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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A question to the biologists in the crowd. Yesterday, I caught what was either a resident rainbow or a steelhead jack on the Skykomish. My question is do steelhead jacks even exist in the Puget Sound rivers and if so, do they return to the ocean after spawning?

Thanks.
 

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Chris,

Yes, jack steelhead occur in Puget Sound rivers. They occur among both hatchery and wild steelhead, but are generally more common among hatchery populations, due most likely to the large size the hatchery smolts are raised to at the time of release. They would return to salt water after spawning, and some do, but being male, they tend to seek out females to spawn with through the season, and like most male steelhead, they spawn 'til they die, and don't successfully return to the sea.

Sg
 

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Was the fish in question clipped or not. At this time of year the vast majority of steelhead jacks would be hatchery fish and therefore clipped. If it was unclipped then I would say that it was likely a resident fish.

While it is common for male steelhead to survive spawning at much lower rates than the females nearly every large scale collection of steelhead in the Puget Sound region would have returning adults that had been jacks the previous year.

Tight lines
curt
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
did it look like this?



the resi rainbows in the sky are way troutier lookin. dont have a picture handy. (that jack in the photo is an OP fish btw)
Yes, it looked almost identical to the fish on your photo and it was unclipped. Per Curt's comment, the timing of catching this fish make make it a resident. Though I have not had the privilege of catching residents of this size in the lower Sky.

Fascinating stuff.

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Curt,
I find this very interesting as I fish the Snoq. quite a bit in late summer. Yes, I am a bit of a masochist LOL. Nor do I fish a lot of the water that is comonally fished.
I have in the last couple of years landed a few fish that were nickle bright and appeared to be hens. Very short head and just looked like a hen. They were in that 18 to 19 inch category and were not clipped fish. They were definately not like a resident fish in that they showed very little color! They were bright fish! I know they weren't cutts. They did not haver the hyoid teeth on the back of the tongue and fin coloration and limited spotting was all wrong.
I have caught enough steelhead to know a fresh fish. I have caught quite a few in the salt and these were very close to a salt water fish.

Dave
 

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they get a few in various lakes up here coming to overwinter with the dollies and cutts, none of them spawn, and they aren't attached to a particular lake, apparently silvers will do the same thing on occasion. In the smolt trap this year we caught 3 or 4 silvers that were upwards of 14 inches in may, I asked a biologist about it and he said that when the estuary is particularly large this can be a fairly common behaviour.
 

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wet line -
As often is the case it would be difficult to tell exactly what you were catching without looking at their scales. That said it is not uncommon for some of the 1-salt summer steelhead to be less than 20 inches long - those fish would include both males and females. While sampling the Deer Creek summer steelhead I found a reasonable number of O. mykiss in that 19/20 ince range. Based on the scales they included both resident and steelhead. To my eye I could not reliably separate the two based on coloration/body shape/etc. Though at times the rainbows tended to be "fatter" and more colored by those traits were not constant.

I have noticed that I tend to get more of those smaller 1-salt fish later in the season (August/September). However on the whole they tend to be a small portion of the total run; that is that I would typically see/catch several larger fish for each of those small guys. For what it is worth I had heard reports from several folks that they have been seeing alot more resident rainbows in the Snoqualmie the last couple of years.

Finallyit is very rare to see "half-pounder" in our Puget Sound rivers. Based on scale samples I have seen a total of 3 all of which were in that 15 inch size range.

Tight lines
Curt
 

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Curt,

Thankyou for your insight.

Generally I fish down river from Carnation is several different areas. The large bows or small steelhead have all been caught just after the river settles down after the first rains in September.

I too have been finding some 8" to 10" bows in the water I fish. They generally show up mid August to mid September. They will be in small pods and stay in an area for a week or so then are gone. I have assumed they were wild steelhead smolt heading out to the salt. In that at this time of year I am looking for sea runs I will go to smaller dries or wet flies to reduce mortallity. Not that I use a really large hook for cutts, generally an 8 or a 10 spider pattern. By fishing the surface I will rarely have a fish that takes the fly deeply.

Dave
 
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