Sea-run Cutthroat Trout: Biology, Management and Future Conservation

October 12-14, 1995 Pacific Auditorium, Reedsport High School Reedsport, Oregon

Presented by: Lower Umpqua Flycasters in association with: Oregon Council, Federation of Fly Fishers Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Oregon Chapter, American Fisheries Society Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University

Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout: Biology, Management, and Future Conservation
October 12 – 14, 1995

Support for this symposium has been provided by the following:
ArToday, Reedsport Bureau of Land Management California Trout CBSI, Reedsport City of Reedsport Clark-Skamania Fly Fishers, Vancouver, WA Federation of Fly Fishers Funk & Associates, Eugene, OR Humboldt Chapter, American Fisheries Society Humboldt State University International Paper Company Lower Columbia Fly Fishers, Longview, WA McKenzie Flyfishers, Eugene, OR National Marine Fisheries Service North Coast Fly Fishers, Arcata, CA Northwest Power Planning Council Oregon Chapter, American Fisheries Society Oregon Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers Oregon Trout PacifiCorp Rainland Flycasters, Astoria, OR Redwood National Park Reedsport School District Reedsport/Winchester Bay Chamber of Commerce Santiam Flycasters, Inc., Salem, OR Sea-Run Cutthroat Coalition, Sumner, WA Shelton-Turnbull, Printers, Eugene, OR South Sound Fly Fishers, Olympia, WA Southern Oregon Fly Fishers, Grants Pass, OR The Pacific Rivers Council The Steamboaters U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Forest Service Weyerhaeuser Company
Lower Umpqua Flycasters
P.O. Box 521
Reedsport, OR 97467

Welcome to the symposium Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout: Biology, Management, and Future Conservation. It is with much anticipation that the Lower Umpqua Flycasters and the community of Reedsport welcome you to the southern Oregon coast. We believe the symposium will heighten general awareness about sea-run cutthroat trout and be a catalyst for future protection, study, and enhancement of native sea-run cutthroat populations.

Early in this century, sea-run cutthroat trout provided the preeminent fishery on the Pacific Northwest coast. But with time the interest of sports anglers and biologists waned in favor of the glamour species, salmon and steelhead. Even though sea-run cutthroat trout have suffered great losses during the crash of anadromous salmonid populations, the sea-run cutthroat losses have gone virtually unnoticed. If not for the recent proposal to protect the sea-run cutthroat trout of the Umpqua River under the Endangered Species Act, how much real interest would there be for this fish that has no commercial value and relatively little mass appeal for sports anglers?

In 1991, the newly-formed Lower Umpqua Flycasters started a conservation project with the help of Dave Loomis and Dave Liscia, biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The club embarked on a Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) project and adopted the sea-run cutthroat trout of Winchester Creek because of the strong “blueback” tradition in the lower Umpqua area, the rapid decline in local populations, and the lack of other conservation projects dealing specifically with sea-runs.

Club members have worked on Winchester Creek conducting physical and biological and juvenile fish surveys, constructing and operating a fish trap, and collecting scale samples. The most popular research techniques used by club members have been those that utilize fly rods and favorite fly patterns. However, in spite of zealous sampling and in-stream work, it soon became apparent that resources available for planning enhancement projects for sea-run cutthroat were seriously lacking. The last major study on sea-run cutthroat trout, one conducted by Richard Giger of the Oregon State Game Commission, was published in 1972 and the last comprehensive meeting on sea-runs was at the periphery of the conscious memory of most professional fisheries people.

It was during a Lower Umpqua Flycasters meeting in late 1992 that the idea of a scientific symposium on sea-run cutthroat trout was proposed. Club members felt that a symposium could help to fill in some of the knowledge gaps and it would help to draw attention to the plummeting sea-run populations. In June 1993, Patrick Trotter was contacted about the idea and his response was enthusiastically positive. He suggested other individuals who might be interested and he encouraged us to pursue the project. With each ensuing contact there was more encouragement and more names of individuals with ideas and support. Finally, in July 1994, the program began to take shape as individuals working with sea-runs began accepting the invitation to speak at the symposium. The planning committee was assembled in December 1994 and in July 1995, the symposium was formally accepted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as an educational component of the STEP project on Winchester Creek.

Many individuals deserve a thank you for bringing the symposium to this point. There are too many to name individually here, but I would like to say “thank you” to all of you who helped through your suggestions, encouragement, promotion, money, etc. One thing I have learned as a result of working on this project is that the group of people who are interested in sea-run cutthroat trout are collectively the most pleasant and helpful group I have ever worked with. I am confident that these traits will prevail at the symposium when the inevitable glitches and inconveniences pop up.

Recognition is due for some individuals who have been extremely important to the organization of the
symposium. Bob Hughes, President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, provided early
support and suggestions to help the symposium gain credibility. Bob Hooton, leader of the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife trout program, has literally gone the extra mile (probably well over 1000
by now) to serve on the planning committee, to make key contacts in the fisheries community, and to compile the data for the current status review of sea-run stocks in Oregon. Greg Pitts, President of the Oregon Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers, has been a gracious mentor and member of the planning committee, sharing his hard-earned knowledge of publishing and of meeting organization. Dave Liscia, STEP Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Lyssa Burton, Fisheries Biologist with the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, have been important members of the symposium planning committee.

Special recognition is due for Dr. Jim Hall, a retired professor from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. Dr. Hall, as the chair of the program committee, chief editor (with Bob Gresswell and Pete Bisson) of The Proceedings of the Symposium on Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout, and member of the planning committee, has been indispensable. If the symposium is in any way successful, it is in large part due to Dr. Hall’s efforts. One of his students recently commented that Dr. Hall has done a lot of planning for meetings and symposia during his career and that he must have forgotten how much work it was when he committed to this project. Dr. Hall’s memory lapse has proven to be our
good fortune.

Equally important has been the generous financial support from the many individuals and organizations representing private industry, federal agencies, and angling groups who were adventuresome enough to invest in this program. We are all indebted to them. Please take time to read the list of contributors and personally thank as many of their representatives as you can during the meeting.

Special thanks goes to Cindy Kenagy for creating her water color Winchester Creek Blueback specifically for the symposium poster. Thanks also goes to CBSI, Funk & Associates, and Sheldon-Turnbull, Printers who were all very generous with their contributions to the poster project.

Lastly, a special note of recognition is due to my long- suffering (most of the time), patient (usually a
stretch, but on this occasion true) wife, Kathy Crocker. Without her help, chaos would reign. And what’s more, she worries enough for the two of us, so I can concentrate on other things . . . like getting a welcome letter done before the deadline.

The process of conceiving, nurturing, and delivering this symposium has involved many people. I feel honored to have been a part of the process. Based on the final draft of the program, the list of distinguished presenters, and the participation of the individuals attending, it should prove to be an effective forum for achieving the goals of the symposium:

1.) to promulgate the state-of-the-art knowledge on all facets of sea-run cutthroat trout life history and ecology.
2.) to provide a current assessment of the status of sea-run cutthroat stocks coastwide.
3.) to encourage the development of a coordinated management plan to restore sea-run cutthroat trout populations.
4.) to help educate public and private policy makers and the general public about the plight of this often ignored member of the salmonid family and the desperate need for action to support its recovery.

John Crocker
Conservation Director
Lower Umpqua Flycasters


Thursday, October 12, 1995

10:00 – 1:00 Registration – Auditorium foyer

1:00 Greetings/Opening Remarks
John Crocker, Lower Umpqua Flycasters

Session 1: What is a sea-run cutthroat trout?
Chair: Don Campton, University of Florida

1:15 – 1:40 Evolution, systematics, and structure of O. clarki clarki
Robert Behnke, Colorado State University

1:40 – 2:05 Sea-run cutthroat trout: Life history profile
Patrick Trotter, Fishery Science Consultant, Seattle

2:05 – 2:30 Population structure: A coastwide genetic survey of coastal cutthroat trout
Thomas Williams, Oregon State University, Ken
Currens, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, and
Gordon Reeves, U.S. Forest Service

2:30 – 2:55 The effects of interspecific interactions and hybridization on sea-run cutthroat trout
Denise Hawkins, University of Washington

2:55 – 3:25 Break

3:25 – 3:50 Why sea-run? An exploration into the
migratory/residency spectrum of coastal cutthroat trout
Tom Northcote, University of British Columbia

3:50 – 4:15 Migratory patterns of mature cutthroat trout from
Auke Lake and Eva Lake
Doug Jones and Cheryl Seifert, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

4:15 – 4:40 Estuarine and saltwater residence of sea-run cutthroat trout
William Pearcy, Oregon State University

4:40 – 5:15 General questions and discussion

5:15 – 7:00 Poster Session/Social Hour – High School Cafeteria

Friday, October 13, 1995

Session 2: Status of the Stocks–A Coastwide Review
Chair: Jack Williams, Bureau of Land Management

8:30 – 8:55 Status and trends of anadromous salmonids in the coastal zone
Jack Williams, Bureau of Land Management

8:55 -9:20 Status of sea-run cutthroat trout in California
Eric Gerstung, California Department of Fish and Game

9:20 – 9:45 Status of sea-run cutthroat trout in Oregon
Bob Hooton, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

9:45 – 10:15 Break
10:15 – 10:40 Status of the sea-run cutthroat trout in Washington
Steve Leider, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

10:40 – 11:05 Status of anadromous cutthroat trout in British Columbia
Tim Slaney, Aquatic Resources Limited, Vancouver, B.C.

11:05 – 11:30 Status of sea-run cutthroat stocks in Alaska
Art Schmidt, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

11:30 – 12:00 General questions and discussion

12:00 – 1:00 Catered Lunch – High School Cafeteria

Session 3: Case Study of a Stock in Decline – Oregon’s Umpqua River
Chair: Stan Gregory, Oregon State University

1:00 – 1:25 Biological status review of Umpqua River sea-run cutthroat trout
Orlay Johnson, National Marine Fisheries Service

1:25 – 1:50 Review of natural and human-caused factors of decline
John Palmisano, John Palmisano Biological Consultants, Beaverton, OR

1:50 – 2:15 Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout recovery plan: Management activities within the shadow of obscurity
Dave Loomis, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

2:15 – 2:35 Water quality concerns in restoration of stream habitat in the Umpqua basin
Mark Powell, Colliding Rivers Research, Corvallis, OR

2:35 – 3:00 Restoration strategies for the Umpqua basin
Willa Nehlsen, Pacific Rivers Council

3:00 – 3:20 General questions and discussion

3:20 – 3:50 Break

Session 4: Contributed Papers
Chair: Stan Gregory, Oregon State University

3:50 – 4:10 Genetic relationships of cutthroat trout residing within two coastal basins
Kitty Griswold, Oregon State University

4:10 – 4:30 Population structure of coastal cutthroat trout in the Muck Creek basin, Washington
Chris Zimmerman, Oregon State University

4:30 – 4:50 Influence of stream characteristics and age-class interactions on populations of cutthroat trout
Pat Connolly, Oregon State University

4:50 – 5:10 Direct observation assessment of coastal cutthroat trout abundance and habitat utilization in the South Fork Smith River, California
Hans Voight and Tim Hayden, Humboldt State Univerity

6:30 pm Banquet – Keynote speech – “The Enemy is Us”
Bill Bradbury, Executive Director, For the Sake of the Salmon

Saturday, October 14, 1995

8:30 – 10:40 Session 4: Roundtable Discussion Moderator: Pete Bisson, Weyerhaeuser Company

This session is designed to allow a more informal approach to problems faced by sea-run cutthroat. Panelists will have 5 minutes each to address the following questions: 1) What is the value (social, economic, other) of sea-run cutthroat to your group? 2) What do you think should be done to improve the lot of cutthroat? This will be followed by discussion with audience participation.

Panelists: Jean Shaffer, Fisheries Issues Coordinator, Oregon Sierra Club, Bruce Crawford, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Phil Peterson, Simpson Timber Company, Olympia, WA, Bob Bumstead, McKenzie Fly Fishers, Eugene, OR, Les Johnson, Sporting Industry, Seattle

10:40 -11:10 Break

Session 5: Restoration and Recovery: What Do We Know, What Do We Need to Know, and What Should We Do?
Chair, Rick Applegate, Trout Unlimited

11:10 -11:35 Where are we coming from?: an historic perspective on cutthroat trout
Phil Schneider, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (retired)

11:35 – 12:00 The role of land management: past, present, and future
Gordon Reeves, U.S. Forest Service

12:00 – 1:00 Catered Lunch – High School Cafeteria

1:00 pm Session 5 (continues) – Instream habitat enhancement: do we know enough to do the right thing?

1:00 – 1:25 A review of fish habitat improvement projects in British Columbia
Ron Ptolemy, British Columbia Ministry of the Environment

1:25 – 1:50 Habitat enhancement: the view from Oregon
Mario Solazzi, Tom Nickelson, and Steve Johnson, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

1:50 – 2:15 What is the role for hatchery programs? The Stone Lagoon experience
Eric Loudenslager, Humboldt State University

2:15 – 2:40 The role of special angling regulations in maintaining and rebuilding populations of sea-run cutthroat trout
Roger Harding, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Bob Gresswell, Oregon State University

2:40 – 3:10 Break

3:10 – 3:35 The role of federal, state, and private entities in recovery of anadromous salmonids
Jim Lynch, National Marine Fisheries Service

3:35 – 4:00 The role of organized angling groups in recovery efforts
David Schorsh and Joe Jauquet, Sea-run Cutthroat Coalition, Washington

4:00 – 4:30 General questions and discussion

4:30 – 5:00 Summary and closing comments
Terry Roelofs, Humboldt State University

5:00 Adjourn

Session 1 – What is a Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout?

Evolution, systematics, and structure of Oncorhynchus clarki clarki.

Robert J. Behnke (Fishery and Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523 970/491-5320)

The evolutionary line leading to the subspecies clarki has been separated from all other intraspecific lineages of the species for about one million years. The close genetic relatedness among all populations of the subspecies from California to Alaska, however, indicates that during and since the last glacial epoch, a “coming together” and gene flow occurred that would have obliterated any significant preglacial divergences (a probable exception is a distinctive form of cutthroat
trout in Kamchatka).

From a fisheries point of view, the significance of the minor, postglacial differentiation of populations concerns life history and ecological adaptations, not any unique quantifiable genetic differences. That is, important life history and ecological adaptations have a genetic basis, but these adaptations should not be expected to be detected by DNA analysis.

Sea-run cutthroat trout: Life history profile.

Patrick C. Trotter (Fishery Science Consultant, 4926 26th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108; 206/723-8620)

The coastal cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki clarki occurs along the Pacific coast of North America from Humboldt Bay, California to Prince William Sound, Alaska, in a zone that conforms remarkably closely with the Pacific coast rain forest belt. The sea-run cutthroat trout is the anadromous form of this subspecies. Sea-run cutthroat adults show a preference for small streams, low gradient systems, and the lower gradient downstream reaches of large river systems, although in some populations adults migrate considerable distances upstream. They spawn in small tributaries from late winter to late spring depending on the locality. Juveniles rear in streams for two or more years, and if alone in the stream, are found predominately in pools and other slow-water habitats, especially those with root wads and large wood. Young-of-year sea-run cutthroat trout appear to be displaced from pools by young-of-year coho salmon and from riffle habitats by juvenile steelhead. Seaward migration of smolts peaks in May. Smolt age 2 is common in populations that migrate to sheltered saltwater areas, smolt age 3 or 4 in populations that migrate to the open ocean. Anadromy does not seem to be strongly developed in coastal cutthroat trout; fish generally remain close inshore or in areas of reduced salinity, as in river plumes, while in salt water. Also, they seldom if ever overwinter in salt water, but return to streams in the late summer, fall, or winter of the year they go to sea. In some instances, these are overwintering migrations only, because female sea-run cutthroat trout seldom spawn before age 4. There is evidence that homing to natal streams is precise in fish that will be ready to spawn, but individuals returning to fresh water just to overwinter may not necessarily return to their natal stream. Sea-run cutthroat trout survive spawning rather well and recover their condition quickly. Repeat spawning is not at all uncommon, with some fish returning to spawn three, four, and even five times. Sea-run cutthroat trout may live to an age of 7 or 8 years and reach maximum fork lengths of around 500 mm.

Population structure: A coastwide genetic survey of coastal cutthroat trout.

Thomas H. Williams (Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-3803; 503/737-2478)
Kenneth P. Currens (Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, 6730 Martin Way E., Olympia, Washington 98516-5540)
Gordon H. Reeves (U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, Oregon 97331)

Little is known concerning the interaction (i.e., migration, gene flow) among populations of coastal cutthroat trout and the resulting population structure of the subspecies across its range. Although local populations tend to have fewer individuals than populations of other species within the genus Oncorhynchus, coastal cutthroat trout have persisted in the dynamic landscape of the Pacific Northwest. An understanding of the population structure of the subspecies may provide insight on the possible mechanisms by which they persist. Preliminary results from a coastwide genetic survey using protein electrophoresis will be presented. General patterns, differences, and similarities among populations will be discussed within the broad context of the range of the subspecies. Population structure and differences among
populations will be compared to those described for other species of Oncorhynchus.

The effects of interspecific interactions and hybridization on sea-run cutthroat trout.

Denise Hawkins (School of Fisheries, University of Washington, Box 357980, Seattle, WA 98195; 206 (543-7745)

We must consider how cutthroat trout interact with other fishes to fully understand their ecology, evolution, and current status. Where and how a cutthroat lives is often dictated by sympatric salmonids. Coastal cutthroat interspecific interactions most often involve other salmonids with similar food and space requirements, such as steelhead trout and coho salmon in streams and Dolly Varden char in lakes. Examples from the literature are examined to describe
how competition for food and space affect cutthroat. In general, the niche used by cutthroat broadens in allopatry and is restricted when sympatric with other salmonids.

Hybridization is another form of interspecific interaction that has played an important role in the decline of many western trout species. Campton and Utter (1985) documented a significant number of cutthroat/steelhead hybrids in two Washington streams. To evaluate hybridization between coastal cutthroat and steelhead, a three-phase project was conducted. The objectives were 1) to document the occurrence of natural hybrids and verify field identification techniques, 2) to investigate the process of hybrid mating, and 3) to evaluate the comparative survival, development, and performance of hybrid and pure species juveniles. Results indicated that natural hybridization is occurring and that field identification of juveniles is
not completely accurate. The majority of hybrids had steelhead mothers. Furthermore, hybrids were generally intermediate in morphology and performance. In conclusion, since cutthroat/steelhead hybridization occurs and the progeny are not uniformly less fit than the parental species, the potential for a hybrid competitive advantage exists. Thus, hybridization could lead to the further decline of coastal cutthroat populations.

Why sea-run? An exploration into the migratory/residency spectrum of coastal cutthroat trout.

Thomas G. Northcote (10193 Giant’s Head Rd, RR # 2, Summerland B.C., V0H 1Z0, 604/494-8463)

Coastal cutthroat trout probably exhibit the broadest and most variable range in migratory behaviour to be found in the salmonid complex, perhaps as a result of the great variety of habitats that they can occupy at least temporarily, if not permanently. These include mainstem reaches of some large river systems such as the Fraser and Skeena in British Columbia, as well as many smaller rivers from northern California to Alaska (including their associated tributaries) and even very
small separate streams flowing directly into the sea, where headwater populations may inhabit isolated pools with oxygen levels dropping at times below 2 mg×L-1. In addition, the species also may live for periods in nearshore marine waters, in estuaries, in sloughs and associated backwaters, as well as standing waters ranging from very small bogs and ponds to large deep inland lakes. Nevertheless, there are some surprising gaps in the coastal distribution of the species, such as that on northwestern parts of the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. The spatial and temporal extent of this range is examined with specific examples drawn from the literature, as well as from unpublished studies, covering California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.

Though some populations are highly migratory between rivers or streams and estuarine regions, if not coastal seawaters, in others there are components that apparently never enter the estuary, let alone the sea, and still others that may spend their entire life isolated in one or at most a few headwater stream pools. Populations that dwell in small to large lakes (some well over 100 km inland from the coast) are surely migratory, but only between freshwater spawning habitat and freshwater feeding and/or wintering habitat. It is suggested that the cutthroat trout, one of a few early “pioneer” species reoccupying areas of the northwestern Pacific coast closely after glaciation, has responded to the associated pressures of environmental variability and unpredictability by partitioning its populations into a broad migratory/residency spectrum, bet-hedging its long-term continuity.

Migratory patterns of mature cutthroat trout from Auke Lake and Eva Lake.

Doug Jones and Cheryl Seifert (Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish, P.O. Box 240020, Douglas, AK 99824-0020; 907/465-4310)

A radio telemetry study was conducted in the spring of 1994 on sea-run cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) from Auke Lake to learn more about its life history. The goal of the study was to evaluate the importance of Auke Lake as an overwintering site and to determine which Juneau area streams are used for spawning by fish that overwinter in Auke Lake. Radio telemetry was used to track the movement of cutthroat trout emigrating from Auke Lake into Juneau area streams to spawn. Results from this research suggest that sea-run cutthroat trout overwintering in Auke Lake disperse widely into streams along the Juneau road system and in the immediate Juneau area.

In 1995 a similar study was conducted on Lake Eva on Baranof Island. The sea-run population of cutthroat trout in Lake Eva was much larger and had a lower exploitation rate than the Auke Lake population. The results were similar to the Auke Lake study, however. Like the fish from Auke Lake, cutthroat trout spread out both shoreline directions from Lake Eva and traveled considerable distances (up to 24 shoreline miles) to spawning streams. None of the trout in either study crossed large, deep bodies of water and it appears that these fish travel very close to the shoreline.

Estuarine and saltwater residence of sea-run cutthroat trout.

William Pearcy (College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331; 503/737-2601)

Our knowledge of the marine life of anadromous coastal cutthroat trout is limited. Smolts and kelts usually migrate to the ocean in the spring and return to fresh water during summer/fall after only a few months, rarely overwintering at sea. Fish were caught in purse seines off Oregon and Washington from May through August. None was caught during September. The highest catches in the ocean were 37-46 km offshore, and in the vicinity of the Columbia River plume, where surface temperature averaged 13.4 C and salinity 28.6 psu. Coastal movements of tagged fish are usually to the south, the direction of prevailing currents during the summer. Most fish caught at sea were age 1 or 2, from 260-320 mm FL. Marine growth rates averaged about 1.0 mm/day. Diets consisted largely of fishes and crustaceans. Northern anchovy was an important prey. Dietary overlap with other salmonids was moderate.

Although the residence of coastal cutthroat trout in the ocean and estuaries is brief compared to other anadromous salmonids, it may be an important phase in their life history. Unfavorable ocean conditions since 1976 may have resulted in poor ocean/estuarine growth and survival. Interannual variation in coastal upwelling, sea temperatures, and El Niño events will be related to the meager data on estimates of cutthroat run sizes and abundance. Unfortunately, reliable time series of sea-run cutthroat abundance are not available for rigorous comparisons with environmental factors.

Session 2 – Status of the Stocks

Status and trends of anadromous salmonids in the coastal zone.

Jack E. Williams (Bureau of Land Management, Intermountain Research Station, 316 E. Myrtle, Boise, Idaho 83702; 208/364-4376)

Anadromous salmonids are declining throughout their range, but the trends are not homogeneous along the coast. Declines of anadromous salmonids appear to be greater in the southern latitudes than in the northern portions of the range. In coastal zones, stocks of coho salmon, steelhead trout, and sea-run cutthroat exhibit widespread losses in California and Oregon, with lesser problems to the north. Many factors contribute to this trend. Degradation of freshwater habitats is common all along coastal areas outside of Alaska. Coastal morphology is more complex north of Puget Sound because of numerous bays and islands, which favor anadromous salmonid production. Ocean productivity, which is cyclic north to south along the coast, has been more favorable during eecent years off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska than farther south. Overharvest and negative interactions with nonnative fishes introduced from hatcheries or other means also contribute to the declines. It is important to examine all of these factors in the context of dynamic and variable environments that characterize the coastal zones. Dams and hydropower operations, which are often cited as a primary factor in the decline of salmon and steelhead, are more of a concern for big river systems and are less of a problem for coastal stocks. Although less well known than other anadromous salmonids, sea-run cutthroat trout are good indicators of the health of coastal watersheds, and as such, deserve more recognition from fishery, resource management, and conservation groups.

Status of sea-run cutthroat trout in California.

Eric R. Gerstung (California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090; 916/653-6194)

Sea-run and resident coastal cutthroat trout are restricted in California to a narrow coastal strip ranging from 5 to 20 miles wide extending 90 miles northward from the Eel River delta. To date this subspecies has been observed in 163 streams with at least 700 miles of suitable habitat and four coastal lagoons with 3,700 acres of occupied habitat. Although cutthroat trout are commonly observed in the salt and brackish waters of northern California coastal estuaries and lagoons, little is known regarding their use of ocean waters or their migratory habits. We suspect, however, that many if not most of the larger cutthroat trout observed in the Smith River drainage, particularly those in the two to four pound range, spend part of their life cycle in the ocean.

Angling effort for the cutthroat trout in California is largely focused on coastal lagoons and the Smith River drainage. Angling surveys conducted on the Smith River during the early 1980’s produced annual catch estimates of about 2,000 cutthroat trout. Annual diving surveys of the river and its forks since 1988 revealed an average population of about 1,000 cutthroat, or 20 trout per mile. Approximately half of these trout exceeded a length of 12 inches.

Most coastal stream and estuarine habitats of coastal cutthroat trout, particularly those on private land, have been moderately degraded by siltation and loss of cover and pool habitat from logging, failing roads, agricultural development, and channelization for flood control. Approximately 60 percent of the occupied stream mileage is on private land. Management efforts in California have been limited to population inventories, periodic stocking of coastal lagoons, and habitat protection. Coastal cutthroat trout abundance is low in most waters, particularly where juvenile
steelhead are present. The California Department of Fish and Game has classified this subspecies as a “Species of Special Concern”.

Status of sea-run cutthroat trout in Oregon.

Bob Hooton (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fish Division, P.O. Box 59, Portland, OR 97207 503/229-5410)

Anadromous cutthroat trout are believed to be present in all Oregon coastal and lower Columbia River streams that do not have upstream passage barriers in their lower reaches. However, lack of inventory data generally precludes quantitative assessment of the status of most sea-run and resident cutthroat trout populations along the Oregon coast.

Annual counts of fish over Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua River provide the best long-term source of information that we have for any sea-run cutthroat trout population in Oregon. These data indicate a serious decline in that population. From 1946 to 1956, counts of sea-run cutthroat trout over Winchester Dam averaged about 950 adult fish per year and ranged from 400 to 1,800 fish. Anecdotal reports suggest that runs may have been significantly higher prior to this period. By 1960, the wild run over Winchester Dam had declined to fewer than 100 fish. Wild populations have remained low and have exceeded a total count of 100 fish only twice since 1980. Wild cutthroat trout are now considered near extinction, with a run of only 29 fish recorded in 1993. No sea-run cutthroat returned to spawn above Winchester Dam in 1992 and 1994.

Recent creel surveys in two other coastal basins, the Alsea and Siuslaw, indicate that a substantial decline in the abundance of anadromous cutthroat has occurred in other areas. Catches of anadromous cutthroat in the 1990’s are less than 10% of catches in the late 1960’s in both the Alsea and Siuslaw basins. Comparable declines are not apparent in the resident cutthroat populations in these two basins.

The abundance of sea-run cutthroat trout in the lower Columbia River Basin also appears to have significantly declined in recent years. Although these populations are not routinely monitored, angler surveys conducted in the lower mainstem Columbia during the 1970’s typically showed annual catches of up to 5,000 fish. Similar data in the late 1980’s estimate the annual catch as low as 500 fish.

Potential causative factors include: a significant decline of near-ocean productivity since the mid-1970’s, genetic and fishery consequences of widespread use of hatchery sea-run cutthroat trout throughout Oregon coastal and lower Columbia River streams, and reduction of stream and estuary habitat complexity. Proposed recovery actions include more restrictive angling regulations and termination of hatchery stocking programs.

Status of the sea-run cutthroat trout in Washington.

Steven Leider (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kalama Research Station, 804 Allen Street, Suite 3, Kelso, WA, 98626; 360/577-0197)

Washington’s unique geological history has provided a diversity of environmental and ecological contexts for the evolution of anadromous coastal cutthroat trout stocks. Stocks reflecting this diversity occur in tributaries of the lower Columbia River, coastal streams, including those with large estuaries, and streams entering the extensive inland marine areas of
Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Sea-run cutthroat are widespread in lower elevation, low gradient streams in Washington downstream of barriers to adult migration. Many populations spawn in small streams with direct access to the marine environment, whereas others spawn in tributaries of large stream networks.

Limited information is available on the status of sea- run cutthroat in Washington. Data resources include trap or rack counts, creel surveys, electroshocking surveys, and standardized hook-and-line sampling. Regardless of the source, long-term databases for this species are few, making stock status and trend analyses difficult. Preliminary information suggests stocks in eastern Puget Sound (especially those in northern streams) are healthy. The status of Hood Canal, Strait of Juan de Fuca, coastal, Gray’s Harbor, and Willapa Bay stocks is not clear, but is likely to be somewhat depressed in some streams and healthy in others. It is believed that the status of Columbia River stocks has seriously declined.

Absence of information on escapement or total harvest has precluded application of traditional approaches used for salmon and steelhead harvest management. Instead, fishery regulations for sea-run cutthroat are intended to protect outmigrating smolts and to ensure that adults are able to spawn at least once. Management strategies have generally not incorporated extensive releases of hatchery fish, with the possible exception of current harvest augmentation programs in the lower Columbia River and Gray’s Harbor. Recent hatchery programs for sea-run cutthroat in Hood Canal and South Puget Sound are no longer operational. Where hatchery cutthroat programs exist, the fish receive fin marks and Wild Cutthroat Release regulations are applied, which allow harvest of hatchery cutthroat while protecting their wild counterparts.

A stock assessment process has recently been initiated for coastal cutthroat in Washington. Activities include an assessment of genetic diversity and preparation of a stock status inventory similar to that completed in 1992 for salmon and steelhead. Consistent with the intent of the State and treaty Indian tribes’ evolving draft Wild Salmonid Policy, these activities should bolster the foundation upon which improved stock maintenance, management, monitoring, and recovery strategies can be applied.

Status of anadromous cutthroat trout in British Columbia.

Tim L. Slaney (Aquatic Resources Limited, 9010 Oak St., Vancouver, B.C., V6P 4B9; 604/266-1113)

This paper summarises the cutthroat trout component of a review of anadromous salmonid stock status in British Columbia and Yukon streams that was performed for the North Pacific International Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Information was collated from agency data bases as well as file records in local offices. Once an initial data base was completed, additional information was collected by circulating the data base among fisheries managers, members of the North Pacific International Chapter, and other interested people throughout the province.

A total of 612 anadromous cutthroat stocks was identified. Stock status information was unavailable for 492 of the stocks. Among the remaining 120, 16 stocks appeared to be at high risk of extinction, 5 at moderate risk, and 30 of special concern. An additional 15 extinct cutthroat stocks were recorded. Potential threats to anadromous salmonid stocks were identified, although it was not possible to assign causes for many of the stocks at risk.

Status of sea-run cutthroat stocks in Alaska.

Artwin E. Schmidt (Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 304 Lake Street, Room 103, Sitka, AK 99835; 907/747-5355)

Populations of sea-run coastal cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki, occur in streams and lakes along the coastal range in southeast Alaska and northward into Prince William Sound. Cutthroat are more abundant in the southern part of southeast Alaska, which has more accessible lakes and large rivers for anadromous fish, and are less abundant along the north Gulf Coast. Sea-run cutthroat typically winter in lakes, and mature fish leave in the early spring after ice breakup and migrate to spawning streams. Smolt usually leave later than the mature fish, and their subsequent movements are largely unknown.

Research conducted on sea-run cutthroat is limited but indicates that overwintering populations rarely exceed 2,000 individuals and more commonly number only a few hundred trout. Populations of cutthroat from several spawning and rearing streams winter in a nearby accessible lake, so population size from an individual spawning and rearing stream is much smaller. Population indices over time are available for only two wintering lakes in southeast Alaska, and in both instances these indices are higher now than in earlier years. Lake Eva near Sitka had an average emigration of 1,337 cutthroat from 1962-1964, while 2,556 cutthroat emigrated in 1995. The average emigration of wild stock cutthroat from Auke Lake near Juneau was only 215 fish from 1980-1994 with a record high count of 422 in 1994.

SESSION 3 – Case Study of a Stock in Decline: Oregon’s Umpqua River

Biological status review of Umpqua River sea-run cutthroat trout.

Orlay Johnson (National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Blvd. E., Seattle, WA 98112-2097; 206/860-3253)

In April 1993, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) received a petition to list sea-run cutthroat trout from the North and South Umpqua Rivers in Oregon as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This presentation summarizes scientific information gathered by a Biological Review Team (BRT) that conducted a status review of these cutthroat trout for the NMFS. The review focused on two key questions: Do Umpqua River sea-run cutthroat trout represent a species as defined by the ESA? and, if so, Is the species threatened or endangered? NMFS policy is that a population will be considered a species for purposes of the ESA if it represents an evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) of the species as a whole. To be considered an ESU, a population must 1) be reproductively isolated from other populations, and 2) contribute to ecological/genetic diversity of the biological species.

Issues addressed for the first criterion included the relationship between anadromous and resident life-history forms and whether the species in the Umpqua River was reproductively isolated from cutthroat trout in other coastal drainages. No relevant genetic or tagging data were available to directly address these issues, but the preponderance of indirect information suggested that all life history forms of the species should be grouped into the same ESU, and that, as a group, O. clarki in the Umpqua River satisfy the ESU criterion of substantial reproductive isolation from other conspecific populations.

Factors considered for the second ESU criterion of ecological/genetic diversity included distinctive physical and environmental features of the Umpqua River drainage, lengthy freshwater migration for the anadromous form, distinctive run times of sea-run fish, and possible adaptations for dealing with high water temperatures. Other factors relating to ecological/genetic diversity, such as shifts in run-timing associated with supplementation by Alsea River hatchery fish, were more difficult to evaluate because of the lack of information.

The precarious status of sea-run cutthroat trout in the Umpqua River was well documented by the BRT, but the evidence was inconclusive as to the evolutionary heritage of these fish. There was also strong evidence from other species that nonanadromous salmonids originating in an anadromous population should be considered part of the same genetic group. Biological data on the status of nonanadromous cutthroat trout within the Umpqua River were very sparse. Still, the BRT determined that, even if the nonanadromous fish were found to be healthy, the risk of losing the anadromous form would be an ESA concern, as the trait has a genetic basis and contributes substantially to ecological/genetic diversity of the entire ESU.

Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout: Review of natural and human-caused factors of decline.

John F. Palmisano (John Palmisano Biological Consultants, 1990 NW 156th Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97006; 503/645-5676)

Sea-run cutthroat trout have complex life histories and require freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats to complete their life cycles. Accordingly, factors outside the freshwater environment can significantly influence the species’ abundance. The physical environment and aquatic communities in the Umpqua River basin have been greatly altered by human activities. These activities and natural factors within the region are believed responsible for the decline and lack of recovery of the Umpqua’s population of sea-run cutthroat trout. Human activities include: development and use of water and land resources, physical and biological alterations of the Umpqua estuary, construction and operational impacts of the North Umpqua hydroelectric projects, releases of millions of hatchery-produced salmonids, stream removal of large woody debris, sport fishing pressure, and increased predation and competition from exotic freshwater and anadromous fish species and from increases in abundance of protected populations of marine mammals and seabirds. Natural factors include: the species’ presence near the southern limit of its range; Oregon’s relative paucity of estuarine and protected coastal habitat; and recent climatic alterations that include nearly a decade of drought conditions, weak coastal upwelling, increases in sea-surface temperatures, and resultant declines in ocean productivity. Recent studies indicate that resident populations of Umpqua cutthroat trout are well distributed and abundant within the limitation of available habitat. This suggests that estuarine and ocean conditions could be largely responsible for declines in sea-run populations. Because climatic conditions are cyclic, population abundance of sea-run cutthroat trout could increase once these conditions improve.

Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout recovery plan: Management activities within the shadow of obscurity.

David W. Loomis (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 4192 North Umpqua Highway, Roseburg, OR 97470; 503/440-3353)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for managing all fish populations in Oregon. The Department’s mission statement directs fisheries biologists to protect and enhance numerous species for the use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The abundance of the North Umpqua sea-run cutthroat population has been documented since 1946. The estimated counts of wild migratory cutthroat have declined from near 1,000 in 1946-1956 to less than 100 in most years since 1979. Several management strategies have been applied to this population for the past 50 years, and the present “sensitive” status of this population warrants a vigorous recovery plan. However, current understanding of the overall status of coastal cutthroat in the Umpqua basin is very poor, especially compared to other salmonid populations. This fact, combined with the cutthroat trout’s very complex and variable life history, has resulted in few activities being directed toward sea-run cutthroat.

Objectives of the ODFW North Umpqua Fish Management Plan (1986) for cutthroat trout are: 1) manage for wild fish only, unless the run cannot sustain itself, 2) determine the cause for the current depressed state of migratory wild cutthroat, and 3) increase the run to more normal levels. In 1992, a draft recovery plan was developed to focus short- and long-term habitat restoration and protection strategies on Umpqua cutthroat, revise management strategies to reduce risks of hatchery trout releases to wild cutthroat, further reduce harvest of migratory cutthroat, and identify research needs to successfully rebuild this population to a viable level. Several activities in cooperation with numerous private and public entities have resulted in valuable information regarding available aquatic habitat, preferred habitat use, migratory behavior, abundance and distribution, genetic sampling, limiting factor analysis, and experimental habitat restoration projects.

Restoration strategies for the Umpqua Basin.

Willa Nehlsen (Pacific Rivers Council, 921 SW Morrison #531, Portland, Oregon 97205; 503-294-0786)

Sea-run cutthroat trout historically occurred in both the South and North Umpqua Rivers, as well as Smith River. There is very little information on the current distribution and abundance of sea-run cutthroat, or on population trends. Long-term data on abundance trends are available for only one location, Winchester Dam near the mouth of the North Umpqua River. In its status review, NMFS pointed out that this lack of information is a serious impediment to conservation and management of coastal cutthroat trout. With so little information available, how can a freshwater habitat restoration strategy be crafted?

One could argue that in the face of such limited information, the most sensible strategy is based on an ecosystem approach. Such an approach would aim to protect and restore conditions characterized by rates and patterns of ecosystem processes and elements that are conducive to survival of cutthroat and other native fishes. The initial focus would be on relatively intact ecosystems and currently productive areas (the key watersheds, aquatic diversity areas, and source areas), with a restoration strategy building outward from these anchors. It could be argued that such a strategy would likely benefit not only sea-run cutthroat, but also other salmonids.

If such a strategy were applied to the Umpqua Basin, what would it look like? Would it actually address the freshwater habitat conditions that limit sea-run cutthroat? Other species? This paper will consider these questions.

SESSION 6 – Restoration and Recovery

Where are we coming from? A historic perspective on sea-run cutthroat trout.

Phillip W. Schneider (8755 SW Woodside Road, Portland, OR 97225; 503/292-2759)

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the fishery for sea-run cutthroat trout was more significant than those for salmon and steelhead on the Oregon coast. The fish were abundant and highly sought after. In particular, there was a very substantial fishery in Ten Mile Lakes during the hatch of the Hexagenia mayfly, and marina owners in the Siuslaw, Alsea, and Siletz tidewaters widely advertized the successful fishery. After World War II, populations began to decline, at least partly owing to increased logging that affected habitat in streams favored by the cutthroat. The agency response to decline was to develop hatchery programs for the trout, a nationwide pattern at the time. The hatchery system as we know it today in Oregon began with the rearing of cutthroat trout. Events and conditions that have prevented restoration of the cutthroat trout and that have led to its current depressed condition will be discussed.

The role of land management: Past, present, and future.

Gordon H. Reeves (U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331; 503/750-7314)

Relatively few studies of the impact of land- management activities on anadromous salmonids and their freshwater habitat have considered sea-run cutthroat trout. Those that have considered them have generally found that sea-run cutthroat trout are susceptible to the effects of land-management activities. Numbers of cutthroat trout juveniles and smolts have declined following land-management activities such as timber harvest. It appears that numbers remain depressed for extended periods following such disturbances, for reasons that are not clear. We offer a possible explanation: changes in the features of pools, such as depth and habitat complexity, may reduce suitability of the habitat. This could reduce survival by (1) reducing the carrying capacity of the stream, or (2) forcing juvenile cutthroat trout to compete with other species, such as coho salmon. Sea-run cutthroat trout may be the “canary in the coal mine” with respect to integrity of aquatic ecosystems in coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. The impacts of land-management and other activities that may affect the freshwater habitat of sea-run cutthroat trout need to be studied more closely in the future.

A review of fish habitat improvement projects in British Columbia: Do we know enough to do the right thing?

Ron A. Ptolemy (British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, Fisheries Branch, 780 Blanshard Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X5 604/387-9582)

Cataloguing of fish habitat improvement projects conducted in British Columbia has only recently occurred despite over two decades of attempts. The results of a two-stage questionnaire completed by fisheries staff were examined for patterns and correlates to success rate. The objectives of this study were to determine under what environmental conditions various habitat improvement structures are appropriate (fluvial, riparian, and watershed setting) and specifications of structure design. Fisheries and habitat managers in British Columbia and elsewhere do not have a sound manual of engineering practice that would include environmental variables to consider in locating or designing sustainable fish habitat. There is the continued threat of repeating expensive failures and endangering fish populations. Personal insight suggests that our enhancements have not sufficiently integrated fish ecology, river engineering, riparian and watershed assessment, and fluvial geomorphology. Average performance to date has been near 50% success, with highest failure rates associated with boulder, boulder group, or debris catchers.

Examples of successful restoration measures and failures are described. Recent experiences using large woody debris suggest our most useful design standards for emulation are those that mimic nature. This approach relies on understanding and quantifying stable high quality habitats. Satisfying results can be achieved quickly with good planning and the power of a significant flood event. Future guidelines for the installation of fish habitat improvement structures should involve a thorough description of key inventory measures. There are sufficient field clues, if we are sensitive to them, that can be used to formulate rules guiding habitat creation. The answer to the paper’s title is a qualified yes.

Instream habitat enhancement in Oregon: Do we know enough to do the right thing?

Mario F. Solazzi, Thomas E. Nickelson, and Steven L. Johnson (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Research and Development Section, 850 SW 15th St., Corvallis, Oregon 97333; 503/737-7632)

In order to improve the freshwater habitat for juvenile cutthroat trout it is first necessary to identify the specific habitat requirements for these fish during each season of the year. During summer we found the highest numbers of juvenile cutthroat trout in beaver ponds and large dam pools that contained large amounts of woody debris. Plunge pools are also a favored habitat type during summer, as the fish hide behind the obstruction that causes the plunge. During
winter we found the largest number of cutthroat trout in beaver ponds (five times higher than in lateral scour pools, the next highest habitat type). Juvenile cutthroat trout are generally found at higher densities in slow velocity habitat types (beaver ponds and dam pools) than in higher velocity habitat types (riffles, rapids, and cascades) during both summer and winter. An evaluation of two habitat improvement projects designed to increase production of wild salmonids showed an increase in the number of cutthroat trout migrating downstream during the spring. In one case the number of cutthroat migrants was significantly greater in the treatment stream than in a nearby reference stream after the habitat modification was completed. In the other pair of streams the number of cutthroat migrants increased in both the treatment and reference streams. Habitat improvement projects designed to increase the abundance of juvenile cutthroat trout should therefore concentrate on building large dam and plunge pools and adding large amounts of woody debris for cover. Techniques to enhance beaver populations should be examined as a potential tool for increasing production of cutthroat trout and other salmonids. Although habitat enhancement projects are at best a short term solution, they can be a useful tool, if properly used, for helping to maintain life history variation in areas where the population size is depressed due to poor habitat conditions.

What is the role for hatchery programs? The Stone Lagoon experience.

Eric J. Loudenslager (Department of Fisheries, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA. 95521; 707/826-3445)

Stocking fish into the wild is an increasingly controversial fisheries management tool. During 1994 the American Fisheries Society hosted meetings to search for guidelines acceptable to different groups. These meetings affirmed that cultured fish will continue to be an important management tool. However, program design should meet environmental standards by employing practices that do not jeopardize the aquatic community. Rejecting the use of cultured fish when ecosystems will not support self-sustaining populations may lead to loss of angling opportunities. The coastal cutthroat program at Stone Lagoon in Humboldt County is such a case. Stone Lagoon has been stocked with salmonids since 1930. In 1987 HSU Fisheries staff developed a coastal cutthroat broodstock to convert from steelhead to coastal cutthroat stocking. Smolts were stocked into
the lagoon in May of 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993. Smolts stocked at approximately 200 mm in May reached an average of 360 mm when trapped on McDonald Creek in February, providing exciting fishing in October, November, and December. After the cutthroat program began, local angling groups successfully convinced the Departments of Fish and Game and State Parks to discontinue stocking, believing that spawning and juvenile rearing in the tributary streams was adequate to provide recruits to the fishery. Recent sampling found few salmonids and angling is poor. Ongoing stocking will probably be required to maintain a recreational fishery.

The role of special angling regulations in maintaining and rebuilding populations of sea-run cutthroat trout.

Roger D. Harding (Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish, P.O. Box 240020, Douglas, AK 99824; 907/465-4311) and Robert E. Gresswell (U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Lab, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331)

As a group, sea-run cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) stand out among salmonids as one of the most susceptible to capture by angling and, therefore, are among the most vulnerable to overharvest. Special angling regulations include creel (number) limits, size limits, and terminal gear specifications that are used, either singly or in combination, to maintain or rebuild naturally reproducing populations of fish by preventing or restricting harvest. Harvest restrictions for anadromous cutthroat trout are often incorporated in more general “trout regulations”, but stipulations that are specific to this group have been implemented in some areas. Size limits in conjunction with a reduced creel have been successful in diminishing the effects of angler harvest provided that 1) size structure of the population, both current and historical, and size distribution of angler-captured fish are monitored closely, and 2) mortality associated with hooking and handling is minimal. Mortality rates of cutthroat trout caught with bait range from 30-50%, and therefore, any regulations requiring the release of some fish should incorporate bait exclusion. Sea-run cutthroat trout have developed diverse life-histories including complex migratory patterns, and sport-fishing regulations designed to limit harvest must protect this group throughout all its life stages. Biological parameters necessary to implement effective cutthroat trout regulations include 1) size and age at maturity, 2) growth rates, 3) age and length structure, and 4) migratory behavior. Studies on other subspecies of cutthroat trout suggest a positive response to catch-and-release-only (no harvest) and various size regulations (with no bait); however, depressed populations generally do not respond to reduced creel limits alone.

The role of federal, state, and private entities in the recovery of anadromous salmonids.

Jim Lynch (National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental and Technical Services Division, 525 NE Oregon St. – Suite 500, Portland, Oregon 97232; 503/230-5422)

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed listing Umpqua River cutthroat trout as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Further, NMFS has proposed listing Klamath Mountains Province steelhead and three evolutionary significant units (ESUs) of coho as “threatened” under the ESA. The NMFS is presently reviewing the coastwide status of steelhead, pink, chum, sockeye, and chinook salmon, and cutthroat trout. The NMFS expects to announce its conclusions regarding these Pacific salmon and trout species in the near future.

The recovery of Pacific salmon stocks depends upon the concerted efforts of all levels of government and the public. Salmon conservation cannot nor will not be accomplished through the efforts of the Federal government alone, or any other level of government. Many Federal agencies, regional entities, tribal authorities, and state and local governments currently play a role in salmon protection, restoration, and enhancement. The NMFS, and other Federal agencies in the region, are working cooperatively with For the Sake of the Salmon, a regional entity created to support and coordinate efforts to protect, restore, and sustain coastal salmon. For the Sake of the Salmon is a good example of how the region can work together to achieve effective local solutions for protecting and restoring coastal salmon stocks.

A comprehensive coastal conservation strategy addressing both public and private lands is imperative for the recovery of Pacific salmon stocks. The ultimate goal of a coastal conservation strategy must be to stabilize and rebuild all west coast Pacific salmon species. Public and private initiatives to rebuild stocks exist throughout the region. An effective coastal strategy must focus on regional cooperation and build on these local and state efforts, enlist the
support of stakeholders, and reduce the government layers to streamline implementation. The protection and restoration of coastal salmon stocks is a regional problem to which the region is responding.

The role of organized angling groups in recovery of cutthroat trout.

Dave Schorsch (Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout Coalition, 18108 53rd St. Court E., Sumner, WA 98390; 206/863-3717)
Joseph Jauquet (South Sound Flyfishers, 1121 Jackson Ave. NW, Olympia, WA 98502; 360/754-8108)

Volunteer angling groups have recognized the long-term decline of sea-run cutthroat trout (SRC) stocks, and are acting to reverse this trend. Initially, volunteers influenced management agencies and planning councils to recognize the SRC as a unique species needing a separate management and restoration plan. Diverse advocates unified their efforts and formed the SRC Coalition in 1984. Volunteers started numerous local and regional cooperative projects in Washington State, emphasizing
wild fish and seeking to restore the SRC fishery and to establish self-sustaining populations of SRC. Selected projects are described, including: fin clipping, public testimony, regulations change, public education, population and habitat measurement, non-lethal tissue sampling, angler creel surveys, angler data books, and bibliography construction. Major themes of the work of angling groups are wild fish management, close relationships with resource managers, regulatory
protection of existing stocks, and multi-year population and habitat studies. Lessons learned are described and recommendations offered for development of a volunteer network to share successful techniques for SRC management, regulation, and data collection.


Influence of stream characteristics and age-class interactions on populations of coastal cutthroat trout.

Patrick J. Connolly (Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3803; 503/737-1950)

Populations of resident cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) were sampled in nine basalt and seven sandstone headwater streams of the central Coast Range of Oregon. Biomass of age 1+ or older cutthroat trout was higher in streams with less shading by conifers, with more large woody debris (LWD) in the stream channel, and with basalt substrate. These three habitat variables explained 74% of the variation in biomass. Age 1+ and older cutthroat trout were more often found
in pools than in any other habitat type, especially in sandstone streams. The frequency of pools was directly related to the frequency of LWD in the stream channel. Because sandstone streams have smaller substrate and lower base flows than basalt streams, populations of cutthroat trout in small sandstone streams may be particularly vulnerable to disturbances that reduce the number of pools.

To investigate whether intraspecific interaction was an important factor in regulating the use of pools by young-of-year cutthroat trout, I analyzed data from 239 pools within the 16 streams. The biomass of young-of-year was directly related to stream gradient and inversely related to the biomass of age 1+ or older cutthroat trout. Interactions between young-of-year and older age classes may be particularly important in small sandstone streams because drought can reduce flow in
these streams to a point where the only habitat remaining is in residual pools.

Genetic relationships of cutthroat trout residing within two coastal basins.

Kitty Griswold (Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-3803 and U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Lab, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331; 503/750-7385)

The genetic relationships of resident and anadromous coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) residing above and below barriers within two basins were assessed with protein electrophoresis. Trout from Vixen Inlet in southeast Alaska and Elk River in southern Oregon were characterized by high levels of genetic variation within populations as measured by heterozygosity (average heterozygosity ranged from 0.039-0.066). In Vixen Inlet, measures of genetic variation among populations was low (Fst=0.018), suggesting that there is little divergence among these groups. Elk River populations showed high levels of genetic variation among the populations sampled (Fst=0.089), suggesting that there is some degree of isolation in
this watershed. Coastal cutthroat trout in China Creek, a tributary to the mainstem of the Elk River, are isolated above a barrier to upstream migration of adult anadromous fish and are genetically differentiated from all other Elk River populations. This suggests that there is little gene flow between China Creek populations and other Elk River populations. Populations above and below barriers in Anvil Creek are genetically similar to one another and are differentiated from all other Elk River populations. This pattern suggests that there is some exchange among populations above and below the barrier on Anvil Creek and that there is little exchange among the Anvil Creek populations and other Elk River populations. These results highlight the varying patterns in genetic variation that can be detected within basins by protein electrophoresis. They also suggest that the relation between groups above and below barriers depends on local conditions.

Water quality concerns in restoration of stream habitat in the Umpqua basin.

Mark Powell (Colliding Rivers Research, Inc., P.O. Box 1751, Corvallis, OR 97339; 503/752-9878)

A public/private cooperative monitoring program has revealed widespread but previously unknown water quality problems in Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout habitat. Many streams in the North and South Umpqua basins have high pH and large daily pH cycles. These pH conditions are caused by the metabolism of large blooms of attached algae and can be harmful to fish. Statistical analysis of pH and land use data from 26 streams draining more than 200,000 acres in the Umpqua basin shows significant correlations between maximum pH and ecosystem changes caused by logging. Thus, pH monitoring in these Umpqua streams provides a useful indication of some important aquatic ecosystem conditions.

These water quality problems highlight significant restoration concerns that are often neglected. For example, the instream structures and erosion control that are the focus of many projects will not provide maximum benefit in streams where high pH indicates problems that are not being addressed. To help avoid incomplete and ineffective restoration work, stream habitat surveys and project planning should be integrated with broader evaluations of aquatic ecosystem health such as biomonitoring and water quality monitoring. For the Umpqua sea-run cutthroat trout, monitoring of stream pH provides some specific recommendations that could benefit ongoing restoration efforts.

Direct observation assessment of coastal cutthroat trout abundance and habitat utilization in the South Fork Smith River, California.

Hans N. Voight and Timothy R. Hayden (Fisheries Department and Institute for River Ecosystems, Humboldt State University, Arcata CA 95521; 707/826-3344)

We examined the seasonal variation in local abundance and habitat utilization of coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) in 3.02 km of tributary and 3.05 km of mainstem river in the South Fork Basin of the Smith River, Del Norte County, CA. Coastal cutthroat trout are currently the least studied and least understood salmonid in terms of life history strategies in the Smith River system. Eight downstream snorkel surveys were made between May and September 1995, counting adult cutthroat trout in two size classes (“small” = <30 cm, “large” = >30 cm) within discrete pool and fast water habitat units along both reaches. On Hurdygurdy Creek, census counts ranged from a low of 17 fish in 3.02 km of stream to a high of 47 fish observed on 23 September, with intervening monthly fluctuations. Cutthroat trout became progressively more abundant within the South Fork reach. Abundances ranged from a low of 47 fish counted in 3.05 km on 10 June to a high of 142 fish present on 24 September. On both the Hurdygurdy Creek and the South Fork reaches, “small” cutthroat remained more numerous than “large” cutthroat throughout the study. Fast water habitat units comprised 70% of stream length on Hurdygurdy Creek, and 32% on the South Fork reach. The percentage of cutthroat trout using fast water (FW) was calculated for each size class for dives on each reach. “Large” cutthroat trout in Hurdygurdy Creek predominantly utilized pool habitat throughout the study (FW = 11%, n = 53), while “small” fish were less predictable in their habitat usage (FW = 47%, n = 159). On the South Fork reach, the same proportion of large fish (11%, n = 192) were found to reside in fast water units, yet only 21% of small cutthroat trout (n = 401) were observed in fast water. Trends of tributary and mainstem population abundances and diver observations suggested at least three different life history strategies being utilized by South Fork Basin cutthroat trout, including resident, potamodromous stream dwelling, and anadromous.

Population structure of coastal cutthroat trout in the Muck Creek basin, Washington.

Christian E. Zimmerman (Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3803 and U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Lab, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331; 503/750-7314)

The population structure of coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) in Muck Creek, a 239 km2 watershed in the southern Puget Sound region of western Washington, was examined through analysis of allozymes and meristics. Trout were collected from six areas of the watershed representing tributaries, significant portions of the mainstem, and a lake. Four sites contained only resident phenotypes, the lower mainstem contained both resident and migratory phenotypes, and Chambers Lake contained only migratory phenotypes, based on size, appearance, and otolith growth patterns.

Patterns of allelic and meristic variation suggest a significant structuring and separation of populations of coastal cutthroat trout in the basin. Two patterns of structuring were delineated by both genetic and meristic analysis. The first pattern separated the Chambers Lake population from the other populations and suggests a significant separation between resident and migratory populations. The second pattern indicated separation between sites above Chambers Lake and sites below and including Chambers Lake.


Coastal cutthroat use of the Redwood Creek estuary, Redwood National Park, California.

David G. Anderson (Redwood National Park, P.O. Box 7, Orick, CA 95555; 707/488-2911)

The Redwood Creek estuary has suffered habitat loss and degradation due to land-use activities, flood control levees, and artificial breaching. Historically, the estuary was known for its cutthroat trout fishery. Redwood National Park has conducted estuary beach seining during the summer and fall months to monitor salmonid utilization. Though not found in large numbers as compared to juvenile chinook salmon and steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout are present annually and several age classes are represented. Statistical evaluation of electrophoretic data of this anadromous population appears to show that it is composed of a non-hybridized population. Though degraded, the estuary still serves as important cutthroat and salmonid habitat.

Low-risk tissues for characterization of allozymes in coastal cutthroat trout.

Bruce Baker (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091; 360/902-2764) [presenter]
Kitty Griswold (Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331 and U.S. Forest Service, PNW Research Lab, 3200 Jefferson Way,
Corvallis, OR 97331; 503/750-7385)

Concern has arisen over lethal sampling to collect genetic data via protein electrophoresis from populations at risk. We examined the feasibility of using fin clip tissue, which can be sampled without killing the fish. Fin clip tissue from cutthroat, steelhead, and bull trout was screened alongside eye, heart, liver, and muscle tissue to obtain as many enzyme-coding loci as possible. Thirty-three out of the 60 loci scored in the body tissues were resolved in the fin samples from cutthroat and steelhead trout. To test the utility of fin clip data, we analyzed an existing data set for coastal cutthroat (Elk River, Oregon) in two ways. One included 41 loci obtained by screening muscle, heart, eye, and liver. The second included data from only the 23 loci identified as scorable in fin samples. Patterns of population interrelationships derived from the two data sets were nearly identical. Fin tissue may be a viable alternative when lethal sampling is not possible. Future research is needed to verify that fin clips are truly non-lethal and establish that genetic data from fin clips are reliable. Where possible, the use of fin clips should be evaluated against a more extensive baseline.

Coastal cutthroat trout bibliography project.

Joseph Jauquet (South Sound Fly Fishers, 1121 Jackson Ave. NW, Olympia WA 98502, 360/754-8108)

Published information on the anadromous coastal cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki clarki, can be found in many technical journals and in published and unpublished management reports. However, the literature is scattered within private, public, state, and federal libraries, making it difficult for biologists and managers to access. Biologists and managers need greater access to a central database of coastal cutthroat reference materials helpful to their understanding and management of coastal cutthroat trout populations. We used an IBM microcomputer and bibliography software to compile coastal cutthroat literature into a database, using electronic and hand search methods to collect reference materials from library catalogs and abstracts. We are actively seeking unpublished “gray” literature from biologists and managers of coastal cutthroat research, in-house reports, and meeting presentations. We are evaluating our database, using 25 citations to refine key words, abstracts, and citation format. We are producing an annotated bibliography on disk files and maintaining a computer and hard copy literature library. In 1996 we intend to distribute a bibliographic database to libraries and public agencies for use in the public domain. We provide an overview of the project and a preliminary format for the database citation and discuss the benefits of this product.

Restoration of a channelized salmonid stream, Oullette Creek, BC.

David Bates,1,2 Grant McBain,3 and Robert Newbury4,5

1 Fisheries Science, Capilano College, P.O. Box 1609, Sechelt, BC, V0N 3A0; 604/885-9310
2 Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
3 Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Madeira Park, BC
4 Newbury Hydraulics Ltd., Gibsons, BC
5 School of Resource Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC

Oullette Creek, a second-order coastal stream, is located on the Sechelt Peninsula approximately 20 km from Vancouver, BC. This stream, which once supported thriving populations of anadromous salmonids, was relocated and channelized in 1978, resulting in major changes in stream geometry affecting fish habitat. In 1993 and 1994 detailed biophysical inventories were conducted on the lower reach of Oullette Creek. These inventories were followed by redesign and restoration of fish habitat. The primary goal of the restoration was to restore the natural pool and riffle ratio with instream rock weirs built to duplicate natural riffles and pools. The result has been the collection of spawning gravel on the upstream edge of riffles and increased areas in pools for rearing. The natural geometry of a stream of this size in this region was used to set the design width, depth, substrate size, and final pool/riffle sequencing. Basic stream characteristics of bank-full width, depth, and discharge were established by surveying a series of reaches in different tributaries in the project stream and similar drainage basins located nearby. In 1995 after the first phase of the restoration was completed, a third biophysical inventory was conducted on Oullette Creek. Preliminary results indicate that the restored areas are stabilizing, providing a significant increase in rearing habitat for both coho salmon and cutthroat trout.

Seasonal and diel response to habitat complexity by an allopatric population of coastal cutthroat trout.

James A. Simondet (U.S. Forest Service, Redwood Sciences Laboratory, 1700 Bayview Drive, Arcata, CA 95521; 707/822-3691)

In contrast to salmonids in other systems, censuses indicate cutthroat trout density in Little Jones Creek, a tributary of the middle fork Smith River, California, is not significantly related to the presence of large woody debris. In this study, I further tested the relationship between cutthroat trout density and habitat complexity with a field experiment using pools as experimental units. Using a variety of structures, I enhanced the complexity of six of twelve pools that initially contained no large substrate elements and few microhabitats that provided cover for fish. I then removed pool inhabitants from each experimental unit, and added fish from elsewhere in the study reach to approximately double natural fish densities. I observed fish over six weeks in summer and winter during day and night. During winter, approximately 2.5X more fish were observed at night than in the day. Cutthroat trout did not respond to differences in habitat
complexity. In both summer and winter, fish densities rapidly returned to natural densities in both types of pools. Large wood appears to benefit cutthroat trout in Little Jones Creek by increasing pool frequency, but simple and complex pools appear similarly valuable.

The abundance and size of sea-run versus resident cutthroat trout in Lake Eva, southeast Alaska.

Richard Yanusz (Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Division of Sport Fish, P.O. Box 240020, Douglas, AK 99824-0020; 907/465-4398)

All cutthroat trout exiting and entering the Lake Eva system (Baranof Island, southeast Alaska) between April 14 and July 30, 1995 were counted, measured, and tagged at a weir on the lake’s outlet. Fish passing through the weir were defined as sea-run, and 2,562 sea-run cutthroat trout exited the system, with 90% of the run between May 2 and June 25, and 50% of the run completed on May 19. The average fork length of all sea-run trout was 303 mm, with weekly average length decreasing steadily from 348 mm to 195 mm as the run progressed. Sea-run cutthroat trout began returning to the system on June 10, and 94% of the 178 fish that returned by July 30 had been previously tagged. Cutthroat trout present in Lake Eva during July were defined as resident, and a two-event mark-recapture method was used to estimate that 1,900±232 resident fish were present and had an average fork length of 236 mm.