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coastal cutthroat

Fly fishing for searun cutthroat

The Searun cutthroat, also known as the Coastal cutthroat, is a popular fish for fly fishing enthusiasts.

The draw for fly fishing for searun cutthroat stems from the relatively large numbers of the fish, due to a good comeback, and the wide array of areas that searun cutthroat can be found. In the summer and fall, take a stroll down any Puget sound beach, or along the banks of any coastal stream, river, or tributary in the Pacific Northwest and you just might find a few coastal cutthroat hanging around.

At times searun cutthroat will slam flies with reckless abandon, and at other times they will display lockjaw to rival a coho salmon.

Once a few willing specimens are found, the searun cutthroat is a strong fighter, who can test a fly anglers gear. Although not nearly as large as their searun cousins, the steelhead, the searun cutthroat is a hard fighter and is a thrill to catch on fly fishing gear. Coastal cutthroat will grow to a decent size and can push the 20+ inch mark.

Fly Fishing Gear

Whether targeting coastal cutthroat with fly fishing gear in the saltwater, or in the freshwater streams and rivers they migrate in and out of, a 5/6 weight fly rod with a matching reel is adequate. A floating line will usually be your go-to choice, but sometimes an intermediate or heavier sink tip can be utilized effectively.

Clouser Minnow

Clouser Minnow

Searun cutthroat flies vary by situation. A good assortment of sandlance, clousers, deceivers, and muddler fly patterns will usually do the trick in the saltwater while spiders, reverse spiders, muddlers, rolled muddlers, and flies like the borden special work well in freshwater rivers and streams.

When fly fishing for sea-run cutthroat, it is a good idea to carry a variety of different sized flies to match the situation. At times, in the upper reaches of rivers and streams dry flies, and sometimes egg flies, will work wonders on hungry searun cutthroat.

Reading the water

Searun cutthroat like to hang in slow, protected water. This can sometimes pose a challenge when fly fishing for them since it is very different from the usual trout holding water. When fly fishing for searun cutthroat, avoid the usual trout holding water, and instead look for water that more closely resembles smallmouth bass water.

Slow water, around rock piles, undercut banks, and holding deep within submerged logs are key places to look for searun cutthroat.

Related articles:

Fly fishing for Searun Cutthroat in rivers

The best tide levels for saltwater searun cutthroat fishing

Washington state searun cutthroat fishing

Popular flies for searun cutthroat trout

Washington State Searun Cutthroat Fly Fishing

Washington state has opportunities for searun cutthroat fishing that are limited only by the amount of coastline available. That being said, huge amounts of areas within Puget Sound, the Olympic Peninsula, and south to the Columbia river have prime sea run cutthroat habitat. Any estuary area from full blown rivers down to small streams have the capability of harboring searun trout.

Searun Cutthroat Puget Sound beach

Searun Cutthroat Puget Sound beach

Puget Sound Cutthroat
From the southern part of Puget Sound near Tacoma and Seattle all the way up to Bellingham near the Canadian border, fishing opportunities for searuns are excellent. Puget sound is ripe with opportunities for anglers to chase searun cutts both in the saltwater and freshwater. With large areas of prime saltwater accessible to boat anglers and beach going anglers, Puget sound is a haven for searun cutthroat enthusiasts.

When fishing the salt, look for areas that provide cover and the chance for tidal rips or currents to move food around. Kelp beds, rocks, logs, estuary mud flats and more all provide premium habitat for saltwater searun cutthroat.

From small streams to full blown rivers, the Puget sound area is rich with freshwater opportunities. Pretty much any coastal stream has, or at one point had, runs of sea run cutthroat. In the late summer and fall when the searuns begin to move into the rivers, look for these seagoing trout in slow moving water around logjams, steep rocky embankments, undercut banks, and other hideouts.

River Searun Cutthroat fly fishing

River Searun Cutthroat fly fishing

Fishing the Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic coastal strip near Forks, Washington has many rivers and streams that provide excellent angling. Aside from the world class Steelheading, another draw to the area could be to chase the smaller, but equally spirited searun cutthroat.

From Neah bay all the way down to Queets, there are opportunities to catch searun cutthroat in the creek mouths, off the beaches, and in the rivers. A hike down any of the ample public beaches just might be rewarded with the opportunity to catch searun cutthroat off the beach and in the estuaries of any of the numerous creeks and rivers.

Searun cutthroat in Washingtons rivers
The rest of Washington state offers plenty of rivers and streams that searuns use for spawning and rearing. Google maps can be a valuable asset in finding small creeks and tributaries off major rivers. Anywhere where public access can be found to the mouths of such creeks and rivers can most likely be productive at times.