Other names: Steelhead
Steelhead and rainbow trout are essentially the same species with varying life histories. Steelhead are the sea-run form (anadromous) while rainbow trout are typically stream resident their entire lives. Both forms may be present in park streams. However, this has not yet been substantiated. Steelhead are typically much larger in body size (average 20-30 inches, up to 40 inches and 20 pounds) because they spend time in the marine environment feeding and growing at rates (up to 1 inch/month) that are not possible for stream resident fish. Yet very few fish in this area meet the 36 inch recreational angling minimum size limit. Steelhead/rainbow trout are often confused with cutthroat trout. However, they lack small teeth on the floor of the mouth behind the tongue (see coastal cutthroat trout description). They can be distinguished from Pacific salmon species by a shorter head, a maxillary (upper jaw) that does not extend much beyond the posterior margin of the eye, and wide caudal peduncle. Ocean going fish are chrome bright, with a dark grey/black back, and fine dark spots on the dorsal surface and both lobes of the caudal fin. Spawning fish are typically darker in coloration and develop a pink or red stripe along the lateral line.