Category Archive: Science Friday

Science Friday: More on summer and winter steelhead genetics

By John McMillan Two weeks ago we reviewed a study by Prince et al. that discovered a single gene differentiated steelhead which return immature (referred to as pre-mature in the study) to freshwater (i.e., summer steelhead) and those that return in a mature or relatively mature state (i.e., winter steelhead). Anglers have long known there … Continued

Rise of the Phoenix: wild summer steelhead in the Elwha River

By John McMillan, science director, Trout Unlimited Wild Steelhead Initiative   A few years back, while working on the Elwha dam removal project, I donned a wetsuit for one of many snorkel surveys I conducted that summer. I had been snorkeling the main-stem Elwha, but that day – a crisp cool day in mid-October – … Continued

Science Friday: How summer steelhead are genetically different than winters

Many anglers over the years have no doubt wondered why some steelhead return to freshwater during the hottest and driest part of the year. The reasons why are both simple and complex.   The most obvious difference between summer steelhead and their winter run brethren is that they enter freshwater streams in summer and fall, … Continued

Science Friday: Warm water’s influence on the speed of upstream migrating steelhead

The dog days of summer are fully upon us. The predicted forecast for adult summer steelhead returning to the Columbia and Snake River basins is now, unfortunately, shaping up to be worse than expected (and it was already very low). However, it can be difficult to determine how accurate this forecast actually is because at … Continued

Science Friday: Steelhead in hot water, and what it means for catch-and-release

As predicted for summer steelhead in the Columbia River and many other watersheds in Washington and Oregon, something has happened to the fish. There are precious few of them this season. But it’s important to remember that ebb and flow in population size is part-and-parcel with these fish — and for all salmon in general. … Continued

Science Friday: Turn up the A/C

Summer-time is here. That means hot weather and hot water, two things that don’t mix well with a cold-water fish like steelhead.   As we suffer through the largest heat wave of the summer, we wanted to review a piece of research that looked at how adult steelhead alter their behavior and use micro-habitats to … Continued

Science Friday: Ephemeral Streams Provide Key Steelhead Habitat

    Previously we wrote about the importance of ephemeral streams to steelhead. These are smaller waters, typically in headwaters and tributary drainages, segments of which dry back in summer or that flow intermittently. Today we pick up the topic again because of recent developments on the federal policy front that threaten these important habitat … Continued

Science Friday: Hitch-Hiking Smolts

Last week we talked about the importance of spill for out-migrating kelts and smolts in the Columbia Basin. Increasing spill is only one method employed to enhance downstream survival of smolts. As early as the mid-1950s smolts were loaded onto barges and moved downstream past the dams through the lock system. While fisheries managers experimented … Continued

What is a B-run steelhead?

Fisheries managers predict this will be a very bad year for returning B-run steelhead in the Snake River. The Snake, with its headwaters straddling the Teton Range on the Idaho-Wyoming border, is the largest tributary to the Columbia and its intact habitat and steelhead runs are vital to the overall health of Columbia River steelhead … Continued

Science Friday: The different life histories of adult steelhead

Last week we reviewed the terms used to define different stages of the juvenile steelhead life cycle. This week we break down the life stages of adults and describe their different life histories, which are remarkably diverse.   The adult steelhead life stage may be delineated into two categories: adults and kelts. Adults are fish … Continued