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Fly Fishing for Searun Cutthroat in Rivers

Throughout the spring and summer you’re likely to find searun cuthroat hanging out around estuaries near the mouths of rivers and streams in the saltwater. In the fall, searun cutthroat move up out of the estuaries and into the rivers and streams proper at which time fly fishing for them can be extremely productive.

Searun Cutthroat fishing in the river

Searun Cutthroat fishing in the river

This can be an exciting time to fish for them as they can be targeted around the various structures that will consistently hold searun cutthroat. Some of the best fly fishing techniques for catching searun cutthroat in rivers are to cast tight to shore or the structure and retrieve your fly with a few quick erratic strips before swinging the fly down with the current.

John Shewey points out, in is great book, Northwest Fly Fishing Trout and Beyond: Trout and Beyond, that searun cutthroat trout are more likely to be found in habitat similar to that of smallmouth bass, than other trout.

Fish in Non-traditional Trout Fishing Spots

You can fish riffles and slots where trout would normally be found, and have no success in finding searun cutthroat. Bluebacks prefer slow water, log jams, steep rocky drop offs, and cut banks. In other words, places to hide under cover.

Cast near one of these types of lies and you’re likely to be rewarded with a sleep silvery fish darting out and slamming your fly.

Learn to spot the likely holding water for searun cutthroat and your fishing productivity will skyrocket.

Once you’ve found a spot that holds searuns, remember it, because unless the river changes course or eliminates the hold, fish will be there every year.

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.