Sea Run Cutthroat on Puget Sound

Last week I tried casting the beaches for sea-run cutthroat trout in Puget Sound in the Seattle area. The fish were around. We went to a beach on the recommendation of our bud Ryan Smith at Arch Anglers, with the caveat that this wasn’t a big numbers spot, as much as a big fish spot.

surf casting beach

He was right on both counts. We showed up on a dropping tide and blind cast from the beach, and every half hour or so, one of us would spot a big silver sea-run cutthroat charging around the surf. We’d cast toward it, and never see it again.

I was excited to get out there and do it, since I’d just picked up Chester Allen’s new book on Sea-Run Cutthroat.

There are no hatcheries cranking out baby sea-run cutthroat trout. The Puget Sound sea-run cutthroat fishery is an all wild fishery – and it is very delicate.

A wild sea-run cutthroat trout – with hammered silver sides, olive back, and yellow tinged fins – all sprinkled with black, ink-like spots – streaks through the clear water and hammers a well presented fly. Seeing that flash in the water, feeling the fly line pop out of the hand – and seeing a wild gorgeous trout that manages to thrive near humans makes me a little dizzy – every time.

sea-run cutthroat book

It’s a good read if you’re interested in this year-round fishery. It’s really fascinating to see the way the Puget Sound cutthroat anglers really dive into the marine environment in the same way trout anglers study entomology on the rivers. You can see a couple great blog posts here, detailing how to mimic specific stages of baitfish:

Cutthroats and Chum Salmon Flies
Larval Herring

Based on what I’ve read, and experience, the flies I had tied were a little oversized, over dressed.


Gear notes — definitely bring your stripping basket if you have one. I also used an Echo Ion Fly Reel and thought it was an amazing buy for $79.

echo ion fly reel

Casting the surf for trout is a lot of fun, and a good break for anybody traveling to Seattle.


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1 Response to Sea Run Cutthroat on Puget Sound

  1. Stevie says:

    For me that is cool but unproductive fishery.

    I was on Camano Island a few weeks ago and saw chum fry all along the beach but nary a cutty and no takes at all.

    someone has that figured out but not I…

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