Columbia River Redband Trout

Type:
Fresh Water
Columbia River Redband Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) are a native trout of western North America. There is considerable variation in the life history in this group of trout. Resident stream populations are found throughout the Columbia River basin. A lake variation known as Kamloops are found in some larger lakes in the Columbia and Frasier River (British Columbia) basins. A third variation is the steelhead that migrated from the ocean as far as the upper Snake River, Idaho (almost 1000 miles) (Behnke 1992).
 
Fishing Waters
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Starting at Little Lava Lake in central Oregon, this 252 mile, southward flowing River, takes a turn at the Wikiup Reservoir, defies gravity and flows north until it empties into the ... moreColumbia River. Archaeologists will tell that for eons, the Deschutes was an important route for Native Americans as they traveled to and from the Columbia. Later, in the 19th century, Historians will tell you that the river was an important marker for pioneers, eventually becoming part of the famous Oregon Trail.

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Today the river is considered an important part of our national heritage due to its extraordinary beauty and bountiful fisheries. Over 145 miles of the river have been designated as a National Recreational River while another 30 miles are crowned with National Wild and Scenic River distinction. Typically thought of in three sections – upper, middle and lower - the river passes through high arid country, flower filled meadows, and steep canyons.

As an official “blue ribbon” river, the Deschutes is perhaps most famous for its Columbia River redband trout, known locally as redsides. These trout have an unusual, bright red stripe that covers the bottom half of their bodies; the spots on the upper body are darker than other wild rainbow. Depending on where you are on the river, there can be as many as 1,700 redbands per mile, ranging from 8 – 16 inches. 

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Warm Springs to Macks Canyon is the preferred stretch for catching redbands. There is good redband fishing along Warm Springs Tribal Land but special permits are required. The section from Pelton Dam to the River’s mouth has high concentrations of wild trout, including summer steelhead. The entire river is managed as a wild trout fishery.

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