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sea run cutt questions

3366 Views 20 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Preston
I know there are some very avid and knowledgable src fishermen on this site. Most of you seem to be down in S. Sound. What about N. Sound, B'ham area etc.? Any big src fans in this area?

I have questions on their habits like when do they head upstream to spawn?

When they are in the rivers do you folks catch them on drys or wet flies?

It also seems to me like they should be catch and release in fresh water as well as salt. Anyone know why that is not so or did I read this wrong?

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Cutts are in the river year round. You will find the biggest push late summer, early fall.

Cutts can be caught with both dry and wet flies.

Good question. I don't know why we are allowed to keep cutts in the river.

I love SRCs and salmon fishing in the upper part of Puget Sound. My favorite spots are on the Olympic Peninsula but I still spend lots of time in several North/Central Puget Sound locations(Mukilteo, Whidbey, Kayak Point, Camano). I don't usually start hitting the salt too hard until mid or late July. Should be a good year for the salt since another huge run of pinks is forecast to spice up the SRC action.....can't wait for that to happen.
Kerry and Saltchuck,

Thanks for your replys. Being a lifetime westsider it is hard for me to understand why I have not gone after src's. It sounds like its one of the afficianados preferred piscatorial pursuits.

I was talking to my neighbor here in B'ham and he seems to think the oldtimers really overfished them in the Nooksack. Says they used to be in there in good numbers and size but he does not think that is currently the case.

I will have to make a point of finding out later this summer. Since there is basically no summer steelie run here I will wait until later and target them alone prior to silvers.

Seems like it would be a good thing if they were turned into a catch and release fish everywhere.

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I can not say this with absolute certainty but I do think that one reason they allow some harvest of Cutthroat Trout in the rivers is because some of them have a life history of being "resident", or nearly so, to the river, and even limiting themselves to some parts of the river, ie; upper, lower, certain tributaries, or even lower river and estuary. And only some of the river's Cutthroat Trout would then be considered to be truly "sea-run". But this bothers me that they allow any harvest of them at all since it is likely that any Cutthroat Trout would be recruitable as spawners with the "sea-run" cutts.

I have caught them with the same flies in salt and fresh water though I prefer dry flies in the rivers, I do catch them on drys off the beaches too. Flies like the Humpy, Stimulator, various Gurglers and Wakers, Foam Backs, and a myriad of small baitfish patterns all have been fruitful. Some days they like them dead drifted and other days you can't twitch them enough. My biggest sea run Cutts have all come on big, dark, weighted flies hung low and and slow off a long leader and dry line or a weighted sinker tip. I prefer a dry line. But I would probably catch more fish with a intermediate line, maybe clear. Or a sink tip.

Some of my better days of saltwater fishing for them have been from october through the winter. This year I had some great fish in march. It is a slower game, fewer fish, but they tend to be bigger and a little nastier too.
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I forgot what I was supposed to remember.

I can't help myself. I have to add something to this. You said"When they are in the rivers do you folks catch them on drys or wet flies". Well I'll have to say that we try to catch them on drys and I/we've that have fished for them use mostly Royal Wulff's(dry) and or yellow spiders(wet).There's something about yellow that they(fish)like.

And as for keeping fish caught. I would only keep a steelhead if one was caught by me but only if it was a hatchery. I notice that a few of you like to keep EB,well that is fine by me. The state F&G says you can keep them. But they only seem to be in the upper reaches of streams. I'll shut up know as you all don't want to listen to all my babbling.

its stupid how srcs fall into the 5 trout a day limit in freshwater, see it all the time on a lake here in port orchard, pictures at the store of big src's caught on power bait and pop gear and put on the stringer, last thursday my buddy who I go bass fishing with had his livewell full of huge dead src's about 7 or 8 of them all huge, he was claiming they swallowed his crappie jig but he just wanted reconition for it in his sad little ways. it pissed me off so bad.

saltwater flyfishing in the northwest is a science as well as an art
I've been catching searuns and silvers off our Puget Sound beaches for the past eight years, at all times of the year, with a surface popper. I've found that when I am flycasting from the beach, any fish I can reach with a flyline is not resting, but actively feeding and searching for food. My Miyawaki Beach Popper (it will be in Les Johnson's new book) represents a crippled or wounded baitfish and, as such, are easy prey for predatory salmonids and the occassional Starry Flounder. And I will say this, risking another floating vs. sinking debate – fishing a surface popper for searuns and salmon is far more pleasurable and definitely, much more exciting than fishing the "darkside."

FYI, the popper recipe is in the archives of both waflyfishers.com and pugetsoundflyfishing.com


Your post should make most of us mad who hate to see a resource like src's handled this way. Like I have said I am just beginning to learn about this fishery but it sure seems ludicrous to have any take home fishery of src's.

How do we go about pressuring for a change in regs.?

Sound like another issue for those of us who are writting in to WWW.WA.gov/gov/fish/regs/2004prop.htm to make our request for rule changes. Remember everyone they must be in by July 18th. Those who do not write in have no place to be complaining about the fishing regs. See Ceviche post of Jun-23 on this web forum for the debated subjects others from this site are writting in to recomend.
I was introduced to the wonderful sport of floatfishing the main Nooksack River (from Lynden downstream) in the autumns, by the late Dick Van Demark. Mid-September into early November was the height of the season. The best flies were summer steelhead patterns, slightly scaled down to No. 8's. Slow water, backchannels and slough mouths were the most productive. The "harvest trout" seemed to be in pods; when one was caught, we kept fishing there until no more were caught. We caught and released beautiful fish to 19 inches or so.
That was in the 1970's. In those days, searun devotees hoped to catch one four-pounder in a lifetime.
Most sea-run cutthroat caught in freshwater are caught in rivers, where the take is limited to two fish over fourteen inches. I don't know of too many lakes that have runs of sea-run cutthroat going through them.
I've been fishing for coastal cutthroat for more than fifty years and have caught them throughout Puget Sound, Hood Canal, the Columbia River, north to Southeast Alaska and south to the Eel River in California. Coastal cutthroat along the Pacific are found in upper watershed creeks, lakes and rivers. In rivers that are open to the marine environment most of the coastal cutthroat are anadromous or "sea-run". They are all coastal cutthroat however.
We fought to make the cutthroat "catch-and-release" in all Washington marine waters in 1997. This was to protect weaker stocks when they mix in the marine environment.
I have an all new comprehensive book on coastal cutthroat due out in the fall. After 28 years my first book has gone out of print. You can, however still borrow it from the public library and most fishing club libraries. It is an easy read that should clear up most of the questions here.

Les Johnson
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I have a bone or two to pick w/ wadfw, so I'm interested in providing some input- the above link doesn't work though.
Looking forward to your new book. I really lucked out
last November when I purchased what turned out to be the last copy the shop I go to had. It is very informative, and I really like the color plates of cutthroat patterns.
I live between Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay, and just started fly fishing last fall and learning about these little dynamos. No kidding, your book was an inspiration!
I had only fished for them in the late 50's and the 60's as a kid with colorado spinners and worms, mainly around Sequim. And in recent years as incidental (released) catch while bait/gear fishing for steelhead.
I kept one 16" out of the xxxx River last fall(where its legal to do so), but after reading about them in your book(and other authors, as well as posts by members of this site), my awareness was raised and I haven't kept one since.
It may be early, but I hope to head up the zzzz River for a looksee this afternoon, after finishing up some critical work I can't weasle my way out of. I've had good luck with a Knudsen Spider with a red tail and the Hari Kari locally.
Thanks for the writings! You can rack up one future sale of your new book right here...can hardly wait!:thumb

(river names x-d out to reduce potential increase in fishing pressure).

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here on the kitsap penninsula there are no big rivers just small creeks where alot of srcs spawn, every creek with a lake attached with a inlet creek has them I can name a bunch if I wanted to. and in lakes there is a five fish a day limit, go to long lake store if you ever drive off the fauntleroy ferry and take a look at all the trout photos in the store it will make you cringe.

I think that a src release in freshwater lakes around would be way to confusing and alot of crackers troll pop gear and they would never release them anyway. but it would be a good idea to do something on a few lakes where they are abundant, wdf dont stock lakes with a healthy population of cutthroat to much I noticed, maybe a few hundred in late summer.

saltwater flyfishing in the northwest is a science as well as an art
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I forgot what I was supposed to remember.

Well Lake Cavanaugh up in Skagit Co. Used to have a store on the East end and it used to have lots of pictures of all the Cutthroat that have been caught out of that lake. Store is gone now. They could be a strain of the coastal cutts as the lake empties into a stream that empties into Pilchuck Creek Which empties in to the Stilly. I understand that there are a good many cutts in that lake that are quite large.

Was fishing that lake one time and the game dept planted some salmon in it. Two years later they were catching salmon in the Creek,but don't know if the plant ever took hold.

Wow one of the masters has posted here! I have your first book and really enjoyed it! In fact one summer years ago when I was renting a room above the Stanwood Hotel Tavern in Stanwood I was bored and tied all the patterns shown in the colored fly patterns pages! Big project by the time I was finished it was the middle of august and the start of good cutt fishing on the Stilly. Thanks for the book and I'll be looking forward to the new one, just in time for fall fishing.
And the lower Stilly is catch and release for cutts now, has been for a number of years. And it is patrolled regularly too, been checked at least once every year.
searun or Mr. Les Johnson is a modest man. He says he has written only the one book. The title of that book should you be so fortunate as to find it is Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout 1971 updated in 79 as Sea-Run.

The Bellingham Library did not have either one but it did come up with another book he co-authored with Bruce Ferguson and Pat Trotter titled Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon 1985.

This in itself is an amazing book. Just getting into it, but I highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to cut years off their saltwater fly fishing education/experience.

searun and his co-authors discuss the history of flyfishing for salmon, life histories of our salmon species, a dissertation on feed (excellent), finding the fish, techniques, patterns, gear and on and on including ethics.

I can't wait to find his works on sea-run cutts.

Thank you Les for coming on to this forum.

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Les (Mr. Johnson seems more appropriate)- thanks for posting. I think I speak for many when I ask: Please post more often! Looking forward to the new book. As always, looking to your flies & techniques as the standard. Let's get with Leyland and get those beaches open year round...
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