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Second time in this week I caught 12" rainbow in Green. I'm in doubt becouse I'd rather think all rainbows in anadromous rivers are young steelhead. This was heavily spotted, had bright pink stripe and looked like typical Yakima rainbow. Very nice fish. He hit small muddler and fought very hard
 

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Pretty much all of the westside salmon and steelhead streams have resident populations of rainbows and cutts, they just don't get very big on average. As you know, steelies and rainbows are the same species but a small proportion of anadromous fish choose, as a life-history strategy, to remain in the river rather than migrating to sea. That's really how all of these river populations spread around north america as the glaciers receded 10-11000 years ago. Steelhead parr become smolts somewhere around 4-6'' depending on growing conditions. (someone will probably correct me on that). If you've caught something much bigger than that, chances are its a resident fish...unless it's alot bigger than that!
btw, sounds like a nice fish.
jack
 

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Hey there,
I was trying to keep that a secret!!!
I've been catching (over a dozen now) rainbow-ish like trout between 10 and 14 inches. All hooked on swung steelie flies. I figured they were parr that had made it far enough down river to bump fins with the holding Chinook and then shot back up river.
Just a guess anyway. I thought it was pretty wierd too.

- Larry
 

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As noted above, most western Washington rivers have small populations of resident rainbows. They are slow-growing but, living for as much as ten years, can occasionally reach substantial size. Since they can adopt an anadromous lifestyle it is thought that they form a sort of safety net for steelhead populations, providing the ability to re-seed a river with ocean-going fish if the steelhead population is in decline. As you know, most western Washington streams are infertile compared to eastern Washington streams like the Yakima, but I have often been surprised by the upper Green; I've seen larger and more frequent mayfly hatches there than on any other westside river.
 

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As noted above, most western Washington rivers have small populations of resident rainbows. They are slow-growing but, living for as much as ten years, can occasionally reach substantial size. Since they
Do this trout sometimes go to the salt too as steelhead do? I'm asking becouse I saw several times typical rainbow trout in the Hiram Locks going upstream after the salmon. I also saw small dollies(!) there.
 

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Usually it's a matter of dissolved minerals. Most of our westside rivers are snow and rain fed and also have pretty steep courses. The water is fast, cold and lacking in the mineral content that is necessary to provide nutrients for the microscopic creatures at the very bottom of the food chain. Few diatoms and other phyto- and zooplankton means little food for the insects, which means little food for the fish. Our rivers were probably somewhat richer when the salmon populations were larger and ocean-derived nutrients were brought back up and deposited by the salmon who spawned, died and rotted back into the ecosystem. Numerous recent studies have shown the importance of ocean-derived nutrients not only to the young fish but to streamside vegetation and even to the animals and birds that live near the stream. Estimates of ocean-derived nutrients currently being deposited run to about 10% of historical levels. Experiments on Vancouver Island's Keogh River have shown the benefits of depositing slow-dissolving "briquets" of a mixture of minerals in the river; young fish grew faster prior to smolting, had a higher survival rate in the stream and higher return rates as adults.

The same is true of lakes; with a few exceptions most westside lakes tend to be acid rather than alkaline. The alkaline lakes of eastern Washington have a much greater potential for growing large populations of insects and scuds and, therefore, fish. Can the fertility of westside streams and lakes be improved? Probably not without a great deal of expense and effort. The dumping of hatchery salmon carcasses in the rivers is a step in the right direction, but our salmon runs have declined to such a degree that we have a lo-o-o-o-ng way to go to restore what was, even historically, a relatively low level of fertility.
 

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I don't know that I could say anything about that which wouldn't be just speculation. I think that when a rainbow takes up residence in freshwater he usually stays there, if only because smoltification (the process of altering his body's chemistry to allow him to survive in salt water) seems to involve such major changes in his metabolism. On the other hand, anadromous cutthoat seem to do it on a pretty regular basis. Anybody out there have any better information?
 

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Fish till ya drop.
Then suck it up
and fish the evening hatch.

This is a very interesting question (what makes a Coastal watershed fertile?)and the Canadians are (unfortunately for us) the pioneers in researching it. The Cowlitz river was one of many Washington rivers that once had a thriving population of native nonmigratory Rainbow. I was with my Grandfather around 1950, before the dams went in, and saw him take 3 native rainbow of 17-18" from below Cowlitz Falls.When the dams went in and the salmon were blocked from the upper river the population disappeared,or rather became stunted.
Anyhow the question on Freestone rivers of the Pacific coast seems to
have been constant reenrichment from spawned out Salmon Carcases as the only possible base of a food chain for the rivers.
Canada has started to reinrich several streams with the dead carcases from hatchery production (that used to be converted into hatchery fish food) and also with some sort of protien brickett scattered along the shores with much improved results in a matter of a couple years.

Why must Canada always be the leader in fisheries research?
 

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Pretty sure Preston is right on the rainbows and cutts anadromy. I suspect Cutts and dollies/bulls are better at the old 'in 'n out' and employ that as a strategy more often because they remain in the nearshore waters and estuarine areas rather than heading straight out to the high seas like the steelhead. Correct me if I'm wrong but you don't really find many 'jack' steelheads do you? I'm doing a research project in Wales right now on salmon and sea trout (sea-run browns) and the sea trout exhibit a much more similar life-history strategy to cutts. The Atlantic salmon are more analagous to our steelhead. Like our steelhead, the salmon out here occasionally survive spawning and return as 'kelts' whereas the sea trout (and our cutts and anadromous char) quite frequently survive to spawn multiple times. They don't seem to expend as much of their energy as salmon often do--no spawn 'til you die attitude, I guess.

Anyways, I'd be curious if someone knew more about the cutts and char life histories. I'm no expert.

I don't know about smoltification related changes in body chem./metabolism being the key though. I know that many aquaculture experiments with rainbow trout have found that survival is very high while basically taking rainbow parr and transfering them directly to salt water. How that plays out in wild fish, I don't know.
jack
 

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Good point, perhaps it's merely an assumption on my part that smolting puts that much stress on the fish. Les Johnson's new book on the coastal cutthroat, which should be hitting the bookstores sometime this winter, ought to have most of the current information that is available on sea-run cutthroat. He's been working on it for almost two years now and has been corresponding extensively with biologists from California to Alaska. The book will cover all aspects of the life of O. c. clarki.
 

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Preston,
thanks for the book advice. I'll certainly pick it up. I really enjoyed Pat Trotter's Cutthroat, Native Trout of the West. I thought the section that dealt more with our coastal friend was a bit skimpy however, and I look forward to this one.
cheers,
jack
 
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