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Good sea-run cutthroat fishing plus a few resident coho

2509 Views 18 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Roger Stephens
I went fishing for sea-run cutthroat on Monday for 4 hours during a nice ebb tide and was rewarded with a great fishing experience. There was no wind with a nice cloud. These conditions provided an enjoyeable mood to boat and fly fish on Puget Sound.

The day started out with a few resident coho(approx. 14-15" first photo) at a good sea-run cutthroat but surprisingly no sea-run cutthroat were seen or hooked. It was time to checkout a few sea-run cutthroat spots which I had not fished in a couple of months. I hit the "jackpot" at one of the locations as 7 sea-run cutthroat(second photo) were landed there with all of them being "cookie cutter" 14-15" solid fish. It appeared that they had already spawned and had been in saltwater for awhile. A few more sea-run cutthroat were landed at some other locations with the largest being a skinny 18" fish that appeared to have just spawned. I didn't take a picture of the fish since I didn't want to stress it further and called it a "day" after landing that fish.

All day I only saw 2 fish swirl. The resident coho and sea-run cutthroat were just "there" at some locations. As such it is always worth a few casts at prime fishing locations even though no fish are seen. All fish were landed on a sequin tube clouser minnow(olive/white) pattern.

All days fly fishing on Puget Sound are enjoyeable and interesting since every day brings a different experience. Yesterday was no different as there was a large area that was being actively "worked" by hundreds of sea gulls and 80-90 seals(last photo). The sea gulls were circling/milling around and swopping down to grab baitfish near the water surface in deeper water(+ 30 ft.). The seals were "herded up" in groups of 20-25 individuals and appeared to be chasing after the baitfish. Throw in into the mix big flocks of diving birds and the occassional bald eagle and it was bedlam in the area for several hours.

Sand lance are now spawning or done spawning along sandy shorelines. After spawning the adult sand lance(+5") head out into deeper water. Thus, I initially thought that the baitfish being chased were sand lance. However, I was able to see a few baitfish in the mouths of the sea gulls. They did not have the slender profile of sand lance. It appeared that the baitfish were herring(5-6").

Fly fishing on Puget Sound is normally great but I cannot get enough of the ever changing natural sights which can be seen on or adjacent to Puget Sound. There are whales, sea lions, bald eagles, red foxes along the shoreline, etc. etc. to be seen every year.

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Looks like a great day on the water, Roger. Thanks for sharing the pics!
Great report, thanks! I think I might call in sick tomorrow.
Excellent report Roger, It's been a while since I had a day like that.
While congratulations are in order for the fish, I think the real achievement here was finding a corner of the Sound today that was wind free! Great pattern btw.
Thanks for the great day report better times must be comeing. liked the seal picture.

Nice day on the water.......spring is just around the corner.

Just curious......what makes you think the cct had all spawned already? Based on the cct stock assesment work we're doing in SS we find that few fish spawn by mid Feb. However, our index areas may not be reprsentative of all cct spawning populations is SS.

We have noticed that spawning is very hard on cct and often results in fungus, tail damage, and weight loss. The accoustic tagging study should shed some light on post spawn mortality but we're still in the analysis stage. I have read that post spawning mortality of inland ct can be very high and, based on the age comp of SS fish (few if any fish older than 5 years), would suspect that it's also high for sea-run ct.

The first redd surveys of the year are taking place later today. I'll try to share some pics.....

Glad to see that some of the resident coho are beginning to show.

Great pics....thanks for sharing. LP
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As usual Roger I enjoy your salt observations and reports, and thanks to you I am now getting the salt itch.
Roger, great report as usual.

I was wondering if you have ever observed seals targeting groups of sea-runs? Last month, I was fishing off a small spawning creek where a group of fish was stacked up, waiting for the creek to rise. I released two cutthroats, and while stripping in my third fish, a seal popped his head up about 100 feet from me, looking really hungry. I released the fish quickly, and decided to stop fishing due to concern that a tired sea-run would be easy pickings for a seal.Anyone ever had the same experience?

As usual, Roger, you are way out ahead of the rest of us. By the time I was on my way home from school, the wind had the Sound whipped up to 3 foot swells from the North; not very good for fishing my neck of the woods. Nice fish and nice photos.
I like to see a couple of seals around. I know there are fish present, besides, I like to talk with them.....
As usual, Roger, you are way out ahead of the rest of us. By the time I was on my way home from school, the wind had the Sound whipped up to 3 foot swells from the North; not very good for fishing my neck of the woods. Nice fish and nice photos.
Same problem here on the Hood Canal Steve....DON'T go fishing the Hood Canal with a "North" wind. Everything muddies up quickly. So, for everyone else, take my advice and go fish somewhere else. Check the wind conditions before heading this way and save yourself a bummer fishing day.

I have seen individual seals appear to be chasing after sea-run cutthroat in shallow water but have never seen a seal actually come up with a sea-run cutthroat in it's mouth. The sea-run cutthroat are usually small enough that a seal could probably just swallow the fish while the seal was underwater. I cannot remember a seal ever chasing after a sea-run cutthroat wihich I had hooked. But I have had plenty of seals stick their heads up and eye me when a fish is being played. It makes for some nervous times as you try to strip the fish in rapidly.

Seals and coho are another case. I have had seals get pretty bold about chasing after hooked coho. A few years ago there were one or two seals at a particular location that got pretty wise. They would come after hooked coho right up to the side of the boat. If they saw a boat, they would move towards it and wait. It got so bad that it was not possible to fish the area.

The north wind usually indicates good weather but it sure plays hell with the fishing. I always stick my toe out the door before I take off. I usually check the weather in the paper every day so I know what might be ahead. I am a fair weather fisher for sure and the boat stays in the garage if the forecast looks murky.
A good number of years ago I introduced a buddy of mine to Hood Canal silvers and I had him pick up a clear intermediate line for the trip. There were plenty of willing silvers, at one point he hooked into one that got a sudden burst of energy and took him into the backing as we looked in amazement off in a distance a seal had his fish in his mouth my partner ended up loosing his new fly line.

Last summer we were fishing cutts off a popular salmon fishing area and a seal took a swipe at the cutt just as we were sliding it into the net we stopped fishing for awhile and he finally left.
Judging from the one pic you posted Roger I agree with your assessment that the fish have spawned I fish that beach or near there and just before christmas the fish were in there thick waiting for the creek to rise, lots of action then it rained pretty hard and for awhile the fish were pretty much gone at least the larger ones, on thursday I went out by there caught 5 all larger fish but much thinner than they had been plus they had no sealice, I caught 4 on a version of HCL's orange crush and after awhile it seems liike they wised up to that so I put on a small olive and white clouser and caught my 5th fish, then they seemed to move out farther than I can cast or were just tired of my shit so I left, excellent couple of hours spent on the beach, there also was a harbor seal that poked its head up right as I caught the first fish it was a couple of hundred feet out and even though it was very interested it never came in close, this last summer though when fishing for pinks there were some seals that were very good at grabbing the hooked salmon over a week I had 2 taken and a buddy lost one to the little buggers.
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Great Report. We are out on Wednesday, fighting the wind on the in-tide. The sun was out and we enjoyed the day...but only one stirke. Will try again in a day or two.
Olive and white baitfish patterns seem to be drawing the strikes recently. I got a chance to get out and fish the incoming tide right before sunset. I had turns on chartreuse, but two cutts as soon as I switched to olive and white. I was using a sink tip line and mini-ceivers. It was a good night after a few slow months.
Toddr and Tony :thumb:

Agree that olive over white is a great color combination for clouser minnows and other baitfish patterns. Chartruse over white can be good too. Having confidence in your fly pattern/color combination can be a big part of having success with it.

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