SEARUN – Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii)
I've been fly-fishing practically my whole life on the waters of the Pacific Northwest and it seems to be the Searun Cutthroat Trout that intrigues me the most. They are anadromous, meaning that they spend part of their lives in freshwater streams and creeks to spawn, and then return to the salt water to feed vigorously until it’s time for them to return to their freshwater birthplace and begin their cycle over again. I eagerly anticipate both seasons of their journey but in the early fall when they make their way back to their native streams and creeks in full size, the artist in me is amazed at their exquisite markings and ever changing spawning colors. Their natural colors return as they leave the freshwater, returning to the estuaries. Within a few weeks after returning to the saltwater their tired and scarred bodies begin to heal and once again their beautiful silver bodies shine brightly. And while their maximum size will not compare to their relatives, the Salmon or the Steelhead, they will reach sizes ranging anywhere from 12” to an impressive 20”. On occasion you'll find Cutthroats over 20″ which will put your skills to the test.
Streamside enhancement projects, along with education and awareness campaigns, have made people much more aware of the role each of us plays in protecting our delicate waterways. With our native Steelhead populations rebounding we now have an estimated 25% hybridization of Cutthroat and Steelhead which can be found in most coastal waters. Though these hybrids do look and act differently than a native Searun Cutthroat, they still make a great sport for anglers on the fly.
I am extremely fortunate to have had my father pass down his knowledge of the Cutthroat, their habitat and the protection of one of the best catch and release sport fisheries anywhere. He taught me that proper care should always be taken when handling and releasing any fish. Photos are great to have for your memories, but should only be taken after the hook has been removed and should be taken with the fish in or just above the water, as rocks and boat bottoms could cause harm if accidentally dropped while trying to get that perfect photo. Always try to release any fish into the water gently, facing them upstream. They will let you know when they are ready and then you can let go.
I have been fishing for Searun Cutthroat trout for over 35 years and I am excited each season to take clients on the water to share my passion and offer them an opportunity to experience the beautiful habitat where these remarkable fish reside. The next time you’re fishing for these beautiful fish and are given the opportunity to catch one, I would encourage you to stop, enjoy the moment and create a memory.
I look forward to guiding you soon.
Capt. Wm. Mark Dalton
USCG OUPV Captain
Licensed Washington State Guide
First-Aid / CPR
June – Oct. (Searun Cutthroat)
Reservations – Call 360.731.3145