Mini Steelhead

This october I caught a few fish in the GR that I wouldnt consider a ture steelhead. The fish were 18-22" and were chrome bright and finned clipped. I am currious if these are Jacks. Does anyone have any ideas if these are steelhead or just big trout.

Will Atlas

most likely, especially the ones over 20 inches, just one salt steelhead. I dont know a heck of alot about the life histories on the GR, let alone the hatchery brat lifehistories, but I'd say they're likely 1 salters, or possibly lake run type fish that just hung out in the impoundment. Deschutes steelhead this summer seemed to average between 21 and 25 inches so steelies that size arent unheard of.


Active Member
Speykid -
First I have never fished the GR so my comments are based on some limited book learning and observation on the wet side of the State.

It is unlikely that they were "Jacks"; that is precious males.

Many of the pNW's summer steelhead return as what are called 1-salt fish. That is a fish that leaves the river in the spring and returns the following year (after 1 summer feeding in the salt). The steelhead with that life history are typically about 24-25 inches long though as with most things in nature there can be quite a range - not unusual to see fish of that age to vary around that average size with a range from 18 to 30 inches (perhaps even wider). The feeding conditions the fish find in the ocean can be variable and in years of poor conditions it is not unusual to see more fish in the lower portion of that range.

As Kerry points out it is also possible that the fish were resident rainbows (in this case hatchery fish as well). The surest way to separate the potential steelhead from the rainbows would be through aging the fish via their scales. The 1-salt steelhead would be in their third year of life (1 year as a smolt and in their 2 year of ocean rearing). A resident rainbow would be an older fish; typcially 5 to 8 years old.

One see very few true "Jacks" in most sea-going summer steelhead populations - the fish would leave as smolts (typcially in May) and return that same summer (July?). I would expect that they would be smaller than that 18 to 22 inch size. For reference in winter steelhead Jacks are more common and they typcially return in winter (4 to 6 months later than a summer fish would) and are usually in that 16-18 inch range.

Tight lines
I caught a couple like that on the Cowlitz last summer. I surmised they were one salt steelhead becuaus the cowlits has no rainbow. The dams see to that.


Active Member
Smalma said:
Speykid -
It is unlikely that they were "Jacks"; that is precious males.

I find all steelhead precious, not just the males.

But I think Curt meant to say precocious, like many teenage boys I know.;)


Active Member
Good catch! - Best of the day?

Most of been a Freudian slip - though I agree each and every steelhead is precious!!



aka T Colagrossi
Somewhat of a similar story for me this weekend....I caught two fish on the skagit one @ about 12" and the other about 15-16", both had clipped fins. I figured they never went to sea....

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