A perplexing question...

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by RoyS, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. RoyS

    RoyS Member

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    Any history buffs among you bios out there???

    So… I have been informed that Rainbow Trout are an introduced species here in the west.

    And… I have been told that the Steelhead is an anadromous Rainbow Trout.

    If that is so, was there Steelhead here before Rainbow Trout were introduced by man and how did the Native Americans catch Steelhead before Europeans arrived if the Rainbow hadn’t yet been introduced?

    Or am I way off base on this.
     
  2. Evan Burck

    Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

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    Rainbow trout/stelhead are native to our rivers. But they've also been introduced to many landlocked pieces of water here, and all over the world.
     
  3. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    I once was a history guy, but I'm not that familiar with steelhead/rainbow trout history. I think that the steelhead species is native to Pacific Costal waters but has also been successfully planted in areas where it was not native. As such, some which would not go to sea would be native rainbow trout. Since they seem to naturalize well, they have been introduced in dozens of states where they were not native, and who knows how many lakes, streams, rivers and countries beyond that.
     
  4. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    Steelhead and rainbow trout are the same genus and species (Oncorhynchus mykiss). This species is native to the Pacific coast of North America (as well as parts of the eastern coast of northern Asia, notably the Kamchatka Peninsula). Except in the Columbia and Fraser River basins they were not native to the intermountain west (Montana, Wyoming, etc.).

    Where they have access to saltwater, resident rainbow can produce offspring which will choose to take up an anadromous lifestyle and steelhead can produce offspring which can choose to remain in fresh water. It is not uncommon for resident rainbows to to fertilize the eggs of spawning steelhead and a recent study shows that some steelhead have obtained 40% of their ganetic heritage from this source.

    Note, also, that the genus of the rainbow/steelhead, (Oncorhynchus), is the same as that of the Pacific salmons, this is also true of cutthroat (our coastal cutthroat is O. clarki clarki). The rainbow and cutthroat were re-classified to this genus from the genus Salmo (the genus of the Atlantic salmon and the brown trout) in 1978 because of closer physical relationships to the Pacific salmons.
     
  5. Bob Jones

    Bob Jones Still truckless now farther away

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    Thanks again Preston, good info as usuall.
     
  6. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

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    Preston nailed it. I catch native rainbows all the time in Rufus Woods and Lake Roosevelt(and tribs). If they put a fish passage at Chief Joseph Dam today, I bet some of the resident rainbows would make the transition to steelhead seamlessly.
     
  7. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

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    Excellent response Preston: concise, simple, clear; very nicely done.
     

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