Native Trout / Winter

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by chrome/22, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. I've seen just a handful of these heavily spotted gorgeous native trout while fishing steel in the last 25 years, all NW rivers must have a small remnant population. The few I've personally witnessed have taken small clusters of cured eggs & have been in the 16-22" range & very healthy looking specimens. I also have noted they tend hang below steelhead much like the feeding strategy of a dollie on a pod of spawning salmon.

    This AK rainbow pic is for refrence only, not a local fish.

    Any other close encounters?

  2. Chromer,
    I've caught a few out on the OP that looked like resident bows. They were 14-18". I guess they could have been jack steelhead as well but they didn't look like it to me.

    There is one stream myself and a few board members used to fish that produced fish up to 24" on dead drift dry flies. This stream isn't known for having a summer steelhead run so I assume these are bows. Everything over 20" is considered a steelhead, but in my opinion these fish aren't steelhead. The fish were super beautiful hard fighting fish that would also at times try and inhale smaller fish you had on.
    The stream is no longer open to fishing so I guess we'll never know what they are.
  3. That is one beautiful fish!
  4. Those resident rainbows are an important part of the diversity found in the region's O. mykiss populations and recent research has shown that they are an important factor in the stability of "steelhead" populations. This is especially so during periods of limited marine survival where this alternate life history provides a population hedge.

    Here in the north Puget Sound region in those areas where harvest and the use of bait has been limted increases in the resident life history has been noted. These resident fish have shown the ability to spawn multiple times (at rates higher than their anadromous cousins). Resident fish as large as 25 inches that were 10 years old and having spawned as many as 5 times have been observed in North Sound rivers which reinforces the need for harvest and bait restrictions.

    Some of this is discussed in the O. mykiss diversity in North Puget Sound article that can be in the "article and reference forum" here at WFF.

    Richard Torres and TwistedChimp like this.
  5. Both of these fish came from our local S Rivers. The fish in the first photograph measured 18 1/2 inches long and was caught while I was fishing for winter run steelhead. The fly that it took was the black version of Mike Kinney's Skagit Minnow. ( As a side note, the rod in the photgraph is a 12' 4" two-hander.) The fish in the second photograph measured 18 inches in length, and was caught during the summer. It took a small, bright marabou pattern. I have hooked a couple others in this size range. However, they always seem to come off. In addition, I have caught quite a few in the 15 and 16 inch range. They are there, but the numbers are nothing compared to places like Montana. As you have probably figured out by now, most of my encounters were incidental. However, with the exception of the fish in the first picture, I typically run into these resident rainbows during the late summer and early fall. Basically, once the rivers have reached their summer lows.

    Attached Files:

  6. I have caught similar trout in the 15-20 inch range on the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers in Oregon but only as described during the winter months.

  7. Over a lot of years of tromping North Sound anadromous rivers I have been fortunate enough to have at hand quite a few resident rainbows; including a surprising number over 20 inches (most varified as residents from scale samples). Have taken 20 inch or better resient rainbows from the anadromous portions of the South Fork Nooksack, Skagit, Sauk, North Fork Stillaguamish, Pilchuck river, Skykomish, South Fork Skyomish, Snoqualmie, Tolt, and Cedar river. In addition sub- 20 inch fish have come from a surprising number of additional waters.

    I have been fortunate enought to catch those resident fish every month that our anadromous waters are open for fishing. While the vast majority of the resident rainbows have been taken with flies to be fair the swung traditonal steelhead fly is the poorest approach for such encounters; they after all are still resident rainbows.

    Since a few years after the Sauk was established as a wild salmonid river (CnR for everything but hatchery steelhead with selective gear rules) I often catch more resident rainbows in a single season than I had caught in total over the previous 3 decades before the regulation change.

    In short our rivers still have the diversity of the resident life form of O. mykiss, and where management allows they can produce singificant numbers of them and finally they can reach some surprising sizes in the so-called sterile waters of western Washington.

    Andrew Lawrence, Patrick Gould and TD like this.
  8. I fish alot of SW Washington and coastal / Pen rivers, have caught a fair amount of these kinds trout over the years. Many times the trout kept the day from being a bust. I never mind catching trout in the 20-22" range that put a great fight even for a 7wt rod. Most of the time the fish look like bows but have seen some Cut Throat also.
  9. trout or steelhead, how can you tell without scale samples etc. The ones i have caught are slim and have no lateral line and just look like healthy resident bows( no scales flaking off). A guy below me this fall landed one and says they are steelhead, i said just a big trout and he wanted to argue, so I walked away. It seems that the 20" rule was the only way for him to argue his point.
  10. Some guys just don't get it, its easy to tell a small steelhead from a wild river rainbow. You just have to have seen a few, the bows stand out, they just POP.

    I did land a fish a few Jan/Feb's ago on the OP Clearwater that stumped me for a minute. Wish I had snapped a pic, it was a perfectly scaled down wild OP steelhead buck all 18-20" of him. Steelhead jack, really cool looking fish just in from the saltwater 2-3 days. Mean looking dude.

  11. have caught a few also. mostly in late summer, early fall. had one that was right in with some sea runs feeding on mayflies and caddis. so when i first hooked him i thought it was a big cutt, only to find out it was rainbow.
    way back when we always thought they were jack steelhead. but it seems they had much more spots than a steely. funny though i have never hooked one when dollys were in the run or pool ?
  12. I hear you Brad. . .I don't think there's a finer looking fish than a fresh steelie jack (or skipper as we used to call them in the GL tribs). Regarding the resident bows, sometimes they're so fancy and spotted up I mistake them for cutts. Cool critters either way,

  13. Got into 3 today on some local water, big one right around 20" other 2 smaller & stuffed w/ what must have been chum eggs. Looked like a football. Also one whitefish, no steelhead.

    Not as pretty as some I've caught, but a big one


  14. I caught one in the South Fork today Curt, 20"+ male that was fat and beautifully colored, half dozen white fish to, no steelhead though.
  15. Chris/Chrome-
    Good to hear - well done!

    I think folks would b surprised at how many resident rainbows and their sizes our rivers would hold if the management decision was made to allow them to thrive.

  16. Curt,
    I've always felt that the two fish over 14" on many streams is a very outdated regulation. Since those resident bows may hold the key to steelhead recovery, it seems crazy that they are still allowed to be harvested.
    Same goes with searun cutts. Protect them in the salt but let them be harvested once they hit the streams? That makes no sense to me.
  17. Stonefish-
    I agree that the regulations are in need of an overhaul and with the resident info rainbow/steelhead only highlights that need.

    That overhaul is much more important for the steelhead/rainbow question than sea-runs. The behavior of those adult resident rainbows essentially assures that they are vulunerable to any andromous in-river fishery anytime the river is open. The behavior of the sea-runs assure that the sub-adult and adult cutthroat are only exposed to such fisheries for a few months rather than the entire year.

    There were a proposal or two this regulation cycle that attempted to address that issue but they were rejected at the agency level and did not go out for public comment. If folks feel that such changes are needed it needs to come to the commissions attention throuh either public comments or more such proposals the next opportunity (unfortunately that will be two or more years down the road). The agency was more than willing to go after the tributary fisheries on the coast and in Puget Sound but clearly drew the line at the "tradtional" adult steelhead and salmon fisheries and methods.

    Stonefish and Richard Torres like this.
  18. Curt,
    I always appreciate the information you provide.
    I should have also included the resident form of coastal cutthroat in my last post. I fish several streams that have excellent population of good size cutts above in stream barriers.

    A few years ago I encountered an angler with a very large cutt on a stringer. By far the largest I had seen out of this stream. Just a great specimen and it was difficult to see a fine native fish like that be destined for the frying pan. Both forms of cutts along with the resident rainbows are in my opinion much to valuable to be harvested. We need more protection for these fish then the current regulations offer.
    Jim Wallace likes this.
  19. So all of these years, there is this misconception for the average angler targeting trout in our west side rivers and they're actually killing smaller native steelhead?
  20. Richard,
    The fish people are catching could possibly being either resident bows or steelhead.
    Here is a link that will help explain why it is so important to protect the resident rainbows as they are likely to help restore our wild steelhead populations.

    Curt has posted some great info on this in the past. Perhaps he can add his superior knowledge versus mine on this subject.
    Pat Lat likes this.

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