Steelhead in other parts of the country

Itchy Dog

Some call me Kirk Werner
I suppose I could look this up, but I'm inherently lazy. I was just wondering if steelhead hatcheries operate in other parts of the country (upper midwest) to "supplement" wild runs like out here?


Anywhere ~ Anytime
The majority of fishing in the great lakes region is over hatchery fish. There are places that have good natural repro but no where near enough to satiate the masses.

Alot of the best water is above barriers so the Steelhead and Salmon are denied access to headwaters of most tribs. Our resident trout fishing [MI] is managed first and foremost in the good water.
Yep i know for fact living here in Pennsylvania,and also fishing New York Tributaries and rivers and i have been to NY famed Salmon River Steelhead/Salmon Rearing Facility at Altmar.I dont know much about Ohio or Michigan,Wiscconsin,or Minnesota,or even Canada.But word is that we have better runs that you guys out west.I have never been out west but guys that iknow that have been goin every year or have lived out there and fished have told me as such.Whatever,I love Steelhead /Lake Run Browns/Salmon and i enjoy the company of other anglers that also enjoy fishing for em too.
Tight Wraps & Tight Lines
Rick Wallace


Recreational User
Let's get one thing straight before this gets ugly...

The Great Lakes DO NOT have "wild steelhead". In the lower 48, the west coast is the only place where steelhead are Native. Prior to 1874, rainbow trout were not present in the midwest or the eastern US. Hatchery efforts began in earnest in the 1880's.

Itchy Dog

Some call me Kirk Werner
Thanks, all.

To avoid confusion and argument, the Great Lakes don't have native steelhead, but there do exist wild runs of naturally reproducing fish now.

Do they clip adipose fins on the hatchery brats in other parts of the country?


Anywhere ~ Anytime
Itchy, yes many fish are marked in multiple ways. Ours used to have a right pec clip but in an effort to save a few bucks the effort was scrapped. I think this will be the first year of returns for unmarked fish here.


Active Member
So this begs the question. Why are the hatcheries going to the expense and trouble of marking the fish since there were no wild steelhead to begin with and hence no need to differentiate. Is there a movement to identify and save "wild progeny of hatchery parents.?" Is there a Wild Hatchery Coalition chapter?



Well-Known Member

Despite the lower productivity of hatchery fish spawning in the natural environment, hatchery steelhead have been successful enough to develop several naturally self sustaining populations in the GL region that seem to be doing rather well.

I spent a lot of my mis-spent youth in MI. Fishing for steelhead was terrific at leadt 6 months of the year. I go back and visit family a couple of times a year and fish with ny brother from Traverse City. I catch more steelies in a weekend there than in a year here.

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
To answer the question, Midwestern steelhead stocking is done their for the enjoyment of sport fishermen.

As far as the thread drift goes. If you want to catch steelhead then go to the great lakes. I moved from Syracuse to B'ham to fish for steelhead. I would likely have caught several hundred more steelhead in the great lakes had I stayed.

I like where I am.

Go Sox,

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
i spent a fall/winter in western ny and really did enjoy the fishing there for steelhead. there is good swinging water in places and the numbers of fish are truly amazing, especially compared to washington state.

the drawbacks are the number of people, lack of rotation ettiquette, and stream access laws although it seemed easy enough to find plenty of access. i didn't mind it too much, but if you want scary in the great lakes area... check out the salmon fishing. it makes any snag fishery in washington look like a posh, elite fishing experience.

i recall hearing that they get approx a 50% return on smolt plants.... so you can imagine the number of fish returning based off of 50-70K plants. it might have been a line of crap given to the gullible west coaster, but the fishing was not "fish hard for hopefully 1 fish" it was "i wonder how many fish i'll hook today".

it aint what i consider "real" steelhead fishing, but it was fun and if you happen to be in the area during the runs bring a rod and have some fun. i have family in the area... and i try to plan trips to be there when there's gonna be some fish around (couple weeks early this fall).

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Well those fish don't have to run the risk of going to sea and have twenty nations trying to net them on the high seas. They get lost in Lake Michigan and that other big lake,. Superior.



Proud to Be Alaskan
Great Lakes do not have steelhead, steelhead are not steelhead untill they hit salt water... Great Lakes "steelhead" are adfluvial rainbow trout.... And mostly hatchery fish


Anywhere ~ Anytime
To much for generalisation!

There are 5 Great Lakes, bounded by 7 states and 1 Canadian province.

Topwater, your experiences in W. New York are typical for a Lake Erie Trib. Numbers of stockers annually would truly rock you [it does me] Returns are typically within a tight tolerence range of weight and length.

That is NOT the case everywhere. Just as the West differentiates regions and watersheds, so does the east.

So this begs the question. Why are the hatcheries going to the expense and trouble of marking the fish since there were no wild steelhead to begin with and hence no need to differentiate. Is there a movement to identify and save "wild progeny of hatchery parents.?" Is there a Wild Hatchery Coalition chapter?

Thanks for interest.

We've had wild Rainbows for 100+ years, not exactly decendants of hatchery parents. Planters are marked mostly for managment purposes, places alot of info at hand. Many MI streams have entirely different programs, some [southern shores] have no natural repro & 100% hatchery based while others recieve no stocking. Some never have been stocked and have returns, maybe not large but are supporting a few wild fish. Yes there are strong factions re managment. Many will only keep a table fish if it's clipped and direct hatchery stock. These aren't that far removed at times MI utilises a Brood Stock system.

Edit: powder monkey, I'm somewhat inclined to agree with you.


Not to be confused with freestoneangler
I'm just heading out of my hotel room to Oak Orchard Creek. I've heard rumors of steelhead there; I'll let you know if I find any. :)