Steelhead Strains

Discussion in 'Steelhead Talk' started by jojopro, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. I was checking out the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Fishing Report site the picture of the steelhead Mepps caught with the left pectoral fin clip. Apparently that means that the fish is a Ganaraska strain of steelhead that was likely stocked in Ontario, Canada in 2006. The site also mentions that a right pectoral fin clip may be a Michigan or Ontario fish stocked in 2005. I know that Ohio stocks Manistee strain steelhead now, but I'm not sure how long they have been doing so. I'm curious as to how many different strains of steelhead are swimming in Lake Erie tribs? What strains do each state/province stock? What are the physical differences and tendencies of each strain? What percentage of our area's fish population does each strain account for?
  2. These are some great questions. I'm looking forward to the answers.

  3. Ohio's formal annual steelhead stocking started in the early 80s, stocking a 'generic' rainbow trout. Stockings happened before then (70s), but were mostly adult sized trout for more immediate catch-n-keep purposes. In the late 80s, the Ohio DNR developed and consistently stocked the london strain steelhead (1988/1989). Known for their 'football' shape, they were dumped into the four major northeast Ohio streams (conneaut, grand, chagrin, rocky) throughout the 90s. A few brown trout were stocked in Geneva harbor for a few years during that period (1984-1989). That program was ended due to bad returns, probably all running to the deep water out east and returning to New York streams.

    Developing an arrangement with Michigan to swap steelhead fry for channel catfish eggs, Ohio DNR started a test program by stocking manistee strain in the conneaut creek in 1990. These stockings in conneaut continued through 1995, when the program was expanded to the other three stocked rivers. These fish spawn in the spring, providing a longer season from September through May.

    Due to somewhat underachieving return numbers, a shorter period in the rivers (September thru early winter), and the costs of rearing the londons from eggs at the London hatchery, the program was discontinued a bit after 2000, replaced with an increase in the number of manistees. The vermilion river was added to the stocked streams a few years later.

    Fish in the Ohio tribs can come from many sources = Ohio's manistees, PA's strain(s), which are overstocked into a handful of small creeks, Michigan's manistees from the huron (MI) river or from other great lakes to the north, and New York's/Canada's steelhead stockings. Added to this are stocking of adult trout stocked by local and county parks (like the kamloops strain placed in the upper rocky each spring and adult london strain stocked in hinkley lake) that may make it out to the lake and back to some trib the next season.

    Ohio quit performing the fin clipping with the london strain. Other states are still doing so, but not in great numbers (2005/2006 MI, right pectoral).
  4. The past 2 years I have seen what I believe to be a "Skamania Steelhead" caught from a Ohio westside river. Skamania are long and skinny. Ironically these 2 fish pictures below were 2 days apart but one year later and in October. Both caught out of the same river and on spinners and faught like mad. Check out the tail, like a paddle for a boat.

    My nephew caught it this year and it was 31" long:

    My friend Rick caught this last year and it was 33.5 inches and 10 pounds:
  5. How about one missing both pectoral fins, caught one this winter and thought that to be odd, it had a hard time swimming away. Like it was Drunk!

    Also have caught a few missing just one recently. Never really gave it much thought until this post.
  6. I think I may have got one of those a few weeks back.


    Fish was 32'' long but not as thick as I thought it should be? This fish fought unlike any other steelhead I ever caught. Leeped several times and took me way to long to land.

    (Is there any way to shrink down my pics)
  7. The tail on yours in not as big. Your steelhead looks like a Manistee.

    FYI: After you save your picture in photobucket, click edit at the top of picture. Then click resize :D .
  8. Oh, I just thought it was long and skinny???

    Thanks Mepps
  9. Thanks guys. Some very interesting info so far...hope to hear even more. It just amazes me how there are all these different strains of one species of fish swimming through the same bodies of water. All in the same day you can catch steelies that all look so different...some are football shaped whereas others look like torpedos ranging in colors from shiny chrome to olive and pink to black and red. Any other species of fish that I catch every fish looks exactly the same as the next, but not with steelhead.

  10. while i agree those 2 fish do bare a lot of the skamania characteristics and several i have caught over the years have as well i still am not convinced that skamanias can survive in lake erie given their spawning habits.

    a few notes on skams, these fish will stage river mouths on lake michigan from early june till mid july when the waters of lake michigan turn over pushing cool water into shore. once a cold rain raises river/creek/ditch levels these fish will proceed upstream. these rivers/creeks/ditches are all spring fed in that area and will remain for the most part relatively cool during the summer months. these fish are almost no comparison to any steelhead that lake erie holds when it comes to the battle. their long slender bodies and big block tails allow them to make runs so fast it will blow your mind! they are also very acrobatic fish usually jumping more than 5 times during a battle. another notable is the fact that they do tire relatively fast and generally fight to the death. here's a couple pics of some skams i caught at st joe last summer fishing the pier. these fish were caught at night on shrimp tails and alewives.



    fish were around the 34 to 35 inch range and weight about 13 to 14 lbs. note the clipped ventral fins as well. those fish were stocked by wisconsin.

    now, the reasons i feel skams are not/will not be in lake erie. first off lake erie is not a cold water lake. we do not experience a turnover in the summer or pockets of cold water moving in close to shore which would allow for these fish to survive the warm while staging. also, lake erie tribs are mainly supplied by runoff and rainwater. without spring water feeding them the water levels remain very low in the summer months and the temps up into the 80's and even 90's at times. these fish while hardy COULD NOT survive these temps.

    ....and thats my 2 cents in a little less than a thousand words :D
  11. From what I have read skamania are a SUMMER run strain, not to knock your long ,skinny, fish ,lol, read Matt Supinski's book , he devotes an entire chapter to them. read the book anyway if you are at all serious about catching steel.
  12. I actually caught one from BR that was missing both pec fins. It kinda freaked me out, at first I thought it was deformed or had a disease.
  13. Meps here is a Skamania steelie from the Maumee River, the guy was fishing for walleye when this thing bit

  14. Here's one I caught last year that ShortDrift said was a skamania.

    Attached Files:

  15. lets not forget about chambers creek strain

  16. there are a lot of steelhead caught out of the maumee during the walleye run. there is NO WAY to tell whether a fish is truly a skamania when they are in the river unless you catch it in june, july, or august. steelhead in lake erie come in all shapes and sizes, long and slender doesn't mean skamania. there are a bunch of different strains running around in lake erie ranging from mainistee, gnarski...on to the PA mutts and who knows what other naturally produced mutts.

    my thoughts, unless these fish make it from southern lake michigan, up the michigan coast, through the straits of mackinac, down the lake huron coast, through lake st clair, down the detroit river, and finally into lake erie there is no way possible for them to have gotten into lake erie. while kings have been known to pass from lake huron into lake michigan i highly doubt that steelhead would be able to make that journey from a cold water environment to a warm water environment.

    the only way you could be certain if a summer caught fish is a skamania would be if you got him staging within a mile or two of a river mouth during the months of july and august, experienced the greatest battle you have ever had from a steelhead, and he showed the obvious characteristics
  17. I'm with duckdude on this one that's a spawned out male from the looks of it.
    Most drop backs look like that. They have'nt eaten in several months.

    A lot of steelheads are lond and skinny, that does'nt make them Skamania's.

    Like Duckdude said, no skamania's are stocked anywhere near lake erie, and that's a long swim from Lake Mich. All those fish are just skinny Pa or Ohio fish.

    I think alot of guys are just wishing for some different fish.

  18. Hey Duckdude...

    Nice net ya' go there.....:)

  19. it's real nice now that i put the deeper net on it :cool:
  20. Depends on when they were caught. New York stocked skamanias in their Erie tribs (cattaraugus creek) from the late 80s thru the mid 90s. They gave it up along with the salmon stockings to be replaced by steelheads and browns.