Are We Killing Searun Cutthroat?

mjb

Active Member
I was fishing for SRC at an Area 9 beach yesterday when a local guy came up and started a conversation about catch & release. He claimed that even with careful landing and releasing we stress and weaken the fish, which then release a hormone that attracts predators. In his view MOST of the SRC we release are targeted and eaten soon after by seals and otters. There is no doubt in my mind that he believed this and wanted me to understand that the more fish we catch and release, the more fish we kill. He said he had fisheries work experience and was pretty convincing.

What studies have been done about SRC mortality from C&R?

What do you think?
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Sounds more like an activist that would like to see an end to the harvest moratorium and eat some salty searuns.

Total bullshit that most die. Some yes, most no way.
There are things you can do to reduce mortality like knotless or rubber nets, don’t handle them with wool gloves etc.
SF
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Premium
Studies available on the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition website shows that specific fish are caught off the same beach multiple times, weeks & months apart.

Now what does concern me is a CCC presentation in 2019 of early data on abundance as measured by a "combination of Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags, Floy Tags, snorkel surveys and redd-based spawner surveys" appears to be much less than I thought it would be for a C&R fishery and the number of fish I catch.

There are things you can do to reduce mortality like knotless or rubber nets, don’t handle them with wool gloves etc.
SF
^^!
 

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
Catch and release mortality has been studied and is a part of determining allowed impacts or take in our recreational salmon fisheries. If it was a serious limiting factor we wouldn't be fishing at all. It does play some role, though, which is why some fisheries are closed to salmon fishing due to incidental or targeted catch and release, which counts for total "take" allowed by the state and co-managers. I've seen numbers range from 1-10%, I'm sure someone here has the actual link to the study/studies?

Long story short, properly handle fish and they'll likely survive. What the guy told you sounds like a load of BS.
 

Smalma

Active Member
There clearly something going on with the South Sound cutthroat where the older fish in the population have disappeared. I would refer folks to the CCC size and the James Losse et al size, age and growth paper that is available on that site.

Extensive sample of those south Sound cutthroat found that 52% of the fish sampled were ending the salt for the first time, 43% of the fish for the second time and 5% a third time. With an average smolt age of 2 that means only 5% of the fish survived to spawn as age 5 with virtually no older fish. This is a much different age structure than seen on the North Sound Rivers where similar size population sampling would have fish to age 8 or 9.

While the South Sound fish typically are larger (longer) at given compared to the North Sound fish they don't live nearly as long. I recall brood stock collections of sea-runs in south Sound during the 1980s had populations containing older fish (similar to that see in the North Sound). It is important that as concern anglers are willing to ask the question of what happened to those older fish in South Sound?

Curt
 

wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
Catch and release is much less stressful on fish than catch and bonk.
My understanding is SRC populations in the Sound have rebounded nicely since the 1998 implementation of catch and release only in all marine waters of Washington state.
 

jasmillo

WFF Premium
I think it’s ok to ask the question. If there is a change in population dynamics that is not positive, we should try and understand. I’d love to read that paper smalma, I’ll have to find it.

With literally no research to back up this thought, I have to wonder if fly fisherman in the sound have a significant impact on SRC though. Just because of the limited reach most beach fisherman have (which I assume make up a very large portion of folks targeting them). There are limited public beaches across the sound where SRC are targeted which makes me wonder if anglers are having an impact, does it happen when fish are concentrated in rivers spawning or spread out in the salt. Just a question, maybe a dumb one with an obvious answer. I should know more since I fish for them so much.

One thing I do know is I have definitely caught the same fish over months from multiple beaches. Small sample size and this could be driven as much by the characteristics of those beaches than proof catch and release works all the time. Who knows.

As long as policy is driven by science and not activism, I would support changes to the fishery to add more protections including limiting my seasons if it was found we were having a significant impact. I’d feel really bad if SRC went the way of our wild steelhead and salmon populations and I played in role in that.

That said, I would not stop just because some random dude tried to guilt trip me on the beach!
 

Jake

veni, vidi, fishi
I think some do die, as in any other c&r situation, but I think nets have a bigger impact than anglers do. Many of the big ones I have caught have net marks on them.

And, of course, neither of those can touch the havoc wreaked by riparian habitat disruption, loss, and pollution (bridge runoff being a major issue. I have the study around here somewhere about bridges and fishkill…), etc.
 
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jasmillo

WFF Premium
Jasmillo -


Part of the completed projects

Curt

Thanks Curt. I found and read it. Interesting. Would love to see similar studies on other beaches over a longer period of time/ where fish from more watersheds are represented. I also find it fascinating we still are unsure if human driven change if near shore habitat is having a big negative impact on SRC…. at least as of the writing of that paper. Seems like a lot of opportunity from a research perspective on these fish. Hope they get the attention…..and if warranted the protections they deserve….and not just from recreational angling.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
I think it’s ok to ask the question. If there is a change in population dynamics that is not positive, we should try and understand. I’d love to read that paper smalma, I’ll have to find it.

With literally no research to back up this thought, I have to wonder if fly fisherman in the sound have a significant impact on SRC though. Just because of the limited reach most beach fisherman have (which I assume make up a very large portion of folks targeting them). There are limited public beaches across the sound where SRC are targeted which makes me wonder if anglers are having an impact, does it happen when fish are concentrated in rivers spawning or spread out in the salt. Just a question, maybe a dumb one with an obvious answer. I should know more since I fish for them so much.

One thing I do know is I have definitely caught the same fish over months from multiple beaches. Small sample size and this could be driven as much by the characteristics of those beaches than proof catch and release works all the time. Who knows.

As long as policy is driven by science and not activism, I would support changes to the fishery to add more protections including limiting my seasons if it was found we were having a significant impact. I’d feel really bad if SRC went the way of our wild steelhead and salmon populations and I played in role in that.

That said, I would not stop just because some random dude tried to guilt trip me on the beach!

I personally would not like to see the year round gamefish seasons go away in Puget Sound.
Once they are gone, good luck getting it back. Much easier to close fisheries then to get them opened again. History proves this.
Myself personally, I really only target searuns for maybe three months out of the year. It would only be two months if MA 9 was open for coho in October. Did I mention how easy it is to close seasons????
The rest of the year the limited amount of searuns I do encounter are bycatch from coho fishing.
I’m still encountering a good number of large searuns in the south sound where I like to fish.
With most fisheries, it seems cyclical with some years being considerably better then others. Last year was great for bigger fish. I look forward to what late fall offers this year.
I do agree with Jake that some of the biggest specimens end up being taken in net fisheries.
SF
 
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