Seasonal Movements and Associated Management
Implications for Coastal Cutthroat Trout in
South Puget Sound.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife,
Fred Goetz, and Tom Quinn
University of Washington,
Nisqually Indian Tribe
Coastal Cutthroat Trout Management in WA.
Important sport fish species in South Puget
Historically supported a large harvest fishery
Overharvest resulted in declines (anecdotal).
WDFW responded with conservative
1999 catch and release was implemented in
all marine areas.
Coastal Cutthroat Trout Stock Status
Status Review of Coastal Cutthroat Trout from
Washington, Oregon, and California (NMFS 1999).
Six ESU (Puget Sound, Olympic Peninsula, Southwestern
Washington/Columbia River, upper Willamette River,
Oregon Coast, and Southern Oregon/California Coasts).
Puget Sound ESU includes all streams in Puget Sound
and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
NMFS determined that Puget Sound ESU is not in
danger of extinction (decision was based on relatively
2000 Washington State, Salmon and Steelhead
Inventory (SaSI), coastal cutthroat (WDFW 2000).
Insufficient data were available to assess stock status
for 32 of the 40 WA stocks.
Western South Sound Coastal Cutthroat
Status is “Unknown” (SaSI, 2000)
Stock Status Challenges
Coastal cutthroat trout don’t follow the rules.
Limited incidental observation data and few trap
data (size selective, and run-timing).
No harvest /angling effort data available (CRC or
No baseline information (no historical
Coastal Cutthroat Trout Stock Assessment.
2006 WDFW staff began surveying South Puget Sound
streams thought to support spawning coastal cutthroat.
Objective was/is to develop a set of index surveys
(similar to coho and chum stock assessment) to detect
changes in relative abundance over time.
Quickly identified Skookum Creek as supporting a “high
density” spawning population of anadromous coastal
Other index stream include Kennedy Creek (2009), Little
Skookum Creek (2008), Swift Creek (2010) and Perry
2008 2009 2010
Skookum Creek 6.5-7.5 Skookum Creek 5.7-6.5
Little Creek 0-0.4 Kennedy Creek 0-2.3
South Puget Sound Coastal Cutthroat Trout
Redd Counts, (by Stream Index) 2008-2010.
Coastal Cutthroat Trout Index Area Redd
Counts, Skookum Creek, 2008-09.
2008-09 Acoustic Tagging Project
Tagged and released (Oct. 2008) 30 adult
coastal cutthroat in Skookum Inlet (15) and
near Squaxin Island (15).
Established 18 receiver locations in South
Puget Sound and in Skookum Creek (November
Document mortality, movements, and relative
abundance of tagged fish in Skookum Creek
Skookum Release Group Squaxin Release Group
Coastal Cutthroat Trout Detections in South
Puget Sound, Oct. 08-May 09.
Skookum Fish Squaxin Fish
Coastal Cutthroat Trout Post Release
Detections, by Month, (and Release Group)
in South Puget Sound, Oct. 08-May 09.
Four of the fish tagged were either not detected or
detected in only one location (Mortality).
None of the tagged fish were detected outside South
15% (n=4) of tagged fish were detected at RM 4 below
the Skookum Creek Index site.
Two of the fish detected at RM 4 were not detected
again at RM 0 (high post spawning mortality).
Receivers deployed at the mouths of Skookum Creek,
Goldsborough Creek, and Mill Creek detected 58% of
These data suggest that acoustic tagging cutthroat
results in low short term (6 months) mortality.
Index surveys may be useful at detecting changes
in relative abundance over time.
These data also indicated that Goldsborough
Creek and Mill Creek could be important spawning
locations in South Puget Sound.
Based on limited data, West South Sound Coastal
cutthroat appear to be stable.
More information is needed………
Tag # 20539
320mm fish Tagged in Skookum Inlet November
Remained in Skookum Inlet until Jan 1st when
moved to Totten Inlet.
Returned to Skookum Inlet on Jan 10th and was
illegally harvested on April 1st.
Scott Steltzner and Sarah Haque (Squaxin
Indian Tribe), Don Freeman, Hal Boynton,
and Bill Young, Jack Haven (volunteers).