New to snohomish again... and clueless on small streams

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Tom Knoberson, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. Preston

    Preston Active Member

    Even in small waters rainbows usually exhibit some degree of adfluvial if not anadromous behavior. As they mature they tend to move downstream seeking out larger waters and better forage; bigger streams, lakes or even, in the case of steelhead, the ocean, returning to the areas where they were spawned only to reproduce in spring. In situations where they find themselves restricted to small waters, above barriers to anadromous migration or where available food is limited, it is quite normal for them to mature and spawn at 6 to 8 inches in length.

    As Roderick Haig-Brown so feelingly put it "... the rainbow is an individualist, a pioneer searching always wider scope; mere rivers confine him, and he goes out with the salmon into the breadth of the sea, to grow himself to the silvered nobility of the steelhead."
     
  2. dflett68

    dflett68 Active Member

    awesome. so the parr marks do remain prominent on some adult rainbows?
     
  3. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I took the wife out the other day. Not so much that I wanted to fish. Just so she could get out of the house. She doesn't FF. She's a worm tosser. We stopped the truck walked ten feet and she got 4 Cutts of 12" or more in less time that it took to write this. I don't eat fish but I love to catch them .

    I also caught fish out of this same hole and the same size with flies.

    I stopped along side this creek we were fishing and showed her the fish that were swimming there. At least you can see fish here.

    Enough gloating for a while. But I did fish in Washington for over 50 years.
     
  4. Thomas Sath

    Thomas Sath Member

    This is why you're my new best friend...;)
    It always is nice to bring the wife along though, so they can see what we do and experience.
     
  5. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    Don't forget about the places close to the road. The other day I bushwhacked my way to spot and had fun with some little fish and a few bigger ones. One the way back I pulled over where the same stream met the road and had pretty much the same luck and same size fish.
     
  6. Thomas Sath

    Thomas Sath Member

    I definitely am going to hit the ones close to the road first, after getting frustrated or not catching any fish is when I'll start bushwhacking...
     
  7. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    This clears up something for me. There is one stream that I fish where a 9" bow is about as large as they get, and most are 6-7". This stream is a small trib to the Yak so I'm guessing that they eventually make their way down to the river where they finish growing. In the same stream the Cutts are generally larger and I get the Ocasional 10"-11" one that looks pretty much like any full grown Cutt with no parr marks.
     
  8. dflett68

    dflett68 Active Member

    i see how that goes to preston's point about the larger fish moving down, but i'm still wondering about fish in the stream i've been enjoying this summer. the only way down for them via washout over several significant falls, unless they would swim over them on purpose to get down stream. but if all the adults did so, there would be no population of fish above the falls. there's no way they are planted, and i'm not talking about falls on the sky. falls on the trib.
     
  9. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    Is it the case that the 6-8" fish keep their par marks but are still mature enough to spawn? Are parr marks just a function of size and not of age?
     
  10. dflett68

    dflett68 Active Member

    good question, but i have seen them on the largest fish i have seen from the stream, 11-12". see the second fish i posted above.
     
  11. Preston

    Preston Active Member

    "parr marks: Dark, oblong or oval markings along the side of the body of most trout and salmon. Particularly prominent in juvenile fish (as camouflage for avoiding predators); typically reduced or absent in adult salmonids."
    Trout and Salmon of North America, Robert J. Behnke, 2002

    It's sometimes very difficult to say anything absolute about nature.
     
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  12. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    Thanks Preston
     
  13. 10incher

    10incher Active Member

    Dragging up an old thread... When I was in Ca. I fished a stream that had both resident rainbows and a small steelhead run. I noticed two distinct size barriers for the parr marks. Seven inches and eleven inches. I suspect that the resident fish were at least partly hybrid with planted trout from the lake above the stream. And that the fish which "matured" at seven inches were likely resident and the ones at eleven inches may have been steelhead parr/smolts. No way to know for sure because I'm not a fisheries biologist! But it seems obvious to some degree. And I suspect, since they DO truck steelies over the falls in the Sky, that the apparent large size of the par marked fish is indicative of one of two things. Either those little creeks are rearing grounds for steelies, or the resident fish that live in the main stem river are large enough that those tribs serve as rearing grounds for residents. Either way those fish are juveniles and those tribs are rearing grounds. I mean, if all the fish are parr marked!?! I know this is the case with many western cascade streams, but I might be inclined to NOT pester those fish on principal.
     
  14. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I was always under the impression that if the fish were small, 6 to 10 inches that they were smolts. Fish bigger than that 11 inches and up were resident fish.

    Many years ago they dropped lots of fish out of Whitehorse rearing ponds that were 7 to 12 inches long. For two weeks, they hit everything you threw at them. Then the fish started to die off. They weren't hooked bad that just started to die. I thought that they were to big to release or that there was something wrong with them.
     
  15. 10incher

    10incher Active Member

    Stocking fish in waters that support native trout?!? My mind is "whirling" at the thought.
     
  16. dflett68

    dflett68 Active Member

    they truck steelhead over the falls on the sky itself, but do they truck them above the falls on the tribs? i doubt that, at least on the one i've been referencing. and you can't fish those tribs below their barrier falls because they are rearing grounds. so all of the fish i've posted pics of are from above multiple barrier falls and are clearly residents. i have seen one fish show itself at over 14". to suggest an 11" fish in such a stream is not sexually mature seems implausible to me.
     
    Gary Knowels likes this.
  17. Jim Speaker

    Jim Speaker Active Member

    From what I've seen, not that I'm any kinda expert or anything, the presence of parr marks and the size at which they are sexually mature is highly variable and environmental. Sexual maturity is a result of age, not size, of course. And the size at sexual maturity is a result of growth rate based on the availability of food, temperature, oxygenation and chemistry of the water.

    I once caught about an 8-inch trout in a little creek I was checking out near Maple Valley that was a dark colored rainbow, with parr marks, and a very distinct hooked jaw. It was healthy , though not fat. This 8-incher was in fact the largest trout I caught in my several trips to that little creek and came from the sweet spot in the only real honey hole that I found. I came to the conclusion that this was a breeding age male, and that it was likely the alpha fish in the pool since I'd probably caught or seen just about all of them.

    There's another little crick down there I fished quite a number of times, and the largest fish I was getting there were 10-inches - not many of those lunkers though! They were clearly the mature adults in the system, and the 8-9-inch fish also exhibited mature traits. The color of all the bows in that system was extremely dark, and they all had parr marks. That high gradient plunge-pool-after-plunge-pool creek is in heavy forest. All that shade was clearly the reason for the dark coloration, and if I had to venture a guess, for the retention of the parr marks as additional camouflage.

    I'm sure we've all noticed the dark waters produce dark trout, and bright waters bright trout. It's simple natural selection. Heck, give em enough time in a system and they change color substantially, just look at the silver-sided blue-backed Beardsleii... they match their environment perfectly.

    Just my empirical observations, maybe worth 2-cents.
     
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  18. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    You can't call the Beckler a rearing pond. It does get Steelhead. And the same can't be said for the Foss or the Tye. I've caught 18 band 19 inch fish out of the Beckler. I don't believe that these were Resident fish. I believe that they were first timers. I got me a 21" Steelhead out of the Foss. It was laying in among a pod of Sea Run Cutts.
     
  19. dflett68

    dflett68 Active Member

    that's true. the original post, and i think most of the discussion, has been about small stream tributary fisheries. at least by my standards, the beckler, foss, miller, et. al. would not be categorized as small streams.
     
  20. 10incher

    10incher Active Member

    I didn't know you you were talking about falls on tribs. Those would have to be resident fish of course.