Are We Killing Searun Cutthroat?

Furled

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
Are older fish ending up in tribal nets? I heard smaller fish can wiggle through but once cutthroat grow to a certain size they become bycatch.
 

jasmillo

WFF Premium
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

Yeah, I agree with you 100% on that unless the science says definitively that it’s needed which I don’t think is the case. I’ve also been catching some very nice fish in the south sound, and in fact, the fishing seems better overall in the places I target them than it was 5 years ago. That said, I do hope SRC get more attention from researchers just because a lot of the picture seems to remain unpainted. What I found interesting about the paper on the CCC was that although there was no conclusion that the research done showed fish were in trouble it mentioned the research could be used to support more conservative angling regulations. Why? It seemed to be because they found fish were using the same areas over time which made them more easily targetable. Ok, but unless evidence suggest angling is having a big negative impact, why limit seasons. Especially considering the fact they say the biggest concern area was near shore habitat alteration (which may or may not be having an impact - more research needed). Would the conclusion not be the paper could be used to support habitat restoration or more conservative regulations around altering marine habitat? Also as you and others have pointed out, what about bycatch from commercial/tribal fishing? Seems like calling out recreational angling is the easy thing to do. Less noise from us, certainly less litigation and cost to enact change versus going after developers and commercial/tribal fisherman. Seems like a feel good versus impactful solution to me but what do I know. I just like to catch SRC, I’m certainly not an expert of any kind on them.
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Premium
Does anyone besides me fishing South Sound notice hookups when seals are cruising by a ways out? Just a thought... do (older) SS fish spend more time in the salt? And are they more prone to (un?)natural predation by (protected) seals than North Sound fish?
 
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Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Does anyone besides me fishing South Sound notice hookups when seals are cruising by a ways out? Just a thought... do (older) SS fish spend more time in the salt? And are they more prone to (un?)natural predation by (protected) seals?

Sound sound cutts are late entry fish and spend the majority of their adult lives in the salt.

I’ve caught a number of cutts with wounds, but most look like injuries from birds to me rather then pinnipeds. I’m not saying seals don’t eat cutts. I’ve seen a fair share of otters as well. Just my observations.
SF
 
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Tubbster85

Active Member
Does anyone besides me fishing South Sound notice hookups when seals are cruising by a ways out? Just a thought... do (older) SS fish spend more time in the salt? And are they more prone to (un?)natural predation by (protected) seals than North Sound fish?
If there is a seal in the area (meaning within 30yds or so) I’ve never had a hookup, but if there are sealions in the area, I step back a little having been charged by one in shin deep water.
 

chris stiemert

WFF Premium
If there is a seal in the area (meaning within 30yds or so) I’ve never had a hookup, but if there are sealions in the area, I step back a little having been charged by one in shin deep water.
I’m with you on that! Have only had 2 sketchy moments in the sound. 1- a meth head. 2- a sea lion.
 

DimeBrite

5X Celebrity Jeopardy Champion
There are plenty of nice SRC in the south sound and canal. They spawn in small streams that can quickly get worked over by otters and other predators, so populations and age classes will fluctuate from year to year. If anglers use smaller narrow gauge hooks they are fine.
 

sroffe

Active Member
Interesting thread.

I recall one day I caught a nice little cutthroat, and when I got it up to the boat, it behaved in a way I've don't recall a fish behaving, it went psycho on me. As soon as I released it, I discover why it it was acting bat crazy, two seals surface about 20 feet from me. I kind of wondered if it became seal food that day.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
The only anglers I’ve ever encountered who think that C&R is detrimental are the ones that fish with bigass baited, barbed hooks and never learned how to be reasonably gentle with a fish while unhooking.

Fishing smaller barbless artificial lures and not being a chimp pretty much guarantee an easy release.
 

fishy

Active Member
I caught the same old scarred up SRC three times in a period of several weeks in 2018.... all three hookups were within 10 yards of one another. The third time I netted it, I swear its eye rolled up to stare me down, as if to say like you again! C&R if properly implemented in IMHO has low impact, and certainly far less than catch and bonk.
 

Timson

Active Member
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
sun blocker or mosquito repellent on your hands don't help either. It was pointed out me a few years ago by a person walking the beach. It raises blisters on their skin, seriously. You could place your fingers on the blisters , perfect match.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
sun blocker or mosquito repellent on your hands don't help either. It was pointed out me a few years ago by a person walking the beach. It raises blisters on their skin, seriously. You could place your fingers on the blisters , perfect match.

At the time of the year I like to fish saltwater cutts, sun block isn’t an issue as there is rarely any sun. ;)
I’ll generally have polypropylene glove liners covered with nitrile gloves.
Good point though on the sunscreen.
SF
 

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