Bogachiel River: Baby Steelhead or Smoltz?

Hello, I went to the Bogachiel the other day and caught I think is either a baby Steelhead or a Smoltz? My question is, what is the differnce? It was about 12-14 inches long and was really silver and "Steelhead" looking, but smaller in size. My Fiance was flyfishing too, she was catching alot of what I think were brook trout? Light tan yellowish color with light brown dots. The green butt skunk seem to be the best out there. Technically I've never caught any "Steelhead" no bigger than this one. I'm hoping to catch the "normal" size steelhead of 8-15lb!

When most people say smolt, they generally mean a juvenile steelhead or salmon. Technically, a smolt is a juvenile salmon or steelhead that has "smolted" that is, undergone the transformation necessary to make the migration from fresh to saltwater. Simply put, they are juveniles on their way to the sea. Pre-smolt juveniles are called parr, and the tiny young of the year are generally referred to as fry.

the rainbows you were catching sound like smolts, particularly if they were quite silvery, and the scales had a tendency to sluff off in your hand. Twelve to 14 inches sounds a little on the large size, but not unheard of. There are a few resident rainbows in the system; where exactly were you fishing. Some searun cutts would be in the Bogey by now too. Not all searun cuttthroat have the telltale cutthroat orange "slash" on the underside of the gills, but one way to tell them is that they will be sliver-sided, peppered with fine to medium black spots allthe way down their flank to the belly. On most other trout species, the spots tend to fade away just below the lateral line.

The fish your fiance was catching sound like char, but not brrok trout. More than likely they were bull trout, or possibly dolly varden. Obviously your intent was innocent enough, but bull trout/dolly varden are listed as threatened under the ESA, and it is illegal to "target" them anywhere on the peninsula. Like I say, it doesn't sound like you were targeting them, but a game warden may not see it that way. Just a word to the wise.

Likewise (and again I'm not accusing or casting blame), most people try not to target juvenile steelhead or salmon. Our runs need every leg up they can get.


I live between the Bogachiel and Clawah and fish them often. No Char Dolly/bull trout in the Bogachiel system so dont worry you didnt catch any. There are some resident rainbows but they are not what you described. You have to get way high up in the drainage to find them in any numbers. They are heavily spottet and football shaped.

What you described was most likely smolt, and what your girlfriend caught were either sea run or resident cutthroat.
Ok, just developed my pics of the fish I caught out of the Bogy. Well its definately a cutthroat trout, red under the belly and all and spots starting from top to fading to bottom. Darn, I thought it was a steelhead out of the excitement! Well back to the drawing board. I going to the Cowlitz tomorrow, I hear the water is super low and clear. Going to try this General Practitioner Fly the guys at the Morning Hatch recommended. Will also try the greenbutted skunk.