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    Species: Steelhead


    Fish of the Great Lakes Steelhead - Salmo gairdneri

    Steelhead is a name given to rainbow trout which live n the Great lakes. Rainbow trout are native to the Pacific Ocean along North America and to rivers and other fresh waters of North America west of the Rocky Mountains. They are a popular game fish, and for this reason have been introduced all over the United States.



    Identifying characteristics

    Two dorsal fins including one adipose fin, mouth and gums are light, small spots along rays on entire tail, 10-12 rays in anal fin.? Hatcheries clip adipose fins on all stocked fish. Wild strains of steelhead can be found in many rivers in the Great Lakes with most fish be stocked by heavy stocking programs.

    Great lakes Steelhead
    • Prefer 58-62 degree water
    • Spawn on gravel in the rivers in spring
    • Prefer clean water
    • Will aggressively hit flies
    • Can spawn multiple times
    • 30" fish are considered a trophy

    Steelhead are usually found in waters less than 35 feet deep at temperatures of 58-62 degrees F. They are often found near stream outlets, especially in spring and early summer. In the lake-dwelling part of their life cycle, they wander along the shoals eating plankton, minnows, surface and bottom insects and other aquatic life. Although they feed primarily in mid-depths, they do take surface insects, including fly fishermen's flies. Larger rainbows will eat other small fish if available.

    Great Lakes steelhead enter their spawning streams from late October to early May. At the present most spawning occurs in the spring, although more steelhead are beginning to spawn in fall. Spawning takes place in a bed of fine gravel, usually in a riffle above a pool. Steelhead don't necessarily die after this; they may live to reproduce for as many as five successive years. Most rainbow trout return home to spawn in the stream in which they were born or planted.

    Hatch and Growth

    Trout eggs hatch in four to seven weeks, depending on water temperature. Young trout may travel downstream to the lake in their first summer, or they may remain from one to three years in their home stream before migrating lake ward.

    Individual growth varies greatly even within the same population. Most Great lakes steelhead reach sexual maturity at age three to five years, ahead of females. A mature 16-inch fish living in the Great lakes may continue to grow throughout its life and could reach 36 inches in length and up to 20 pounds in weight. However, average adult size for steelhead in 9 to 10 pounds while life expectancy in the Great Lakes is six to eight years.

    Larger fish, fish-eating birds and mammals and sea lamprey are the steelhead's natural enemies. In turn, the steelhead finds itself competing with other salmon and trout, other predatory fishes and a variety of bottom feeders, for its food. It also competes with salmon and trout for spawning grounds.

    Great Fighters

    Steelhead are valiant fighters and will readily take a fly on the dead drift. The average hook to land ratio seems to be 10% to 15% of all fish hooked are landed. They are formidable opponents for even the most avid angler.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16 @ 19:10:53 UTC by admin


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