Hatchery Steelhead Question?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Steelie Mike, Sep 3, 2006.

  1. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member


    So today I caught a hatchery steelhead in a Columbia River Trib. The odd thing that I noticed about the fish was that it not only did not have a adipose fin, but it also had a missing ventral and dorsal fin. I have never caught a hatchery fish with three fin clips. I have seen a dorsal and adipose on the Lower D a few years back, but not three.

    Does anyone know of a hatchery that clips multiple fins? Also I have heard that the loss of the adipose fin does not affect swimming, does the removal of any other fin affect swimming? I find it odd because of the size of the fish.
  2. HogWrangler

    HogWrangler Member

    I have no idea but NICE FISH!!!
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Steelie -
    First the "dorsal clip" isn't a fin clip. It is what could be called a rearing mark - that is during the rearing time at the hatchery due to the crowding in the ponds the other fish "nip" at the dorsal fin of their mates. The result is that hatchery fish almost always have some deformity to their dorsals and in some cases it can be completely missing. Have seen such "marks" for as long as I have been fishing steelhead (45 years) and long before marking fish was pretty common.

    Sometimes the managers will clip one of the paired fins as a mark (especially common prior to the advent of code wire tags) so it is probably that the ventral clip is a real clip. It is not uncommon see a missing pectoral fin which again is usually rearing mark - for fish reared in round ponds as the fish continually swim around the pond the wear down the "outer" pectoral left fin can be severely deformed or missing. In raceways it can be either fin.

    Prior to the use of code wire tags in the mid-1980s it was pretty common to see multiple fin clips/marks - in addition to adipose and ventral clips folks used pectoral, dorsal, upper and lower lobes of the tail, maxilary clips, etc. It was a wonder that some of the fish ever returned. Actually there is some pretty good information from that ere on the effect of removing a fin on the survival of the smolt. Typically removing a fin would result in a 10% or more decline in overall survival. Even removing the adipose fin had some effect on the survival of the fish but the impact was by far the lowest.

    Probably more info that you want

    Tight lines
  4. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

    Nice brat Mike! I've caught a few fish out of the Hood missing the same, and have wondered the same thing. I think Salma answered the question. Is this more common with Skamanias?
  5. Verne

    Verne Member

    The special regs for the Cowlitz require release of hatchery steelhead with the right ventral fin clipped. I was told they are supposed to be a special upriver hatchery stock.
  6. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

    Thanks for the info Curt. Verne the fish was not caught on the Cowlitz.
  7. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    simply, most hatchery fish have messed up fins from rubbing on raceways and stuff, its way more prevolent with "cathables" in put and take fisheries where the fish are raised for longer.
  8. Verne

    Verne Member

    Sorry Mike, I didn't mean to imply you had done anything wrong.
    I just think it is interesting that they have special hatchery fish on the Cowlitz that they feel needs protected.
    I would like to know more about this program if anyone has knowledge.
  9. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Verne -
    As I understand it the ventral clipped steelhead on the Cowlitz are part of the late winter brood stock program where they are attempting to develop an intregarted hatchery program. Interestly once those fish are trapped and truck above the dams they become fair game to those that wish to harvest a fish.

    Here is a link that will provide additional info -


    Tight lines
  10. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

    No offense taken Verne. I did not read it that way. TL's.
  11. Sinktip

    Sinktip Monty

    Smalma, Great Info. Thanks for taking the time to help out.:ray1:
    BTW Sweet fish Mike.
  12. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

    I almost made a post asking this same thing last week... I took home a small steelie last Tuesday on a lower columbia trib that was missing adipose, dorsal and the right ventral fin. :confused:
  13. Verne

    Verne Member

    Thanks Smalma,
    that is very interesting information. I didn't know they considered steelhead to be winter fish so late in the year down there.
  14. Citori

    Citori Piscatorial Engineer

    On a related note... I have been told that the appropriate action with a hatchery fish is "kill 'em and grill 'em - do not release"

    Is that the proper procedure, or should hatchery fish be released as well.


  15. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

    It usually depends on the river and where you catch them. If you catch a hatchery fish in the upper Umpqua, people would be upset if you let it go because of their impact on the native population. If you catch one on the Kalama, I doubt anyone would care if you put it back. I imagine the answer will vary from person to person as well.