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I thought I would move the tangent that we had gone off in the Vedder Dec 6 report. There is a lot of good information that has presented itself but without a proper location and title I think that a lot of this information will be missed. So I weeded through the useless stuff and copied the posts on the identification. So here we go....

steelie 99 said:
FISH ON Here is a lilttle something to get you all in the Christmas, Steelhead season!! Gotta love those days, :shock: :lol:
What a fun day SN, what a fun day. :p



Steelie
ribwart said:
actually, this is a good time to do an identification test on these fish...pictures can sometimes cloud things, with flash etc, but I think these are great shots...we could use this to identify these fish...what can we say about each one?
Wild or Hatchery, Doe or buck? What else? Say why you think so...
Don't be afraid of being wrong, just give it a shot.
We don't know for certain regardless because those fish were released, but it would be good to identify some features that help in this process of "knowing what ya caught"...
rib
ribwart said:
Ok I'll try and jumpstart things a little bit...looking at those fish on page 4...

- those fish are not sexually mature yet...so their features are not as pronounced...

- we still look for the same things though...

- certain features give clues as to their nature

- is it a hatchery or wild fish, male or female, etc...

some observations can give us information that helps us to identify the characteristics of the fish we have caught...if we use the pictures as an example, what might we be able to say about these steelhead?
marko said:
WEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLL !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Both are wild my initial thought tells me the first ones a hen end the second
is a buck but they could both be mobies for all I know.
ribwart said:
Yeah...I see both are wild...for sure!!! Wild steelhead, luv em. :D

I think the first one is a buck though. Look at the nose, it's sharper, longer looking...Also a leaner, longer fish...These fish aren't sexually mature yet remember...the features would be much more pronounced in say...february or march.

I think the second one is a Doe... it has more of a snub nose, and is heavier in the front end. Again not quite sexually mature yet, so it's likely just starting to produce eggs, in a few months she'll be ready. I could be wrong about that, but the fish looks a little chunkier up front, possible the way fat is stored when eggs are starting to develop.

There's more though...which has been in the river longer?
ribwart said:
yes they are nice fish...aren't they? I keep thinking of the last couple times I was in there...there were quite a few more fish this year than past years from what I remember, maybe it was a bumper year for summers just like the winters were last season....

As for the kids and their last few posts...

Look Guys....I don't know what was said or between whom, but take it outside next time will ya...???? This was a perfectly good thread, don't ruin it for the rest of us. :evil: I have fished in there a couple times this year and I assure you there was no shortage of fish to be found if you knew where to look, so going off on this tangent like you kids did really was a mute point the entire time. You guys making your private issues public really detracts from the enjoyment I get from this website and I am sure others feel the same way. Next time you guys get your buns in knots over something completely unrelated to the thread, have some respect, bite your tongue and say it in pm's. I know I have lost a lot of respect for you guys due to the way you handled that, it really is disappointing to see someone blatently hijack a thread like that for personal disputes. PARTICULARLY when others are obviously trying to keep the thread on track!!! It would be good to see you guys learn from this and consider you are not the only ones who use this site. People really do look at you in a different light when you pull stuff like that. I know I will find it very difficult to take any of you seriously after this.


BarkleyJames...I agree, I think the first fish has been in the river maybe a week or so and the second has likely been in the river for a month or more...speaking in relative terms of course, as it is impossible to determine how long a fish has been in the river from our perspective...again we're trying to garnish this information from pictures, so it is not a perfect science, but I think the observations you and others have made here are quite valid. Hopefully anyone who may have been interested in learning something about identifying their catch, can now get a better idea of some of the things to look for...

As for the vedder.... Does anyone have any recent reports on visibility? Did it come down as snow all night, or did it turn to rain? I am hoping to scout it out tomorrow and am trying to get a feel for what to expect...
Thx,

Ribwart
Birdnest Bob said:
I like Ribwart's question, as I am still learning my fish (fish school?). Rib, you said "I think the first one is a buck though. Look at the nose, it's sharper, longer looking...Also a leaner, longer fish...These fish aren't sexually mature yet remember...the features would be much more pronounced in say...february or march..."
First of all, beats me how you can tell. But secondly, that is really interesting 'cause I thought they were coming up the river to spawn. Can you tell me more about that?
Thanks,
ribwart said:
Bridnest Bob...Those fish are summer run steelhead. They will come into the river starting usually in august, and will overwinter in the river. Come spring, they will spawn just like the winters will...but when they first come into the river they are not ready to spawn yet. They will migrate up close to their spawning grounds and stay there all winter. They will slowly start to develop sexually and pair off. They won't really start to show their true colors until they get closer to spawning, so it can be difficult to discern their character. Once they are ready to spawn, they will move into the areas where their redds will inevitably be set up. I may be wrong in my identification of these fish, but regardless, I always look for several different things when trying to identify what I have caught. I look at the nose, the maxilliary and gill plate, basic body morphology etc...Often males will have a longer head than females. I will also look at the upper lip versus the lower lip. On males, often it is very pronounced and obvious that the upper lip is longer than the females. Similarly, females often have a shorter gill plate and the maxilliary will not extend beyond the eye, whereas in males it is often more pronounced. these pics are tough, it is often easier to make a distinction if you are doing it in person. But you can look for a few clues that will give you a better idea what you have. The coloration is a giveaway though. Summers develop their beautiful colors once they have been in the river for a while. You can see that here in the second pic. Hope that helps Bob.
Rib
Sanderson said:
I'm pretty sure that both of those fish that s99 posted are winter fish. I know exactly where they came from. Looks can be decieving. Here is a pic of my first hatchery winter fish of last year from the Vedder on Dec. 8. As you can see, it is already blushing and showing a bit of colour. It was not a bullet chrome fish and I seriously doubt that it was in the river for more than a few days. That is something that I have noticed about the very early arriving winters, they usually have a fair amount of colour already or as Barry Thornton called them in his book Steelhead when alluding to early fish in an Island river, "pinking" fish.

ribwart said:
ok. good, the thread takes some direction finally. I would like to discuss the identification angle a bit further. Sandy...when you say you're pretty sure they are winter fish, what clues lead you to towards that conclusion? Not to say your wrong, I don't claim to know it all, and it doesn't have anything to do with that...it's about having the right information, and knowing and understanding some of the subtler dynamics of fishing...
I would like to, and think it would be good to talk this through not only for myself, but also for others who may be interested. What factors do you take into consideration when determining whether a fish is a winter or summer run? What do you see in these pics and/or when you are identifying a fish "in person" ? What do you look for? This is the kind of info most people don't often get exposed to, or look for for that matter...

rib
Sanderson said:
ribwart said:
I would like to discuss the identification angle a bit further. Sandy...when you say you're pretty sure they are winter fish, what clues lead you to towards that conclusion? I would like to, and think it would be good to talk this through not only for myself, but also for others who may be interested. What factors do you take into consideration when determining whether a fish is a winter or summer run? What do you see in these pics and/or when you are identifying a fish "in person" ? What do you look for?

rib
In the pic that I posted if I had caught that fish in a river that had summer runs in it I would have a bit of a hard time saying wether it was a summer or a winter but since the Vedder only has a run of hatchery winter fish it makes ID pretty simple. On the s99's pics the thing that says winter fish to me is the a) over all condition of the fish and b) in particular the fins. As you can see the fins are clear, almost transparent. Fish that have been in the river for a while lose the clearness of the fins, particularly coastal summer fish in mid December.

In this first pic we have a July coastal summer run. As you can see it has the transparent fins and chrome appearance of a fresh run fish with a slight pink blush. Although the spotting is not as prominant as in the pics in question it is easily attributed to strain variance and individual fish variance. It is quite common to catch two fish in the same run that were obviously both fresh fish but looked quite different in appearance.




As you can see in this pic of a female coastal summer run caught in Nov, the colouring is much more pronounced and the fins are much more yellow in colour which is typical for them at that time of year.




Then we have a coastal summer run caught in mid December. Quite coloured and the fins are a yellow/brown colour which follows the overall darkening of the fish as it spends more and more time in fresh water.




Winter fish follow the same pattern as their stay in fresh water lengthens.

Fresh coastal winter run with clear/white fins indicitive of a fish recently in from the ocean.



Late Feb winter coastal steelhead. Notice the overall body darkening, including the fins.



April coastal Kelt. Notice the scaring, black mouth area and almost black fins.




IMO the pics that he posted are of the same (dorsal fin notch, anal fin notch and lower jaw) winter run fish. Amazing what a different angle can do to the same fish. What makes you say summer fish? Slight colouring alone?
ribwart said:
Now that's a good post...I'm just sitting here enjoying my morning coffee, getting ready to hit the vedder for the first trip of the season...I had convinced myself those were summer run fish but now I am not so sure. I will post my reasoning for why I felt these were summers when I return this evening...but for now, it's time to concentrate on doin' some fishing. Thanks for the quick response sandy...I'll reply when I get back...

rib
Sanderson said:
It can be difficult to be sure if a fish is a summer or a winter and I am sure that I will sometimes call a summer a winter and v.v. I find that Nov is the hardest month to ID a fish. Sometimes you will encounter a late arriving summer that has only been in the river for a couple weeks or a "pinking" winter fish that has arrived early and confuse the two.
cohokid said:
useually summer, are alot more slender, and longer. Were as winter are a little fatter, and less slim, dont get me wrong there is some fatt summers out there
ribwart said:
Ok...why did I think those were summers???? Hmmmm, good question and a tough one to answer, but here goes. There are a couple of reasons why I thought they were summers, and they were based on where I thought s99 and sn were fishing and time of year. I had looked at those pictures taking in as much info as I could and based on snow levels and elevation, size of the river, water clarity etc. had decided they had been fishing a river that I fish from time to time for summer run fish, september through november, and sometimes into december. I have caught fish there that I believe were summer runs based on run timing, and as it looked like the same river and time of year, I came to the conclusion they were into the same run of fish. I agree it is difficult to tell the difference between a summer run and a winter run but I tried to take the ambiguity out of the equation by determining it through location and timing. Obviously opinions differ on this one....

I associate a summer run fish with the rosey, rainbow like colors you see quite often in pictures of fish from the thompson, or other summer run rivers, with the nice pink band down the side, and prominent spotting. I think this is the most common appearance they will take in these early winter months, but I certainly do recognize that their appearances will vary, and some fish will come in already showing their colors slightly, while others will remain chrome for some time. I also feel summer runs tend to get more of a greenish tinge above the lateral line while winters tend to get more of a darker deeper blue tinge above the lateral, but again of course this varies from fish to fish, system to system. I also have seen winter run fish start to look similar to this as they have been in the river for some time, and have encountered the fresh, but "pinking" fish you mentioned earlier sandy. I do however find most of the winter run fish I get into, have the steely looking chrome appearance, with a sharp lateral line and very little if any of the rosey hue I find in summers...but there are definitely exceptions. I had never considered the fins though, and as you pointed them out sandy I find that angle particularly interesting...I will definitely look more closely at some of the fish I get this season.

On a side note, I am a bit disturbed at the idea that someone would go and take multiple pictures of the same fish. I had considered that these two pictures that steelie99 posted might be the same fish, based on the split in the anal fin, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. It didn't even cross my mind that someone would take a picture of the same fish twice and try to pass them off as the different fish...although it could easily be done using camera angles and where the natural lighting is coming from. However...I don't see the purpose of it, would never do that myself, and consider it irresponsible for two reasons. One if it was caught twice, I don't know why some one would keep targeting the same fish as it is not in the fishes best interest to go through such torment, although I recognize it does happen from time to time, it can be avoided by moving on....second it dawned on me that if that is the same fish, what's to say it was only caught once and then handed to the other guy for a second photo? That would be just about as low as you can get, keeping a fish out of the water and handling it for that extra time just for a glory shot...I don't know what the case was here in these pics, it could be two, or one fish in any number of scenario's, but I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt and will stick by that, as I cannot really fathom why someone would conduct themselves in such a manner, and would like to think this was not the case here.

Back to the identification angle....These fish were caught in november, and I identifyed them as summer runs, mostly based on location and time of year, and in part by coloration, but as you can see they do look quite different...
The pictures don't quite do it justice, but both these fish had the coloration I mentioned with the rosey hue, and pink stripe down the side, and the greenish tinge is present, you can kinda see the pink stripe in the first one...The first one definitely has the off colored fins you pointed out many summer runs have sanderson, but on the second one, the fins seem really clear...it was also a brighter fish, so it supports the fins angle to determine how long a fish has been in the river, but might I have had two different types on my hands...?




Like I said earlier I based my assessment of these fish on location and time of year, but also on coloration, and know full well I could have been wrong about it, we are all wrong about something at many points in our lives and I do not claim to be an exception to that truth, but I would like to learn more about this particular situation to determine what was actually the case. I have considered several other rivers and creeks that these pics could be from, but they are mostly summer run flows, so if I am wrong about the locale, the alternative eludes me. So let's concentrate just on the identification angle without the additional info...

This next fish was caught in december...and it looks more to me like the typical appearance I associate with a summer run that I mentioned before...which is similar to the appearance of the fish in the second picture steelie99 posted at least color wise...



So I've learned some things, about identifying fish, and that perhaps I should be careful of giving the benefit of the doubt to people...As it would seem by other people's reactions, that perhaps it is a much, much more common practice than I thought, for people to take multiple pictures of fish. It would be good to point out at this time that settling in and targeting a fish multiple times, over and over again once you've caught it or passing a fish over to someone else so they can get their own photo op is irresponsible to say the least. We should all limit our handling of these fish to a minimum, keep them in the water as much as possible and move on if we feel we are going after fish we have already caught. I heard it put really well once, that "the ethics of angling are how you conduct yourself when nobody else is looking", and I feel that couldn't be more true. Like I said earlier I did not consider this possibility an option here and will continue to give the benefit of the doubt to s99 and sn in this instance. If I am wrong about that, only someone owning up to it will satisfy my curiousity. It takes a big man to admit he's wrong though, and I don't expect that I will witness that too much from people in my lifetime. Most importantly anyone getting the idea of passing fish back and forth for photo opportunities from this thread should consider how that affects the fish and how it reflects on you if you choose to do so...please treat them with respect.
I would like to pursue this identification angle further and will wait to see some replies, as I am sure I will have more questions as this moves along...

Rib
fishey said:
excellent post rib!

i wish i could provide some insight to this but i am still learning on how to identify fish. I have never even thought of trying to identify them as summer or winter untill this thread.

learning takes time, keep this thread going!

-fishey
Steelie Trav said:
Now to get this straight, identifying a doe to a buck for steelhead....the buck gets a more elongated snout while the does snout stays a little more abrupt? By this information would I be wrong in saying that sandy's post the first 2 pics are of does and the last four are bucks?

Also to follow up with summer / winter run fish....it basically comes down to the colouration of these fish at the certain time of year? For instance, if you catch a steelhead in decmeber that resembles sandersons second/third/fifth pic you could assume that it is a summer run?

Some really good info here, we maybe should have posted it in the freshwater forum under "Identifying Steelhead" or still can copy and past a new thread there.

PS. Sanderson, those jigs seem to do you justice! I think I'll be tying some up for boxing day!!!
ribwart said:
Trav, I think you also have to look at the head more overall, the gill plate and the maxilliary...they tend to be longer in the males versus the females...the "snouts" definitely play a part, but sometimes its hard to tell by that alone.

Keep in mind of course that I could be wrong steelie99's pics were of summer fish, and am definitely not certain now that other opinions have been voiced, so I could be wrong altogether in my identification techniques for males versus females...but I'm pretty sure I've got that much right... :lol: :wink:

It is tough to know for sure unless the fish is killed and opened up, but I think you can still determine a lot about the fish you have caught if you know what to look for...I've already learned something new with regards to examining the fins more closely, let's see what else we can learn about this subject...

Rib
sage2106lb said:
There is also a way to distinguish between a hatchery summer-run and hatchery winter-run steelhead.In rivers that produce both species the adipose fin and right maxllary on a summer-run steelhead will be clipped.The hatchery does this for identification.Look at Sandersons first picture.Hope it helps some people :) :)
Ironhead said:
This is not always the case with the river you are speaking of Sage, as we have caught quite a few with only adipose clips and they were definately summers, caught in August. These supposedly"not able to spawn successfully" fish are also able to spawn, as lately unmarked summers are being caught,which is a good thing in light of the fact that the brood program is sucking wind and very few anglers are chipping in with fish. Those 10 summer runs that everyone is taking turns on should probably be collected at this point as their mouths must resemble pin cushions by now. Perhaps there should be a drop off pen like the one that used to be at the hatchery channel, put up where these fish are being caught, or it could be lights out for this small hatchery run. Donor fish were provided by aother system up until now, that situation is now dead, so brood fish are golden in these times. If you think you can help this situation, contact me by PM and I can get you info about how to get going.
Sanderson said:
First off I can guarentee you that the river that you think it is is wrong. Its also not a river that most people associate with steelhead. So I can see why you would post it as a summer but I have several years of first hand knowledge with those same fish and know the exact spot where it came from which is kind of like me holding pocket aces and peeking at the flop.

I dont feel that that rosy cheeks and prominant spotting are sure bets to judge a coastal summer over a coastal winter. It has been my experience that the earliest arriving winter fish, those of late Nov and early Dec are the most similar in appearance to summer fish which have been in the river for several months making it very hard at times to distinguish one from the other. At such times I look to the overall body condition, the fins and pearly rays that come from the tail such as on this fresh winter steelhead




As opposed to the flat coloured and non-shiny tail of this early August summer steelhead which had been in the river for several weeks.




And in the middle we have a winter steelhead that had been in the river for some time as evidenced by the slight pearly rays on the tail and the soft texture of the meat - obviously only applicable if you kill and eat the fish.




As to the pics you posted, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the second fish were a winter run fish. My second winter steel of the year came from the same river last year on Dec 1. Also, given the amount of wild summer run fish in that river I would be much more inclined to say that it is an early winter fish.

As for the spotting, if you look at the pic of the fresh winter steel that I put in the last post you can clearly see that it is heavily spotted and yet it is a very fresh fish as on this fish as well



And yes, the pics by s99 and sn are the same fish, no doubt about it. We can only hope that the fish was caught on two seperate occasions on the same day.
Sanderson said:
Now to get this straight, identifying a doe to a buck for steelhead....the buck gets a more elongated snout while the does snout stays a little more abrupt? By this information would I be wrong in saying that sandy's post the first 2 pics are of does and the last four are bucks?

You would be correct in saying that. Its not really that hard when you know what to look for and you obviously know what to look for now.


And for cohokid

Which ones are winters and which ones are summers









cohokid said:
hmm those are tuff, ill probly get em all wrong. but heres a shot.

first one...winter
second.....summer
third.......summer
fourth...winter.....thats a tuff one half the fish is in the water..wierd glare
fith....... winter.

probly worng. those are all tuff ones.
shane said:
The ones where he's wearing a jacket are winter :roll: LOL I don't have a clue I haven't even touched a steelhead, this will be my first season actually trying for them.
cohokid said:
shane said:
The ones where he's wearing a jacket are winter :roll: LOL I don't have a clue I haven't even touched a steelhead, this will be my first season actually trying for them.
not nessisarly, you can hit a summer one the mend in november. Its cold then too.
Sanderson said:
Steelhead spawn in the late winter/spring, there are no menders in November.
ribwart said:
sanderson said:
First off I can guarentee you that the river that you think it is is wrong.
If that's the case BirdnestBob, then my rather confident assurances that those fish were summer runs, in response to your question earlier in the thread, are much less certain than when I believed I knew where those fish were caught. I will often try to discern the nature of the fish with location and run timing as the first clues, then visual inspection of the fish. Consequently I cannot be certain they were summers and must defer to sandy on this one as it seems he has the information necessary to make the distinction. I will stand by what I said to look for when trying to determine whether a fish is male or female though...

sanderson said:
And yes, the pics by s99 and sn are the same fish, no doubt about it. We can only hope that the fish was caught on two seperate occasions on the same day.
I think if it was the same fish, it's not likely they passed the fish back and forth, they probably caught it twice in the same hole, and likely they weren't just sitting there going after the same fish over and over again, I think I was a bit quick in how I expressed myself in my earlier post, it didn't quite come out the way I wanted it to with regards to catching a fish twice. I think most steelheaders would try and find another fish in a spot where they had just hooked one, as often there can be more in the same stretch, or near it, consequently fish are often hooked multiple times...I don't think it happens that often that someone targets the same fish over and over again, but I'm sure that fish are hooked and landed multiple times in a day and not by design. I was wrong to express it the way I did, and should have chosen my wording more carefully.
Still giving them the benefit of the doubt though...regardless of what I think now.


As for identifying the difference between a male and a female, the last pic in sanderson's first post on this page might be a good example to look at...


Here the head seems shorter, stubbier...the upper lip isn't as long or pronounced. Also the maxillary seems shorter, doesn't really go past the eye, (although that maxillary might be clipped, it's hard to tell from the picture...)

The gill plate stops short of the pectoral fin...I would think that fish is a doe on initial inspection....I will try and find a pic here with a good example of what a male's characteristics might look like for comparison...

Here is another example...it's not a very clear pic, but the general idea is there...here I see the maxillary ending past the eye, and the head and "snout" seem longer, less compact...although the gill plate doesn't seem to be a good clue to look at here, the other factors are more obvious...and I would think this fish was a buck.




There's some really good info in this thread...maybe we should post some of this stuff under an "identifying steelhead" thread like steelietrav suggested...maybe one of the mods could cut and paste this tangent we've gone off on and put it under a new title? Just a thought.

rib
 
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