Hatchery Steelhead Question

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by wannafish, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. wannafish

    wannafish In search of Blinky...

    I'm just curious about where in a river system (how high up) hatchery steelhead smolts are usually planted. When they return, do they spawn as high in the system as wild fish normally would, or return to where they were released? These are dumb questions for someone with as much time on the water steelhead fishing as me, but it's not info that I've been able to find. I like to fish higher up in most river systems and I'd still like to find a couple of hatchery summer runs through the end of October. Any other insight would be appreciated!!:beer2:
  2. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

    The imperfect answer is that it depends on the system. We also dont really know exactly where all of those bastards (and they are just that) really end up. I've caught hatchery fish in rivers that have NEVER seen a planted smolts in the history of hatheries. I think they follow wild fish around to some extent. An easier answer would be where there are steelhead, there are usually, sadly, hatchery steelhead, atleast in the lower 48. The upper upper John Day might be the only exception (lower end is lousy with brats) I can think of because even places like asotin creek get hatchery fish.
  3. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Short answer is that most factory fish head back to the point of release with haste and where they are relased in a drainange varies. Of course they take advantage of good overwintering lies, which could be miles from thier release site. But when the urg hits, they tend to stack up like cord wood.

    I know that some of the most productive and popular steelhead holes around me are within a stones throw of where the smolts are planted.

    This is not always the case and as Zen mentioned, parts of the John Day are very popular fisheries for hatchery steelhead, though no steelhead are planted in that river (nor ever have been if I am correct). Giant B run fish are caught throughout the Columbia drainage, even thought they originate in the Clearwater. Seems that until the spawn is impending, some will wander all over the place.

    Specific information on how high up the smolts are planted (varies considerably by drainage according to the literature I have read) can be found in various research/reporting documents kept by the relevant agencies. I read a lot of fisheries reports. Good stuff in there :)
  4. BDD

    BDD Active Member

    Zen is right. There are specific release locations for different rivers and they sometimes change. Many larger rivers have multiple release locations. Your best bet is to determine the river you want to fish and then talk to the local WDFW or other source to find out the release locations. But there is one more thing regarding summer steelhead. Typically summer steelhead don't pod up in the fall at their release point. Example? Take Cottonwood creek on the Ronde. You can fish there in October and there may be a few fish around but many are passing through to Oregon. But come February, the place will be lined with fish waiting to return to the hatchery rack. Hatchery winter fish on the other hand will quickly migrate to their release location since they are much more nearer to spawning and that is why terminal areas are usually crowed during the winter return because everyone knows those fish are returning to that location.

    As far as the wandering issue steelhead are known for that tendecy. How do you suppose they re-populated areas after say a volcanic eruption or an ice age? Wild fish wander too but I'm guessing not at the same rates as hatchery fish. There are many reasons for this but its likely related to the use of non-localized populations and acclimation issues.