Sea Run Cutthroat … now’s the time!

Sea Run Cutthroat are in already – and it’s only mid July…

Last week was a great opportunity to explore and fish my brains out. Spring Chinook season was winding down, but the ocean was there and, for me, a whole new sea to dip my toes into. And I had been noticing some fish messing around the estuaries that looked a lot like sea run cutthroat.

So, with visions of chunky twenty inch sea runs in my mind, I ventured out two times to look for one of my very favorite anadromous fish, the estuary and near-shore coastal cutthroat trout. I prefer to fish an outgoing tide, and I fished two windy afternoons – one in rain and one in sun, fishing an Echo Edge 590-4 matched with an Echo Ion 6/7 fly reel loaded with an Airflo Ridge Clear Delta line.

I fished grassy banks that dropped off into four feet of water. I fished sandy troughs that held three feet of water at low tide. I fished pilings and drop offs. I fished at the head of tide and – yes, I found sea runs. The question of how far offshore these fish had ventured, or if they actually had gone to sea or were silvery simply as a consequence of living in the saline estuary is one I really can’t answer.

Of 3 fish I enticed to my streamer in two afternoons, two were hooked and released. Both were very silvery, but neither had the striking blue back these fish sometimes show when they return fresh from the sea. I saw several much larger cutthroat chasing baitfish or rising to take something from the surface. But was not able to tempt the big fish to my fly. These were clearly not river cutts, but could have been estuary fish rather than offshore beasties. Whatever; they counted in my mind as sea runs, even if the definition of “sea” is open to interpretation. Ya know how it goes?

Anyway, I had a great time pushing a 5 wt with a small streamer into the wind across sand flats and chucking flies up under trees at head of tide. The Echo Edge was light, strong, and measured among the most pleasing sea run rods I have fished over the years. The Clear Intermediate line put my streamer just a foot under the surface, right where I like it for sea runs.

What a great way to get the 2011 sea run cutthroat season started! The next several months is going to be wonderful fishing and exploration time.


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19 Responses to Sea Run Cutthroat … now’s the time!

  1. Two dogs says:

    Nice write up. Must be where all my fish went this year.

  2. Steve P. says:

    Jay, glad to see your seasonal plans are taking shape. I like the clear intermediate. I don’t know who might make one anymore, but floating lines that grade to 10′ clear tip are nice for this kind of fishing, stealthy, quick pickup, and no loop-loop connector to hang in the guides then they’re slashing at your fly all way back to the boat

  3. Brian says:

    De-barb the hook of the fly in that first picture! 🙂

  4. island fisher says:

    sounds like fun, I love sea runs

  5. mike doughty says:

    real nice!

  6. Roger says:

    Sounds like some great fishing here. I’m over here on the east coast-I’d love to get out there some day. Great blog, btw.

  7. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Thanks Steve. Sea Runs and the ocean adventures are shaping up really nice. Salmon fever is fine, to a point of being ridiculous. And yes, both Rio and SA offer great fly lines with a 10′ intermediate tip, and these are right up at the top of the heap with full clear intermediate lines for sea runs and salmon. JN

  8. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Ooooooops. JN

  9. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Huh? Better lure some back up to your home waters, because I still plan on a visit this summer/fall….. JN

  10. Dewy says:

    Good article aside from the gear promotion. This morning I loaded up the 99 Toyota with leer camper shell and BF Goodrich tires, with the 2004 unregistered Springer Spaniel and the 1993 Winston with 1991 Orvis clearwater reel and some old cracked rio dt floating line, with a sink tip attached. We saw a few cutty’s….

  11. Mike says:

    any chance of another cutthroat class this summer?

  12. Token Trees says:

    is it a searun or resident, that is the question.

  13. Max Root says:

    Jay that fly is GORGEOUS! I love it! Simple, yet elegant. Impressionistic, yet the colors could be modified to represent almost any baitfish. Very very nice tie!

  14. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    OK. You nailed it. May I refer to these fish as Estuary Run cutthroat? Silver says saltwater. But no blue back, so, maybe, not quite to the deep blue? JN

  15. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Yes. Chris and I are considering a combo chinook and sea run cutthroat class to be held before long. Thanks for asking. JN

  16. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    I am deeply buy new gear surprised that you need new fly line thought that there was replace leader tippet any intent to promote new fly rods make you a better angler sales of fly fishing and you will catch more giant fish with new tackle equipment Watermaster raft. This article was tippet nippers purely sun gloves written to share Simms waders a great day Patagonia sun hoodie on the Echo fly rods water. Really. JN

  17. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Thanks, it is one of my favorite estuary flies. JN

  18. Shane Stewart says:

    right now is not the right time for cutthroat trout and you should know better Rob! There are numerous wild smolt in the rivers right now and so why risk possibly harming them?

  19. Rob R says:

    Shane, I did not write the article. It was written by Jay Nicholas, Oregon’s leading salmonid biologist. He’s a pretty good authority on these fish, but I appreciate your defense of the smolts very much. I believe Jay was fishing in the salt, and we have not seen a steelhead smolt down there so far this season. You are right, though, that the rivers are loaded with many year classes of young salmonids, and they are vulnerable.

    I caught your latest dose of anger and hate on your blog, The Quiet Pool. It’s a crying shame to see such a good, passionate person lowering himself to hateful, inaccurate drivel. You know you’re only hurting the cause for wild fish, right?

    In case you’re interested, I’m not a guide, and I do not profit from my angling. In fact all I do is spend what little money I have on fishing–unlike the all-star pimps you like to worship. I devote a lot of time and stomach lining to advocating for wild fish. It strains my friendships and causes some sleepless nights. But, again, the guides you worship, who moved here from out of state to exploit our wild fisheries for profit, are conspicuously absent from the fight.

    I will pray daily that you awaken to the need for positive, constructive advocacy. Not only for the benefit of our wild fish, but for your own health and well-being.

    Love & hope for you,


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