Sea run cutthroat are a native species of trout and are one of the few game fish labeled anadromous as they travel between fresh and saltwater. While your average size SRC will go 12-14 inches, one of the most exciting aspect to wetting lines in the Sound is you never know what you will get. 12 inches this time, the next might be 22 inches, you just never know.
These gorgeous trout-like salmon and steelhead travel into the various large rivers and less obvious trickling little streams to spawn, then return to the vast waters of the Sound for what is a much harder life than their resident brethren in the rivers.
The Sound is littered with fish and other wildlife well above the SRC on the food chain, so constantly searching for food has to be measured accordingly with an upward and backward eye for seals, otters, eagles and osprey to name a few.
Unlike a river cutthroat, these fish do not necessarily call a particular piece of water “home”, allowing you to pinpoint exactly where they will be each time you come knocking. With tide changes of over 16 feet on big swings, their homes are in a constant state of change so your best ally besides a good cast is to keep moving, covering water and taking it all in.
Some days the Sound can be your best friend, your favorite fix close to home. On other days, when adorned with relentlessly pounding rain, sleet and wind, it will kick you to the curb, it happens to the best and most loyal so don’t take it personally.
Once you have caught enough in your day or your life to satiate, go top-water for what is maybe the most engaging way to pursue any trout, anywhere. Stripping a pencil popper clear to your rod tip as they slash at it only to finally grab ‘n go. And, if here in the summer or fall, that “never know what you’ll get” might tie you into a 10 pound, still-feeding-in-saltwater coho. And you're just getting started!
Dave McCoy is a professional fly fishing guide, avid photographer and owner of Seattle, Washington's Emerald Water Anglers. Originally from Eugene, OR, Dave has fished the waters of the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain West for more than two decades and has pursued fish all over the globe in locations such as Central America, Caribbean, India, Tierra del Fuego, Mongolia and the South Pacific. He is a Patagonia Ambassador, pro staff member for Airflo, Winston Fly Rods, Bauer Reels, Filson, Loon Outdoors, Oakley, Koffler Boats and is a GreenFish ambassador. Learn more about Dave at Emerald Water Anglers.