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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found the mola mola thread very interesting. After viewing that video on the Sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout face book page I scrolled down the various postings there. Found some of the new findings presented there were very interesting.

For decades we all knew about the differences in river entry and the corresponding time in the salt between the north and south sound fish however the emerging information presented indicates that there are some very basic and at least to me interesting life history differences between the two groups of sea-run cutthroat.

It appears that the many of the fish found in South Sound are faster growing but shorter lived than those found to the north. It is tempting to speculate that both the increased growth rates and mortality rates are linked to the increased time in the salt. Hopefully as more information is developed additional insights into these differences and the population trades between the two will become clearer.

It is also equally interesting that in both the sound and north sound a true 20 inch fish is a pretty rare critter.

The adaptability and diversity of our wild anadromous salmonid resources never cease to amaze me.

Curt
 

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Tidewater Enthusiast
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Do you think those "sea lice" parasites have an adverse effect on them?
Probably symbiotic at best... side note: effect vs affect thread please

It is tempting to speculate that both the increased growth rates and mortality rates are linked to the increased time in the salt.
Please correct me if possible... there is a hypothesis that the actual skin of cutthroat is inherently not compatible with long stretches in saltwater and disease rates are increased many fold when they are exposed too long in saltwater yes? And the fact that they grow faster in saltwater is due to the fact that there is more exposure to various types of food sources as well as sources of specific proteins in this environment yes? That said.... perhaps the perfect locations for large SRC (big ones with long lives) are places where they have direct access to the sea but can also move into lower rivers from time to time to recalibrate and purge the salt and then return with better metabolism to put on the mythical weight.... all this assuming that said lower rivers are not compromised and can support healthy populations of spawning salmon and trout thanks....
 

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LA RAMS are SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!
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I've started making a couple of trips to the south Sound recently looking for big cutthroat. In an effort to be better prepared to document the true size of my bigger cutthroat, I've made a mold of Mike Kinney's right hand. Now I can measure fish length using the thumb-tip-to-tip-of-the-little-finger method.

So far no big fish hooked, but it's still early.
 

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One thing that I think about is that the longer that a cutthroat stays out in saltwater, the longer it is exposed to Osprey and other predators.
Bob, why do you think that osprey are a bigger problem in saltwater? There is so much more depth in the sound and more larger prey in deeper water. In freshwater, they would encounter mammal predators such as river otters while in saltwater, they would face also river otters (but have more room to escape), seals and sea lions.
Steve
 

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CCA, Hatchery Wild Coexist
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just by my observation, the north sound (snohomish) populations of sea runs is down numbers wise and the average size seems to be smaller as well. i hope that the estuary work on the lower snohomish system will be good for the sea runs, but i wont hold my breath. with the area around the mouth of the river so much more shallow now than it was 20-30 years ago that must not be good as well.
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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Bob, why do you think that osprey are a bigger problem in saltwater? There is so much more depth in the sound and more larger prey in deeper water. In freshwater, they would encounter mammal predators such as freshwater otters while in saltwater, they would face freshwater otters (but have more room to escape), seals and sea lions.
Steve
I wasn't comparing saltwater to freshwater. I was merely saying that the longer they stay in the saltwater , the more chance there is to get picked off by an osprey. I watch some nesting pairs of osprey here every year. They take at least one sea-run cutthroat a day, and sometimes more. It's almost impossible to observe them that closely. But the simple math is that these local osprey are each taking hundreds of sea-run cutthroat trout every season. In addition to everything else that is preying on them. My impression is that the Cutthroat trout in the saltwater around my area , north sound, are fairly localized. And the osprey are too. So it doesn't take long for the osprey to tune in on the cutthroat trout habits and locations. The longer the cutthroat frequent those places , the more likely they are to get eaten.
 

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One interesting aspect of cutthroat migratory patterns is Jim Johnston's study (reported in Pat Trotter's Cutthroat; Native Trout of the West) describing the mortality of early- versus late-entry cutthroat smolts kept in saltwater pens in the Sound for a period of six months. During that period 98% of the early-entry fish died, while only 50% of the late-entry fish succumbed.
 

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It appears that the many of the fish found in South Sound are faster growing but shorter lived than those found to the north
What is considered "north sound"? Does that classification include the San Jaun islands and the gulf of Georgia?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Chris -
I would think that the San Juan Islands and the gulf of Georgia would be included in the north Sound. In general one would characterize the north Sound populations to be dominated by "early" entry stocks and the South Sound stocks as being dominated by "late" entry though it would be expect that there would exceptions to those charcterizations.

My comments in the first post was based on comparing the recent data from South Sound (deep sound inlets) with what I have seen for the north Sound "S" rivers.

Curt
 

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Thanks Curt
 

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One interesting aspect of cutthroat migratory patterns is Jim Johnston's study (reported in Pat Trotter's Cutthroat; Native Trout of the West) describing the mortality of early- versus late-entry cutthroat smolts kept in saltwater pens in the Sound for a period of six months. During that period 98% of the early-entry fish died, while only 50% of the late-entry fish succumbed.
Very informative. Doesn't a wild Cutthroat that has spawned in a creek or river stay in freshwater for a considerable time? Therefore, salt water, pen raised cutthroat breaks the normal growing cycle of a juvenile Cutthroat smolt? I thought I read that Cutthroat rear in freshwater for 1-3 years before saltwater migration? Am I mistaken?
 

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The south Sound and Hood Canal have a predominance of small (20 or fewer cfs minimum summer flow) creeks draining directly into marine waters while the north Sound has typically larger streams (70 or more cfs). Typically, such small streams host late-entry cutthroat while larger streams have predominantly early-entry populations. Presumably the difference may lie in the difficulty of access to these smaller streams prior to their being swollen by fall and winter freshets, as well as the lack of food available to feed a relatively large cutthroat in these small streams.

Yes, cutthroat rear typically for two years prior to smolting in streams emptying into the sheltered waters of Puget Sound (typically for three years in rivers emptying directly into the Pacific Ocean). The fish in Johnston's study were captured cutthroat which had already smolted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Seeing the pictures of Quan's most excellent sea-run I got to think about such fish and how frequently such fish occur in the population; or perhaps more correctly in our catches.

Nearly all of my sea-run cutthroat experience has been on north Sound waters; specifically the Snohomish, Stillaguamish and Skagit basins. Because my fishing is in freshwater my fishing is limited than those opportunities that some of you can potentially experience on the "salty" waters of south Sound. On a typical fall I may average 10 or 12 trips a season. However I have fished those rivers for a long enough period I think I have caught a large enough sample of region's cutthroat to have a feel for how frequently such monsters as Quan's fish (20 inches or more) occur. Based on my catches I expect to see a 20 inches or better on the average once in every 500 or so fish; pretty darn rare!

Given the number of hard core cutthroat folks plying the south Sound waters and the number of years some of you have fished those waters I suspect you have caught more then enough fish to make valid observations to what I have presented above on my north Sound fishing.

Given the apparent faster growth the questions for those fish South Sound do you encounter such fish more frequently? If so how often (what portion of the population is over 20 inches)?

Just curious.

Curt
 

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9x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
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Seeing the pictures of Quan's most excellent sea-run I got to think about such fish and how frequently such fish occur in the population; or perhaps more correctly in our catches.

Nearly all of my sea-run cutthroat experience has been on north Sound waters; specifically the Snohomish, Stillaguamish and Skagit basins. Because my fishing is in freshwater my fishing is limited than those opportunities that some of you can potentially experience on the "salty" waters of south Sound. On a typical fall I may average 10 or 12 trips a season. However I have fished those rivers for a long enough period I think I have caught a large enough sample of region's cutthroat to have a feel for how frequently such monsters as Quan's fish (20 inches or more) occur. Based on my catches I expect to see a 20 inches or better on the average once in every 50o or so fish; pretty darn rare!

Given the number of hard core cutthroat folks plying the south Sound waters and the number of years some of you have fished those waters I suspect you have caught more then enough fish to make valid observations to what I have presented above on my north Sound fishing.

Given the apparent faster growth the questions for those fish South Sound do you encounter such fish more frequently? If so how often (what portion of the population is over 20 inches)?

Just curious.

Curt
Caught hundreds in South sound, none over 20".

1/50 (2%) being a legit 20" seems impossible in South sound.
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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I've caught exactly one that was measured and over 20".
I've had three others either on or follow that I felt were legit 20+ inch fish.
I've caught a good number of them in the 18-19" range.
Anything over 20" is a pretty special fish in my opinion and just don't occur that often.
That being said, I think there are some super jumbo specimens out there like the one posted, they just don't occur all that often.

One other thing I noted this year in regards to the north sound.
I know those fish generally enter streams earlier, but this year I encountered some nice large saltwater cutts well into October on north sound beaches.
I'm glad they decided not to follow the rules.
SF
 

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To be clear, I'm not calling bs on 20" fish in north Sound, just talking about my experience in South sound.

Come to think of it , the nicest cutties I've caught have come from n sound rivers
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Golfman -

Somehow I had typed 50o inside of 500; a rate of one out of 500 is rate of 0.002 or 0.2%.

Sorry for any confusion.

SF-
Not surprised that some nice fish were caught well into October off north Sound beaches. While the peak entry of cutthroat into north Sound rivers may be late August and September the bulk return entry timing for those rivers range from early July into November. On those rare years where we have an warm dry October and associated low flow I find good numbers of fresh run fish in tide water of those waters through all of October.

This early versus late timing doesn't mean that all the fish fit the same mode but rather on the whole on north Sound rivers the majority of the returning fish are in freshwater much earlier than the majority of the returning fish to many of the South Sound streams. As with most of our wild anadromous salmonids there always seem to be fish that are outside of the boxes that we want to place them in; they follow their "rules", not ours! I recall a June day on the upper Snohomish where I encountered a nice pod of fresh cutthroat and have had reports of north Sound cutthroat caught on "salty" beaches through at least Thanksgiving. I expect you find some of the same diversity on those more southern waters.

Curt
 
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