110. Steelhead Trout

Big Sur River.
Life cycle of Salmonids.
Steelhead fry.
Juvenile Steelhead.
Steelhead nest, or "redd."
Steelhead redd in Big Sur River.

In the Big Sur River drainage, Steelhead Trout can be found year-round. They are coastal rainbow trout that have a special life cycle. Just like salmon, they are anadromous. This means that they are able to live in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They are born in shallow gravel nests called redds that are found in calm areas of a stream or river. They will live in freshwater for two to three years, gradually moving downstream. When they are ready, they will move out into the ocean for the next two to three years to grow on the rich marine food sources until they reach maturity. They will then return to the stream in which they were born in order to lay and fertilize eggs. This is called spawning, which occurs in late winter through early spring each year. However, unlike other salmonid fishes, the steelhead trout do not die after they have spawned. They will return to the ocean and may repeat this cycle several times during their lives. The Steelhead population in Big Sur is threatened and fishing is not allowed. For more information and their current status in California, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.