Willapa Sea-run Cutt Anglers Asked To Release Stitched Trout

Anglers are being asked to release and report any sea-run cutthroat with sutured bellies they catch in Willapa Bay tributaries from now through next spring.


The trout are part of a study that aims to provide a better understanding of how the anadromous fish transition between fresh- and saltwater in the South Coast system, according to WDFW. The suture is where biologists have inserted an acoustic tag.

“The study this summer aims to identify inter-habitat (freshwater, estuarine, and nearshore) movements, and the role temperature, salinity, tide, and barriers (dams and culverts) play in determining movement patterns,” said Nick Vanbuskirk, an agency fisheries biologist, in a press release. “Regional biologists will also be exploring fine scale movement of fish in the nearshore marine environments with a focus on improving fishing opportunity.”

Plans call for the capturing and tagging of some 200 adult fish in Washington and British Columbia waters.

Anglers can call (360) 490-9372 to report catching tagged trout.

The work in Willapa follows on sea-run research done in Hood Canal, which has found that the cutts primarily migrate inside the fjord, while Puget Sound and Columbia fish wander further afield.

Oregon Coast systems also host the trout and fishing on them picks up this time of year. One kayak angler reported catching a half dozen from 8 to 16 inches using a Woolly Bugger earlier this week.

WDFW’s focus on coastal cutthroat at a time that Olympic Peninsula steelhead are struggling and the subject of a possible Endangered Species Act listing – as are Washington Coast spring Chinook – did not sit well with two fish advocates.

Cutthroat regulations on Willapa Bay tribs typically include a 14-inch minimum and a Saturday-before-Memorial-Day opener, but they do vary by stream, so check WDFW’s pamphlet.

As always, trout are required to be released in Willapa Bay and all salt waters of the state.