guys. 2.5 hrs from where i live but extremely fun to fish
 

adamcu280

Active Member
Great post adam. I know where your talking about. I really enjoyed the few times i fished over there with bret and elijah. Great guys. By far the most beautiful beach to fish. Where i met those guys. 2.5 hrs from where i live but extremely fun to fish
It's a great beach for sure! I've had better and more consistent SRC luck elsewhere but it's still a go to spot! It's where I got my best coho and also where I picked up my world record bullhead.
 

Pipeman

New Member
Great post, Adam! As a fellow SRC newbie I'm fascinated by any new information that I can get. I'm up in Whatcom county, so I have quick access to the salt, but my experience and the advise from others is that there are very few up here. Best bet is to head south, so I'm starting to explore other beaches.
 

adamcu280

Active Member
What a great afternoon! Caught seven SRC, which beats my previous daily record of six (although that day of six also had a bonus blackmouth so maybe it's a tie). The last one turned out to be my personal best. At 18" it was the same length as my previous record but this one was significantly chunkier. I almost had to put it on the reel! Got all of them on a 2" pink and silver thing that I tied this morning.

PXL_20201122_233527733.MP-01.jpeg
 

Jake

Active Member
What a great afternoon! Caught seven SRC, which beats my previous daily record of six (although that day of six also had a bonus blackmouth so maybe it's a tie). The last one turned out to be my personal best. At 18" it was the same length as my previous record but this one was significantly chunkier. I almost had to put it on the reel! Got all of them on a 2" pink and silver thing that I tied this morning.

View attachment 261804
A large sea run on a fly you tied? Awesome!
 

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