Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by BDD, Jan 22, 2008.
Some additional information/thoughts on large "rainbows" in our rivers.
First this 20 inch business as a threshold for rainbow/steelhead goes back to having to "punch" a steelhead on ones card. It was decided years ago that the simplest way to clarify whether a kept fish needed to punched or not on our various steelhead rivers was the 20 inch rule. Yes some steelhead would not require beng punched (jacks and some small 1-salt summer fish) and some rainbows (over 20 inches) would be "punched". However the vast majority of fish being kept over 20 inches would have been steelhead and the vast majority of those under 20 inches would be rainbows. As always is the case there was a need for a black and white rule; grey is pretty hard to enforce. Of course in the years since many wild steelhead populations have all declined and we now know that the line between the resident and anadromous life histories of O. mykiss is even more blurred than thought.
The reports that I have read would indicate that the folks doing the species studies on the Yakima have found very few rainbows over 20 inches. Of course some may exist ( have caguht 20 inch cutthroat so why not rainbows) and if the steelhead rebounds we may see such fish more commonly. I personally have caught several larger O. mykiss (20 to 22 inches) in the spring. At that time as pointed out by BBD without a scale sample it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between wild resident and steelhead - I certainly could not.
I have based on scale information seen resident rainbows over 20 inches in a number of western Washington streams. The list includes Snoqualmie, Tolt, Skykomish, SF Skykomish, Pilchuck, North Fork Stillaguamish, Sauk, Skagit and SF Nooksack. Most of those large fish were 7 ot 8 years old with several as old as 10 years old (3 of which exceeded 24 inches). Should also add that at times it is possible to separate the resident and anadromous life histories by body conditions. The resident fish can be much "fatter" than a steelhead; examples would include lake run fish (think Cedar River) and fish that have been gorging on salmon eggs etc.
Bottom line based on the available information on hand currently a 24 inch O. mykiss [/I]in the Yakima is a very rare critter and the odds are heavy in favor of any such fish being an anadromous fish.
That is an interesting way to classify steelhead, as there are a fair number of 20" plus trout caught in the river every year. i have spent a fair amount of time fishing the river and only witnessed one steelhead caught. so to confuse things a little bit more, what do you think this is?[/url][/IMG]
and then what is this?
Both are over 20" and have adipose fin, but i think its pretty easy to tell the difference. Also, every guide service on the river has had photos of "big yakima trout" out of the water in the past, so i wouldn't single out reds or any of the others.
i guess i singled out red's. i didn't mean to. i thought of the first example that came into my head. all i know was i showed the video to my friend and he said "that's no trout, that's a steelhead!". the title of the video was like big trout on the dry fly or something.
i wasnt trying to pick on you about it, i was trying to avoid a mass flaming.
Rainbow or Steelhead, either way I would love to catch a 24" fish on the Yakima.
22.5 inch upper yak fish. This is a grey area fish - steel or resident bow? I can't tell.
first off thats 18-20 inches and not 22.5 :rofl: second its a resident note the spots under the lateral line.
The first picture below is of the fish BDD and I came across the other day. It was a beautiful O. mykiss (I'm sticking to resident life history strategy), and an awesome experience when you consider it truely was one of those last cast of the day type moments. It was getting dark and it was my last cast for the day. BDD was walking upstream and out of the corner of my eye I saw my bobber go down, and in the middle of saying something like, "what a spot", wham I set the hook. That fish fought pretty good and had that darned stonefly nymph right in the bottom jaw. I got to thinking after seeing this post, how did it look in comarison to the morphometric traits shown in my other top 3 personal Yakima River rainbows. The last pic is just for fun.
Do you have pics of other Yakima River rainbow hoggs, let's see em. This is a good discussion, as yes I guide the Yakima River, but wan't to insure we're doing all we can for fisheries conservation.
Tight Lines, and C & R,
a few years ago fishing the yak in march i landed a fish that was 22" on a skwala dry. the fish had what looked like a perfect hole punch on its gill plate. the pictures are back home so i cant post them but do you think it was just an injury or deformation or a way to identify a steelhead.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that's a steelie. That fish is just too clean to be a resident. Good job.
Also, the 22.5" fish above. Looks 22.5" to me. That's a real nice fish, too.
As for spots below the lateral line, and if they have them it's not a steelhead? I really don't know about that. . .
Perhaps a better question would have been of all the 24 inch O. mykiss swimming above Roza right now, are there more anadromous or resident forms?
Thanks for the great responses guys. I think this is a cool subject and a carry over of a previous thread on large O. mykiss in the Yakima where several pictures were posted and one could guess the life history.
Curt, your insight is always a welcomed bonus to any topic.
In my opinion, Joe's two fish appear to be different forms (big bellied fish looks like a bow to me but the buck looks like a steelhead). Lex's fish is tougher to differentiate.
Daryle, you should know better as you never caught any rainbows off Alava but you caught plenty of steelhead.
AKPM-spot location is not always a dead give away either.
David, I'm glad you tuned in as I didn't want to post without your permission. Acutally, the pic where you are smiling is much better
My guesses are: first pic is a steelhead, next two are trout (and there is no way the last one is 22...If it was that big, you shouldn't have been one-handing it...that's probably what you told your client to make him feel better.
Pomb-if you caught a fish with a perc-punch then surely it was a steelhead unless a resident form showed up at the hatchery and got punched...that scenario is pretty doubtful. My follow up question is where was it punched before arriving to the Yakima? The wanderings of summer steel always amaze me.
No way to say for certain from pictures, but I would agree 100%
I'm with everyone else. The top fish appears in my opinion to be a steelhead. The coloration, and the firmness of the body suggest steelhead in my opinion. The other two are very trouty. They've got big old guts and they're profusely spotted below the lateral line. Did you catch it near the mouth of a potential spawning trib?
I would like to see more emphasis on steelhead restoration on the Yak. I think the potential is there for a much larger component of anadromous O.mykiss in that population. Some of the best runs of wild steelhead in that area are in tribs of the lower yak, but for a number of reasons the upper river steelhead (above Roza) are basically at background levels. I've talked to a prominent bio who think the Yakima should be producing a couple of orders of magnitude more steelhead than it is, that would probably involve better passage facilities and some compromises in terms of the hydrograph.