Scientific name: Oncorhynchus mykiss
Other names: Steelie, Chromer
Introduction: Oncorhynchus mykiss is aspecies of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. There are two fish related to thisspecies: rainbow trout and steelhead trout. The first only lives in freshwaterand the second are sea-run.
Distribution: They are distributed throughout thePacific coast of the United States,along the coast of British Columbia inCanada and Alaska, some rivers in Northern Europe and South America. In Argentina, the Santa Cruz Riverhas the only run ofAtlantic steelhead.
Weightand measures: Steelhead size variesaccording to race, the amount of time they spend in the ocean and foodavailability. The world record was caught by an angler in the Skeena Riverwatershed, measuring 1.1 meters in length and weighing 19.1 kg.
Steelhead smolts remain in the river 2 to 3 years before heading to the sea. After 2 to 3years they go back to fresh water.
Just 10% to 20 % of the specimens return to layeggs for the second time, while 60 to 70 % of land-locked steelheads go back totheir natal streams to spawn. In both cases, most steelheads returning to spawn are females.
Studies show that steelheads that live longer in the ocean are larger;because of the abundant food they can grow up to 1 inch per month.
Appearance: Coloration is highly variable depending uponsize, sexual condition, and habitat. Their back ranges from a greenish yellowto a blue-gray color with silvery colored sides; belly area is white to paleyellow in color. Large numbers of relatively small black spots occur over thewhole body, but spotting is generally heavier along dorsal areas.
Diet: During the oceanphase they feed on crustaceous and other fish, and once they reach freshwater,unlike other Pacific salmons, they keep on eating eventually.
Sport: this species is a highly desiredsportfish and a popular target for fly fishers. It is characterized by its unpredictability and strong fights with hugeruns and jumps thattest any experienced angler.