Westside Westslopes

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Greg Armstrong, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. There's a particular stream I like to fish every year on the westside of the Cascades. The fish are all beautiful, and usually small. Beautifully proportioned fat little rainbows is what I usually find there. Every now and then, I'll catch a westslope cutthroat in there and although they're not large either, they usually end up being the biggest fish of the day. I surmise they make their way downstream from some high lake way up in the watershed that was planted with them sometime in the past. I drove up there yesterday and caught 'bows, but didn't find any of the elusive westlope cutthroats. Maybe when the flows drop I'll find one or two. It's still high with runoff.
    I find westslopes on the westside to be a rarity. Is this the case for the rest of you?
    Gary Knowels and Kent Lufkin like this.
  2. S. fork of the snoqualmie has a fair amount up high
  3. As you noted above, westslopes are not native to the western slopes of the Cascades. Coastal cutthroat are and, since they are present in most westward draining streams and rivers and, since WDFW no longer plants westslopes (known in the day as Montana Blackspots) in lakes draining to the west side, I would think (and hope) that hybridization would in time dilute their genetic material to the vanishing point.
    Kent Lufkin and Gary Knowels like this.
  4. I completely agree. However I continue to be surprised at how often different species present in the same fishery do NOT hybridize. Look no further than WDFW's own "Snoqualmie River Game Fish Enhancement Plan" (Thompson, Whitney & Lamb) in which CCTs, WSCTs and RBs are repeatedly observed to be living quite literally alongside each other, yet have maintained genetic purity by not hybridizing, despite ample opportunity to do so.

    Gary Knowels likes this.

  5. Get plenty on the stream mentioned above that appear to be (note, I say *appear* to be) 100% bonafide westslopes. While I do get a fair share of what are clearly cuttbows up there, and some of what appear to be unadulterated rainbows, the number of westslope cutts that exhibit no signs of hybridization is pretty significant.
    Gary Knowels likes this.
  6. Thanks for the replies. I wasn't necessarily looking for names of westside streams that have westslope cutthroat in them, but rather was curious as to the frequency of them showing up (or not) while fishing on the west side of the Cascades. As an aside, the stream I originally referenced was not the SF Snoqualmie.
    I've also often wondered how coastal cutthroat have continued to remain naturally "pure strain" in western drainages that are also inhabited by rainbows (and sometimes Westslopes). Hybrids between the two are often found as an example in many of the "S" Rivers, but distinct populations of both coastal cutthroats and rainbows seem to co-exist naturally quite well. That brings up the question of the impacts of introduced westslopes into Coastal cutthroat watersheds and if the two were to hybridize, what would the offspring actually look like?

    Kent; Interesting info' on the study you mention. I'll have to look that up myself. What keeps them all separate is the question?

    BTW; Spent the last couple of days on a stream just over the Cascade crest catching lots of smaller, but also perfectly proportioned Westslope cutthroats. I'm always happy to visit it every few years and realize they're still in this favorite stream.

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