SRC Fishing Slowing Down


Active Member
mortality studies are all flawed. there is simply ZERO methodology available to see if that released fish actually survives in a natural setting, can't happen, no way.

you can do the following, however:
- never handle the fish, period
- use a release tool such as the 'ketumrelease', not a net, of any kind.
- use equipment heavy enough to get the fish to hand quickly. fish also build lactic acid
- if the fight takes too long break off!

what really bothers me is the notion that '...why i can catch any fish that swims on my 5wt...' so? gear up for a quick fight, learn to use your rod correctly, and do you part of try and get that fish a chance of surviving 'our fun.'
This has been a good thread. I would have flown an trial balloon for a complete closure through the winter but was concerned that I would really stir the pot with such radical thinking. Fin-clipped, pen-reared coho are released into Puget Sound to be caught --and eaten -- if one chooses, regardless of size. I am in agreement with Curt that protecting them until they grow larger is an excellent idea.
It appears that most folks believe that sensible fly-fishing is the answer even if they have differing opinions on the details. That is a heart-warming ethic.

Good Fishing,
Les Johnson


Active Member
gt- i don't see the point of your statement about mortality studies. All studies have inherent biases and assumptions. While it is impossible to control every variable that might affect a fish in a "natural" environment, you can control many and get a good idea what the prevalence of mortality might look like in a natural environment. No ecological study "proves" anything, but it can "suggest" things with considerable accuracy.


Active Member
i would be more than interested to read any literature you may point me to regarding just how released fish mortality is measured.

my point is simply that with the wide range of uncontrolled variables involved with fish release in a natural environment, it is simply impossible to assign a survival value. but, if you can point to any study that contradicts my statement, i'd be happy to eat crow :)


Active Member
well studies have approached this in two ways....both imperfect but both providing ways to approximate mortality that are pretty good. The type of study Smalma mentioned above generally involves catching fish and then releasing them into captivity (sans predators) to observe direct mortality from the wounds of fishing. While this gives a definate and accurate survival rate, it does not account for decreased survival due to predation and competition.

The second type of study is retrospective and looks at how big a run was, how many fish were caught and released, and how big the run is later (after these fish presumably die). Here is a citation for one such study.

Zhou, Shijie. A pipeline model for estimating fishing mortality in salmon mark-selective fisheries. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 24 (3) : 979-989 August 2004

Both this study and the one Smalma linked explain their methods for measuring mortality.

I'm not trying to make you eat crow at all.....I just think its a little extreme to say that studies can't begin to examine c&r mortality...yeah, they aren't perfect, but they aren't so bad either.


Active Member
appreciate the model descriptions. as with all things in nature which end up interacting with you and me, we have no way of determining a confidence interval for results from studies such as these.

we have no information regarding the method of angling; time the fish may have been out of the water for a photo; degree of body slim removed during handling/neting; apparent concern by the angler for the fishes well being.......

any information coming from these sorts of attempts, while interesting, should be kept at arms length when discussing 'real' mortality. we simply don't know nor will we ever be able to determine what happened to that fish we released.

that is why i suggested we all practice the utmost care when we fish and modifiy our tactics to help with this mortality issue. that said, i still could not claim that the last steelhead i released after a quick fight, no blood, no touching, lip hooked, survived. we will just never know.
I had an interesting and sad experience happen to me quite a few years back.

While shore fishing an estuary in the South Sound I felt something alive bump into my calf. Startled, I looked down to see it was a good sized fish-- a gorgeous coho salmon in prime condition. She was just sort of floundering around, what was wrong with her? I tried my best to revive the fish, but after a protracted effort had to give up as it slowly died. I inspected the fish carefully for injuries, and only found one-- a very small hook prick in the very corner of her mouth-- exactly what you would think would be the most benign place. I elected to take the fish home, and when I opened it up there was not one drop of blood in her body.

It clearly doesn't take much to kill a fish. 10% mortality may seem high to some people, but nobody really knows what happens after a fish disappears back into the water. My guess is that if you see any quantity of blood flowing out of a fish it is going to probably die.

People should show restraint, and not brag about catching dozens of fish in a day. No one cares anyway. Catch a modest number then do something else. Grab your coffee thermos or your camera or your binoculars. Try another method.

There is some great perspective in Bob Arnold's book "Steelhead Water" where he talks about his regret of keeping his first 20 pound steelhead to show off to his friends. To paraphrase, he talks about all killing being serious or "wrong", but the killing we do for food to be "less wrong". Give it a read if you see it. Catch and release has its place, but it is not close to a panacea, and restraint must accompany it. Lets limit our kill.


Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

I would fully support an annual/seasonal (winter) closure on Sea-Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout in the saltwater.

I would also like to see more protections for them in freshwater, as I think it is ludicrous to have a harvest moratorium on saltwater Cutthroat runs and then to allow people to target them, (for harvest), in the rivers, where they may be at a more vulnerable point in life.
One of things I really like about fishing the salt in the winter is it gives me an option when my favorite rivers are not fishing as well (or the pass is unpassable). Plus it is a great change of pace. I was wondering why we should lay off fishing for Sea Runs now vs. some other time of the year?


Native Trout Hunter
I really see no reason to stop fishing for cutts in the winter. It is like telling people not to fish for steelhead in the winter or salmon in the fall. They seem to be quite plentiful and as long as they are handled properly there is little damage being done (ie small hooks and minimum handling). Also even when not targeting cutts and going after resident coho you are bound to run into a few cutts here and there, and some times a lot more cutts than the coho.
Folks are just airing ideas and personal thoughts here. Backing off our fishing pressure just a bit might do a great deal of good for the cutthroat. I've never said we should not fish for them. I would favor a couple of months of sanctuary for them though and when an area is closed to salmon, it might be worth investigating a closure on cutthroat during the same period. However, if we can develop a measure of self control and limit our fishing, even catch-and-release, we may be able to keep fishing with no additional mortality on cutthroat, or salmon for that matter. I've been fishing for cutthroat for sixty years and plan to continue until I pass on into that great gravelly beach in the sky.

I guess I feel that it is up to us to save the cutthroat for this and future generations. That is one reason I've written so much about my favorite trout. By getting the spotlight on it there is a tendency not only to want to catch it, but to defend it. The cutthroat needs both. Threads like this one will help.

How does everyone feel about assigning a cutthroat stamp that must be purchased with your annual license? The revenue could be divvied up between the states and BC for studies, habitat restoration and enforcement. For non-residents it could be fairly pricey as far as I'm concerned.
Good Fishing,
Les Johnson
SRC are one of the most enigmatic andronomous fish in existence. I would gladly pay to play in a heart beat, especially if the cost for an out of state stamp was high.

Equally important, I would like to see at least a temporary moratorium on harvest of freshwater coastal cutthroats. More, and larger, spawners would mean an incredible rebound for the species, to help offset the permanent loss of habit widespread throughout the Puget Sound.