Steelhead salmon (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are commonly known as trout, but in fact they are a species of salmon native to the Pacific region. For example, we delineate fish into life histories based on how long they spend in freshwater. Steelhead have flatter, more square tails. Rainbow trout is among the most beautiful of all salmonid species, and it ranks as one of the top game species in the world. The most basic difference between both fish is quite simple; rainbow trout reside and always stay in freshwater, while steelhead are anadromous, meaning that they migrate to the ocean. Today, the Pacific Salmon Foundation still lists steelhead alongside the salmon species it works to conserve, calling the steelhead's classification a "hotly debated" topic. Identification & Biology: Rainbow trout are unusual in that there are two forms which sometimes share the same habitat. Atlantic Salmon has a narrower caudal peduncle when compared to Brown Trout. These… Steelhead are highly regarded game fish and the steelhead … Steelhead undergo a process called smolting during which they change physiologically to adapt for life at sea. Rainbow Trout Vs. Steelhead – The Difference. Rainbow Trout are a type of ocean-going trout with two branches of species. Other Names: salmon trout. This species is native to the western U.S. where steelhead inhabit the coastal waters and rainbow trout live in rivers, streams, and lakes. Coho salmon reintroductions have occurred elsewhere in the Columbia River Basin. Substitute steelhead trout for salmon in most recipes. Steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Land locked steelheads are also known as rainbow trout; in fact that is their common name. British Columbia Salmon Fishing, How to fish and Way to go. The two primary species that are most commonly encountered in our commercial and recreational fisheries are Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon. Steelhead have a longer, skinnier body shape than coho and Chinook salmon, usually no hook nose on males, pink cheek and flanks on mature males, small numerous spots on body and tail. Steelhead and salmon are anadromous fish, which means they hatch in freshwater rivers and streams, but then migrate to the ocean where they grow large. Trautman, Milton B., 1973. Unlike most salmon, steelhead can survive spawning, and can spawn in multiple years. The parr of both are identical (17). Click on the mystery fish page to find out more!. Occasionally, a reddish streak shows up on their sides. Steelhead migrate to the ocean while rainbow trout stay in streams. Anglers are a keen bunch and many are aware that different species of salmon and trout have slightly different preferences in habitat. Related Reading: Diving Deeper Into Farmed vs Wild Fish. Some migrate after their first year, but most wait until after two years. How to tell winter from summer run steelhead. A steelhead trout is scientifically known as the oncorhynchus mykiss. A steelhead, the clerk explained, selling for $4.50 a pound, or 25 cents less than the salmon. Thirteen surviving species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead are protected under the Endangered Species Act, including the Middle Fork Salmon River chinook salmon… Coho Salmon: Steelhead Trout: Male coho salmon have the big noses called a ‘kypes.’ When female coho salmon dig nests called redds, their scales flake off, leaving large white areas on their tails where bones and cartilage are exposed. Seattle, WA. Others stay and spend the rest of their lives in fresh water. Since it never grows back, the lack of the adipose fin on an adult fish makes it easy to identify as of hatchery origin…and, therefore, in many rivers, legal to keep (check the regs before you go to make sure! The links below take you to information on some of the basics of salmon fishing for the beginning angler. Unlike salmon, steelhead don’t die after spawning, and some end up returning to the ocean. Rainbow trout and steelhead are ray-finned fishes in the salmon family, and they are one of the top sport fish in North America. It has more flavor, thicker meat, and more nutritional value. They have a straight (not forked) tail. They are a solid gray until their skin darkens at spawning time. This species-level ordering was consistent with results from the West Coast Fish Climate Vulnerability Assessment (M. Haltuch, NOAA Fisheries, personal communication), which ranked Chinook salmon vulnerability very high, and coho, sockeye, steelhead, and chum high. Steelhead trout is often confused with rainbow trout. As the young go downstream, they pass adults moving upstream to spawn. Rainbow trout and steelhead are the same species, but they have different lifestyles. It is dark olive in color and usually has a heavily speckled body with pink stripes along the sides of their bodies. Now that you know all about identifying salmon in streams, test yourself! ). Common Name(s): King salmon, spring salmon Description: The Chinook salmon is silver in color with dark spots. Genetically, Rainbow Trout and Steelhead are the same species, Oncorhynchus mykiss (O, mykiss), but both fish live vastly different lives. Steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species, but rainbow are freshwater only, and steelhead are anadromous, or go to sea. The sea going rainbow is known as the "STEELHEAD" (19). Compared to Atlantic salmon, which is often found in thick cuts, steelhead trout are smaller and thinner, and cook more quickly. There are five species of Pacific salmon native to North America: Chinook (king), coho (silver), sockeye (red), chum (dog), and pink (humpy) salmon. It is possible that Atlantic salmon have escaped from aquaculture facilities and dispersed into the area where these unknowns were found. Weidlich, Laurie M. 1986. Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) issued a five-year permit to Cooke Aquaculture to farm all-female, triploid (sterile) rainbow trout/steelhead in Puget Sound. Steelhead migrate to the sea throughout the year. The tail of Atlantic Salmon is more forked than Brown Trout, although the tail of juvenile Brown Trout are slightly forked. Steelhead trout is often mistaken for salmon, as they both have bright orange-pink flesh that cooks to opaque. Steelhead Trout vs. Salmon . Most veteran Lake Superior anglers can identify a steelhead just by their general appearance. Kokanee Salmon are landlocked in lakes and even those in rivers do not have the urge to seek the ocean. Indigenous salmonids include steelhead/redband trout, bull trout, and Chinook salmon. In Atlantic Salmon, the maxillary does not extend beyond the eye. There are a number of species of salmonids that may be encountered in the ocean off Oregon. Earning Their Salt. For information about salmon and trout identification in King County, please contact Jennifer Vanderhoof, Senior Ecologist.This program is conducted in cooperation with the King County Water and Land Resources Division, Bellevue Stream Team, Redmond Stream Team, and … Salmon and steelhead, species of anadromous fish, once were prolific in the Columbia River. A Guide to the Collection and Identification of Presmolt Pacific Salmon in Alaska with an Illustrated Key. Steelhead usually are good sized, running from three to eight pounds. The steelhead branch spends most of their time in the ocean, while the main branch spends all of its time in freshwater. Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, BC. Steelhead salmon are ocean-going rainbow trout. Farm-raised salmon is typically fattier than wild-caught and has more calories, but is still very nutritious. The anadromous form called "Steelhead" migrate to the ocean, though they must return to fresh water to reproduce. But just in case you’re curious right now, here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between two species that are really close. The percentage of steelhead which return a second time to spawn typically ranges from 20 to 30% but may be as low 10% or as high as 50%. One way to tell a coho salmon from a steelhead rainbow trout is by the tail. The Chinook can be distinguished from other salmon is by its black mouth and gums. Guide and tips to identification of salmon and steelhead in the ocean . In the Eastern Bering Sea Climate Vulnerability Assessment, all five salmon species scored high in sensitivity but low in … If a barrier, natural or otherwise, blocks their way, a trout that might have migrated to salt water will stay in fresh water. Lake and stream dwellers tend to be lighter as well. Rainbow Trout have two branches, or subspecies considered Rainbow Trout. Pollard, W.R., et al, 1997. When they reach maturity they return back to their freshwater birthplaces to spawn. I think the other different part for steelhead is that they have more life histories than any salmon species. Field Identification of Coastal Juvenile Salmonids. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS ABFL-2. Prior to release from the hatchery, the fin is removed from juvenile steelhead (via scissors or automated machine). Rainbow Trout. Unlike salmon, they don’t easily lose their scales when they are flopping on the floor of the boat or being handled. The spots on the Chinook salmon will generally cover all the head, back, dorsal and adipose fin as well as the squared tail. This is only a starting point, and is not meant to cover every aspect of salmon fishing. Steelhead are similar to other Pacific salmon in many ways but for one glaring exception: they can be repeat spawners (as are Cutthroat trout). Others that may be encountered include steelhead (Rainbow Trout), Chum Salmon, Pink Salmon … Varieties . King salmon or Chinook salmon is the best salmon money can buy, though also one of the rarer species. Steelhead are “iteroparous” and may spawn more than once while Pacific salmon are “semelparous” and spawn only once and then die. Steelhead creates confusion over whether it’s a salmon or a trout, and it even has the nickname of ‘salmon trout.’ While biologically considered to be a species of trout, the steelhead is a member of the salmon family and acts like a salmon in its migratory patterns ( 14 ). A coho, like the one in this photo, has a pronounced forked tail. Coho salmon males have dark red markings running along their bellies from their gills to pelvic fins. Bizzy Bee 2,189 views accurate, identification guides. We’re very fortunate to have a variety of types of Salmon and abundance of those stocks in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon exist in Oregon, Washington and on the Columbia River nearly year around as different species take their turn in the limelight. In fact, some steelhead never make it out to the ocean in the first place. The term steelhead is used to differentiate between those rainbows that stay in fresh water permanently and those that go out to the ocean. WISCONSIN’S LAKE MICHIGAN STEELHEAD STRAINS ... Steelhead is the name given to the silver ocean going form of this species. Nonnative rainbow trout have been introduced, as have brown trout. Steelheads also tend to be more silvery than the freshwater Rainbow form. The most sought after of these fish is the Chinook or King Salmon. A life history is what a fish does to achieve maturity. After getting your feet wet, a good angler will constantly search for additional information to … Their classification is hotly debated: they used to be placed in the genus Salmo (like Atlantic salmon); now most scientists place them in the Oncorhynchus genus, while others disagree because of their repeat spawning. Identifying the differences between Pink (Humpey), Silver ( Coho), and King (Chinook) Salmon - Duration: 5:41. For example, steelhead prefer riffles, runs, and other habitats with faster water and larger gravel and cobble. On the other hand, coho salmon have a stronger affinity for pools and slow water habitats, especially those with large wood for cover.