Fall spawning rainbows

Shaun Solomon
I brought this up on another thread, but since it is pretty far from the original post, out of politeness I figured I’d start a new thread.

I was wondering if anyone ever encountered rainbows spawning in the fall? Not steelhead, resident rainbows. It’s not always easy to tell what fish are up to unless you actually have eyes on them, which isn’t always possible. But even so, I have witnessed spawning behavior from a certain number of rainbows during the fall brown spawn/kokanee spawn when I lived in Colorado. It seemed to me to be increasingly common over a decade or so before I moved out here, and Colorado was experiencing warming winters during that time period.

These were fish running out of reservoirs up the inlet rivers, or out of larger rivers into feeder streams. I’d be out in the fall hunting for big browns, and did a lot more walking and looking than fishing. I found a decent amount of rainbows, sometimes good ones, that didn’t remember that they were supposed to spawn in the spring.

Again, let me emphasize that I could see them actively spawning. I don’t mess with fish that are spawning, but tailouts and undercuts nearby are fair game IMO, and I’d pull ‘bows spewing eggs and milt out of nearby holding water.

Anyway, I’m just curious about the situation, and if any of you have encountered anything similar. I know the presence of anadromous fish confuses the matter, but winter steelhead actually make me think there might be a latent tendency for fall spawning in landlocked ‘bows.

Here are some fall spawning ‘bows I caught over the years. Sorry for bad image quality, these are pictures of a barely functional laptop.

Definitely a nice assortment of fish.

I grew up on a river that seemed to have an almost continuous run of salmonids year round. Late summer and early fall have the heaviest runs of sockeye, coho, chinook, pinks, and chum followed by winter steelhead, then summer steelhead, then spring chinook; then all over again. The runs all blended together. Somewhere in there the rainbows and cutthroats also ran upriver, and like steelhead and chinook I was told that the river had two seasons of trout spawning.

But, in those days we didn't really differentiate between steelhead and resident bows ..

Sadly, like many fisheries, that river is not what it used to be.
I've caught rainbows that were spawning in January while ice fishing . It caught me by surprise
I can't speak for all rivers but I know the ones i know Rainbows usually spawns late spring early summer.
The usual cycle was Bows in the spring, Browns, brookies,(and Kokes) in the fall
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Shaun Solomon
Yeah copy that. I’ve come across the random odd duck of a rainbow spawning in the fall.

Conversely, I’ve NEVER seen a fall spawning trout like a brown or brookie spawning in the spring.

I was just curious if it was something others had observed, and if so if they could give any additional observations on the phenomenon.

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