Headscratcher

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by chrome/22, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. chrome/22

    chrome/22 For him there whould always be the riddle of steel

    Last Friday on the OP we set the drifter above a nice bucket & started swinging thru. About 10 casts in got slammed & a chrome jumper busted upward, could tell from the size it was a 3 salt fish. Good fight & she was brought to hand in the C&R net.

    Now this was a dimebrite wild hen of about 12 lbs. & we were surprised to see she had spawned. This has to be a rarity, perhaps a early winter lower river spawner that was heading back out? We were roughly 8 miles from the salt. Other than being w/o eggs she looked perfect, not a mark on her.

    Your 2 cents??



    c/22
     
  2. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

    I have seen this before in years past. In my experience, this is about the time that I would expect seeing at least a few fish like this.
     
  3. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Not really so rare. Female steelhead typically color up some as a secondary sexual characteristic associated with sexual maturity and spawning, but not always. The not always appears to apply to fish that spend very little time in freshwater, so arriving in the stream sexually mature, very little time migrating, and very little time spawning and post-spawn. Steelhead can rebrighten in a matter of just a few days post-spawning, so for a fish that doesn't get much color to begin with I suppose that could happen almost over-night.

    Sg
     
  4. Pat Lat

    Pat Lat Mad Flyentist

    Just curious how you know it didn't have eggs. Slender appearance?
    Could it have been a fresh fish that had underdeveloped eggs making it look not as plump.
    Sg, do fish usually have fully developed eggs when entering freshwayer, or do they sometimes develop later on their journey.
    Thanks
     
  5. Preston

    Preston Active Member

    Most winter-run fish enter the rivers with already well-developed eggs. Back in the day when it was open nearly year-round I caught a chrome-bright hen in the Dungeness River in May whose eggs were already loose in the skein (oddly enough her stomach was packed solid with the large black ants which were hatching at the time). She was apparently a very late winter-run fish, dropping in to spawn quickly before returning to salt water.

    My father caught a hen in March (also from the Dungeness) which he gave, uncleaned, to a neighbor, asking only that he return the eggs. An hour or so later the neighbor knocked at his door with a puzzled look and the two skeins of eggs on a saucer; each was about the diameter of a pencil and no more than three inches in length and the individual eggs much smaller than rice grains, asking "Is this what you wanted?" My father's assumption was that the fish had been a very early summer-run.

    In a river exhibiting the full range of the steelhead's genetic diversity I suspect that such anomalous individuals would be more frequently encountered. Such diversity is the most important reason for preserving, to the best of our ability, the gentic heritage of our wild steelhead.
     
    sopflyfisher and Andrew Lawrence like this.
  6. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Pat,

    A spawned out female steelhead kelt has an almost concave belly due to evacuation of her eggs. It's pretty easy to visually identify.

    As Preston points out, winter steelhead are called "ocean maturing" fish meaning that they become sexually mature while still in the ocean before entering fresh water. Eggs and milt are well developed when winter steelhead first enter freshwater. Summer steelhead are describes as "stream maturing" fish because their sex products are very immature, with pencil thin eggs skeins being the norm for summer runs. Later in the season like September or October, a summer steelhead's eggs skeins or milt sacs will be pretty well developed. One might ask why so soon, since the fish won't spawn until late February or March. The answer is because water temperatures are cold in the winter and the maturation process would take too long, so they develop almost to full maturity by October before the really cold temperatures arrive.

    Sg
     
  7. chrome/22

    chrome/22 For him there whould always be the riddle of steel

    "In a river exhibiting the full range of the steelhead's genetic diversity I suspect that such anomalous individuals would be more frequently encountered. Such diversity is the most important reason for preserving, to the best of our ability, the gentic heritage of our wild steelhead."


    Well said.

    Also caught & killed 2 hatchery steelhead. One regular sized Chambers Creek fish a 2 salt hen & what must amount to a clipped 1 salt steelie jack, small buck only 2lbs or so.

    Most of the early run wild fish I've seen are in the 6-12 lb range, with the exception of one fresh wild buck @ +20.


    c/22
     
    KerryS likes this.
  8. Pat Lat

    Pat Lat Mad Flyentist

    Thanks Sg and Preston. As always great info, and clear answers.