Fish identification help

Trout Slayer_7
What kind of fish do you guys think this is? It was caught in a creek three days ago. I think either a jack steelhead or really unique looking rainbow, was caught in a Willamette river watershed.

AD716E37-95DB-492C-9E96-DC22E2E9D1F6.jpeg D0867450-B8D4-4EE7-8CF7-F50AB6292151.jpeg
 
  • Like
Reactions: mthrlwd
GaryP1958
Spawned out steely!
 
  • Like
Reactions: RiverWalker and Trout Slayer_7
jamisonace
That's a tough one. I think your guesses are good but I dont know for sure. Here's a pic of a summer steelhead caught on the McKenzie late in the year.

The spotting is more consistent with a salmon but the red stripe seems different than i would expect for a coho. The Santiam system gets coho.

20181114_155437.jpg
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7
Trout Slayer_7
GaryP1958 said:
Spawned out steely!
Thanks for the input!

jamisonace said:
That's a tough one. I think your guesses are good but I dont know for sure. Here's a pic of a summer steelhead caught on the McKenzie late in the year.

The spotting is more consistent with a salmon but the red stripe seems different than i would expect for a coho. The Santiam system gets coho.
Yeah that’s what I was thinking too the spotting pattern is not like steelhead I’ve seen but it’s definitely not a coho by the cheeks and the shape of the face it’s strange for sure, also seemed quite big for a trout in that small of a creek so I don’t know
 
O. mykiss
My first question is is the area accessible to anadramous fish? It’s possible it’s a steelhead, but a summer steelhead would have a different body shape and would be skinny.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7
O. mykiss
One thing I’m 100% sure of, that’s definitely not a salmon. It’s 100% a rainbow, it’s in full spawn mode. Im almost leaning towards a resident fish. Steelhead are much longer and skinnier with the exception of some strains of winter steelhead. A winter steelhead would be nickel bright this time of year
 
  • Like
Reactions: RiverWalker and Trout Slayer_7
jamisonace
O. mykiss said:
One thing I’m 100% sure of, that’s definitely not a salmon. It’s 100% a rainbow, it’s in full spawn mode. Im almost leaning towards a resident fish. Steelhead are much longer and skinnier with the exception of some strains of winter steelhead. A winter steelhead would be nickel bright this time of year

I don't know how you can be 100% sure. There are just too many features that are inconsistent with summer steelhead, winter steelhead or salmon. I agree resident rainbow is a possibility but it's shape is more salmon than rainbow.

Here's a 21" McKenzie rainbow and a couple smaller rainbows. Shape and spotting are very different.

I'm at a loss to say anything conclusive.

O. mykiss said:
My first question is is the area accessible to anadramous fish? It’s possible it’s a steelhead, but a summer steelhead would have a different body shape and would be skinny.

I agree. It would be nice to know what anadramous runs get into this stream.
 
brandon4455
GaryP1958 said:
Spawned out steely!
Spawned out? Look at the guy and shoulders on that thing!

It’s a rainbow 100% and not sure if the sea run variety or not. I will say that rainbows at least those around here are all spring spawn fish, not fall spawn. So the coloration +good condition this time of year is what stumps me, definitely extremely early for a willamette winter steelhead to be colored up like that.
However I will say the coloration and the way the spots don’t extend below the lateral line screams steelhead to me.

And regardless of resident rainbow or steelhead.. the girth is quite possibly attributed to what it’s been eating and that is mostly likely an insane amount of coho eggs. I’ve caught a lot of summer steelhead in December and you’d be surprised how late into the year some of them are in “okay” shape. They spawn into January and later in some places, I’ve seen fresh out of the salt summer fish in October. I caught this fish the last week of December several years ago.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mthrlwd, Grant22, Fred and 2 others
Shaun Solomon
Hells bells looks like a big trout to me, but what do I know. I’d be willing to bet my tender bits it ain’t no salmon.

Whatever you want to call it, I call it a nice fish.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7
jamisonace
I am 100% sure it's not a sturgeon.

If I had to venture a guess I would say winter steelhead. Send the pic to ODFW, maybe someone there can give you a conclusive answer.
 
Last edited:
Admin
jamisonace said:
If I had to venture a guess I would say winter steelhead.
Can it be a trout that stayed at home and didn't travel to the ocean and back?
 
jamisonace
Admin said:
Can it be a trout that stayed at home and didn't travel to the ocean and back?
It could be but I'm going with occam's razor. Tis' the season for winter steelhead.
 
Trout Slayer_7
O. mykiss said:
My first question is is the area accessible to anadramous fish? It’s possible it’s a steelhead, but a summer steelhead would have a different body shape and would be skinny.
It is definitely accessible to anadramous fish but yeah it doesn’t look like a steelhead

Admin said:
Can it be a trout that stayed at home and didn't travel to the ocean and back?
That’s true

jamisonace said:
I am 100% sure it's not a sturgeon.

If I had to venture a guess I would say winter steelhead. Send the pic to ODFW, maybe someone there can give you a conclusive answer.
No I definitely thing it’s a sturgeon ;)

jamisonace said:
I don't know how you can be 100% sure. There are just too many features that are inconsistent with summer steelhead, winter steelhead or salmon. I agree resident rainbow is a possibility but it's shape is more salmon than rainbow.

Here's a 21" McKenzie rainbow and a couple smaller rainbows. Shape and spotting are very different.

I'm at a loss to say anything conclusive.
I totally agree with you!
 
Shaun Solomon
This might seem like a funny question, because rainbows are known to be spring spawners, but do y’all ever encounter fall spawning rainbows?

When I was in Colorado, there were a certain percentage of rainbows I would catch that were upriver, spawning fish that were mixed in with the browns and Kokanee. Actually spawning, mind you, not just eating eggs. I could see them clearly.

I’m not sure if the stocks out here do wacky stuff like that… but I suspect a certain percentage of fish zig when others zag. I think of it as a way the species can be resilient in the face of adversity, and over long time periods might be a factor in the evolution of new species.

Anyway, my gut feeling is that might be a resident fish from the main-stem pulling a Crazy Ivan, running up the creek either to eat eggs or to spawn because it has wires crossed in its head. Call me crazy, but I still think it is a resident. Just a killer fish any way you look at it.

I might be able to rustle up some pics of the fall upriver ‘bows if anyone cares. I caught a few nice ones over the years, mainly in the South Platte drainage.

Cheers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fred and Trout Slayer_7
jamisonace
We all love photos. Post em up if you find them. I would bet we have fish around here that are act the way you describe.

So I don't know anything about fish ID beyond staying out of trouble and I don't care to. I know how to catch them and cook them and that's about it. But my main reason for thinking this fish has seen salt water is its shape. Its a butterball and I don't think resident fish around here have enough to eat to fatten like that. I'd like to see that fish at 5 or 6 years old. I caught an 18 inch fish on the McKenzie South Fork about 15 years ago that was approaching that shape but not really. Wish I had a pic but all I have from that fish is a near death experience and an amazing memory.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7 and Shaun Solomon
Trout Slayer_7
I totally get this my best fishing stories are near death experiences
 
  • Like
Reactions: jamisonace and Shaun Solomon
DOKF
Trout Slayer_7 said:
I totally get this my best fishing stories are near death experiences
I think I will enjoy my similar memories until I am near death myself.
 
Grant22
I’d probably go with a rainbow. In technicality any rainbow under 20” is considered a trout except for the northwest zone where the magic number is 16” so legally it would be considered a rainbow. I’m guessing that it’s fat like that because it’s been eating eggs for the past several months. Nice fish either way tho.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7 and Shaun Solomon
WaveCrawler
Trout Slayer_7 said:
What kind of fish do you guys think this is
Let's examine the facts.... Steelhead are merely anadromus trout. What you are holding looks like a kind of large rainbow (non-anadromus) I see in the Deschutes called a "red-side" and yes they are very hard to tell apart from a Steele.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7
mthrlwd
Trout Slayer_7 said:
What kind of fish do you guys think this is
My take is that it's a fat rainbow that has potentially spawned with sea-run steelhead... it happens - and it's definitely in spawn mode. It could be a jack, for sure... but I'd rule out it being a salmon or full sea-run steelhead. I think it's a spawning fat-ass rainbow trout. Lovely fish dude.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trout Slayer_7
Top Bottom