steelhead

myriverguide.com / Flickr

Construction begins this week on a state project in the Methow Valley to give fish a boost of cold, clean water in rivers near Twisp, Washington. The state and a trout conservation group are pouring about $10 million into a whole new irrigation system there.

AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via The Bulletin

A new study suggests steelhead trout can have trouble using the Earth's magnetic field to navigate if they were raised in a hatchery, where the field may be distorted by iron pipes.

Bellamy Pailthorp

Washington state has banned hatchery-raised steelhead from three tributaries of the Upper Columbia River basin. The aim of these so-called "gene banks" is to maintain strongholds for wild fish, and the state plans to designate additional gene banks in the future.

So why were the state and federal governments back in court this week, defending the decision to place a new hatchery on the Elwha River as part of the dam removal process?

Earl Steele / Flickr

Steelhead trout may be Washington’s official state fish, but they also make up some of the region's most vulnerable populations, first listed as threatened in the Columbia River basin in 1998. 

In an effort to reverse their decline, the state has designated three tributaries of the Columbia River as wild steelhead gene banks, which means they’re off-limits to hatchery fish.

Earl Steele / Flickr

It’s prime time for wild steelhead, but you likely won’t see it on a plate, not even at the Steelhead Diner in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

“I don’t kill wild steelhead. I don’t eat them and I don’t serve them at my restaurant, and I never have,” said Kevin Davis, the restaurant’s chef who likes the Washington state fish so much that he named his first restaurant after it.

Many share Davis’ passion for the steelhead, which is a type of rainbow trout. Some restaurants and most vendors in Pike Place Market have informally banned selling or serving wild steelhead.

courtesy Wild River Press

 

Sean M. Gallagher grew up fishing steelhead. He's one of hundreds of sport fishermen who spend hours on riverbanks, seeking out the sparkling skin of rainbow trout known as steelhead.

Like some salmon, they come back from the ocean in winter to spawn upriver. But while salmon turn red and die when they return to their origins, steelhead live for several years in fresh water and get bigger — as big as 40 pounds while they are traversing regional rivers.

Gallagher, a first time-author, shares “the lures and lore of a Pacific Northwest icon” in his new two-volume book titled “Wild Steelhead.” We asked him for a primer on the fish he loves so much.

Anna King

A dried-out 3-mile-stretch of creek in central Washington will soon swell again with water. It’s part of a project near Ellensburg to pipe irrigation water from the Yakima River to keep water in the creek for salmon and steelhead.

Anna King

When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it’s usually too exhausted to go downriver again. Often, the fish just dies. But the Yakama Nation is changing that circle of life.

Tribal biologists have created a rehabilitation center that helps steelhead recover so they can spawn again in the future. And the Yakama fish spa is seeing more success.

Jim Cole / AP Photo

Fishermen around the Northwest are enjoying some exceptional salmon runs this autumn. Puget Sound is teeming with pink salmon and there's a record-breaking fall Chinook run in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. But as fish move upstream to spawn, danger lurks for dogs.

Dr. Scott Capsey had his first encounter with "salmon poisoning" years before he became a vet. His family's normally exuberant golden retriever mysteriously turned lethargic, had diarrhea and lots of vomiting.

"They didn't know if she was going to make it. I remember that conversation,” Capsey said.

Roger Tabor / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Survival rates for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound have plunged since the 1970s, and a big new international study is aiming to figure out why.

tpmartins / Flickr

An East Coast court case could have big impacts on West Coast fish, and farmers too. Chemical manufacturers are suing the federal government to get a rule restricting pesticide use wiped off the books.

In 2008 the National Marine Fisheries Service ruled a certain class of pesticides is a mortal threat to salmon and steelhead populations. Organophosphates are common on farms, and used to be widely used in gardens before regulators phased them out.