I got a message from Feynner on October 30 that there was a female steelhead trout up in Devil’s Creek Flat. Feynner saw it digging its red (nest) there in what is some of the best spawning habitat in the watershed. I was able to get up there on November 4 and 5 to get some video of the fish.
When I arrived to the pool, there was a big male lying next to the female. I was pleasantly surprised to see she had been found by a partner. I didn’t see any spawning behavior but was able to film both fish both above and below water. The female was passing over the red back and forth and seemed to possibly be fanning the eggs. However, she was rubbing over some larger rocks in the pool as if she was scratching herself on them. Over the rest of the week, she developed a yellow-green color, starting at the head. Her body was covered in scratches and bruises and her tail was rubbed raw from digging. It was remarkable to see how beat up she was from making the run and building the red. That green color got worse over the next days and eventually we found her dead on the side of the main pool on November 10th. The female ended up being 30 inches and the male seemed to be about 6 inches longer than that.
It’s amazing to think that this fish came up from the ocean, spawned and was dead within two to four weeks. We had a big flood on October 13 (See blog entry from October 15) and so I’m assuming that the fish came in on the back end of it. The water stayed relatively high for a week after the rain. This fish has returned pretty early, and it is interesting to think about how early her offspring will be entering the creek. Winter is the prime growing season for trout in the creek so they will have a significant advantage over fish that hatch in the late winter or early spring.
I will post some pictures and hopefully a video of the fish when I can process them.