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Encyclopedia > Steelhead Trout
Oncorhynchus mykiss

Rainbow Trout
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Salmoniformes
Family: Salmonidae
Genus: Oncorhynchus
Species: mykiss
Binomial name
Oncorhynchus mykiss
Walbaum, 1792

The Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), also called steelhead trout, is a single species of trout native to the Pacific Ocean and in North American rivers and lakes west of the Rocky Mountains. Rainbow Trout are the smaller variety, found only in freshwater. Steelhead spend their adult lives in the ocean, but return to spawn in the streams in which they were hatched. Rainbow trout have been introduced to at least 45 countries, and every continent except Antarctica. They occur in cold, cool streams up to 4500m in elevation.

Rainbows and steelhead have small black spots along their back, dorsal fin and caudal fin. Rainbows have a pink streak that runs from the gill cover to the caudal fin. The color of a rainbow's back varies from blue or green to a yellow-green or brown. Steelhead usually lack the pink stripe, except when young or spawning, and have chrome-colored sides. Rainbows are distinguished from their cousins, the cutthroat trout, by their short maxilla, which reaches to, but not past the rear margin of the eye. Rainbow trout also lack hyoid teeth, a feature present in cutthroat trout.

Rainbows range from 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches) in length. Steelheads grow longer, ranging from 50 to 100cm (20 to 40 inches) in length. Steelhead range in weight from 2.5 kg to 10 kg.

Like salmon, steelhead are anadromous: they return to their original hatching ground to spawn. Different populations of steelheads migrate upriver at different times of the year. Summer-run steelhead migrate between May and October, before their reproductive organs are fully mature. They mature in freshwater before spawning in the spring. Winter-run steelhead mature fully in the ocean before migrating, between November and April, and spawn shortly after returning. Unlike salmon, steelhead are iteroparous and may make several spawning trips between fresh and salt water.

Redband trout, sometimes called "Redsides," are another subspecies of Rainbow Trout and are typically found further inland than regular Rainbow Trout.

  Results from FactBites:
Trout Basics (2201 words)
Trout are cold-blooded beings and unlike humans, their body temperature varies and is directly related to the surrounding environment.
Like the brown trout, their optimum water temperature is around 50 to 60 degrees but it can also tolerate temperatures up to and exceeding 70 degrees as long as there is plenty of oxygen and a cool place to retreat to once in awhile.
Steelhead trout (or “steelies”) are simply rainbow trout that have access to the ocean or larger lakes (like the Great Lakes).
Dworshak NFH Calendar of Events (1084 words)
Steelhead trout, spring chinook salmon, and rainbow trout.
Steelhead trout and salmon are both members of the salmon family and are "anadromous" (fish that migrate from fresh water to the ocean and then back to fresh water as adults).
The steelhead spawning season is in the spring, generally each Tuesday from early February to the middle of May. Spring chinook salmon spawning season is in the late summer, completed in a short time from middle August into early September.
  More results at FactBites »



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