San Bernardino National Forest Steelhead! (Not So Much)

A few weeks ago, I went off the beaten path and explored a new stream in the San Bernardino National Forest. After hiking in, I came across a large, deep pool. First cast resulted in a missed strike, second cast with a micro jig was nailed-hookup! I quickly figured out that this was no small fry, as my drag was getting burned all around the pool. Took me a while to get a look at the fish, eventually it surfaced and I was very surprised. It was an extraordinarily large rainbow trout, especially for the size of this stream! A few more heart pounding moments later and I was able to land it, snag a few pictures and release it back to its water domain.

I've spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the origins of this fish. Initially, I suspected that someone had dumped a large stocked rainbow from a nearby public lake or pond into this portion of the creek. However, this fish did not have any tell-tale hatchery signs, fin clippings nor did it have the usual wear and tear of a hatchery fish. Secondly, I hooked into a similar fish just a bit downstream, of roughly the same size and markings, also in a deeper pool. I've discussed this with a few anglers who frequent the area and the general consensus is as follows: these fish are born in the tiny creek I was fishing at, then travel downstream to a large, deep section of the creek/holding pond-style area. Here, they spend their time getting fat, then eventually travel back upstream to lay their eggs, much like a sea-run steelhead would do, albeit on a smaller scale.

So, this fish isn't quite a steelhead, but it sure is doing its best to behave as one in the limited water environment of the Inland Empire! Sadly, there didn't appear to be any juvenile fish or even normal 10'' in the creek for the 1/2 mile section I explored. Hopefully these larger fish are able to spawn successfully and replenish this creek again! Catching this fish was an absolute thrill and it's really impressive to me that such a fish could survive, let alone mature to reach such a size in this small watershed. Tight lines!

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September 19, 2012 at 5:59 AM delete

Glad you were able to catch something! It's a beauty.


Be nice.