Cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki) are commonly referred to as Blueback because the color on their back is often a beautiful deep iridescent blue.  Blueback return to Oregon's coastal rivers during the series of spring tides that occur from the last half of July through August and in declining numbers through September into Oct.  They hold the in the cool layer of deep water in the upper tidal reach of the river channels of Oregon’s bays until seasonal rains initiate upriver migration.

17¼ inch cutthroat trout caught by author in the upper tidal reach of the Yaquina River

  Searun cutthroat trout smolt between their 1st and 4th year entering the ocean from March through June but usually during May.  Some searun cutthroat return to tidal reach of coastal rivers during the summer and fall, while others over winter in the ocean returning the following summer.  Cutthroat trout mature during their 3rd year living as long as 10 years.  The average searun cutthroat trout caught in coastal rivers measures about 13 plus inches in length.  They achieve a maximum length of 23 inches and weigh as much as 5 pounds.  Searun cutthroat trout returning to spawn for the 4th or 5th time attain lengths of 17 to 19 inches.

  The most productive fishing occurs early in the run as migrating cutthroat trout move into the deeper holes in the upper tidal reach of the river channels.  The best fishing occurs at daybreak and sunset trolling a worm or a spinner 24 inches behind a Doc Shelton or Ford Fender against the incoming tide in the upper tidal reach of the river channels.

  Searun cutthroat trout offer equal opportunity to anglers fishing from the riverbanks in tidewater.  Fishing a night crawler on the bottom of the deeper holes during the incoming tide or at low tide is the most productive method to catch migrating searun cutthroat trout.  Casting ¼ ounce yellow, white or orange colored rooster tails or chrome or brass panther marten spinners to the far side of the hole allowing the spinner to sink near the bottom before retrieving it with a slight jigging motion is also very productive. 

  The table quality of ocean fresh cutthroat trout is excellent as they migrate into the upper tidal reach of the river channels but like their larger cousins the quality of their flesh declines the longer they remain in tidewater.  They spawn during late winter into spring before returning to the ocean. They stop feeding until after they spawn loosing over 40 percent on their weight.  They develop a reluctance to take bait or strike lures – but at times will aggressively strike lures and take flies.  Searun cutthroat trout are an answer to a fly fisherman’s dream readily taking both aquatic and terrestrial flies.  Remember conservation is the key to the future of searun cutthroat trout.

Return to the Other Coastal Fish Species.