Explore Nature: Steelhead Ecology Hike, April 8th, 2017

 

Steelhead adult 1
Steelhead are jumbo-sized rainbow trout that inhabit every corner of the Tillamook Bay Watershed. Angling is the most common way for people to see them, but during the spawning season of April and May they can also be viewed by hikers and “fish-watchers.” Photo courtesy of Conrad Gowell.

Have you ever wondered what makes a rainbow trout become a “steelhead?” Have you ever caught a glimpse of steelhead swimming and spawning in the wild? These incredible ocean-going trout are among the most revered gamefish in the world, and they attract thousands of anglers to Tillamook County’s rivers every year. Steelhead are also one of the most beautiful and interesting inhabitants of our rainforest environment. This coming weekend offers a rare chance to learn about these fascinating fish on a special “steelhead ecology” hike along Tillamook’s spectacular Kilchis River. Join naturalists from the Tillamook Bay Watershed Council (TBWC) and Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP) as they lead hikers along sections of the Kilchis, looking for spawning pairs of steelhead, and discussing aspects of steelhead biology and behavior. Registration is FREE and required for this event.

When, Where & What to Bring: This coming Saturday, April 8th from 10:00AM to 1:00PM at the Mapes Creek Landing (aka the “Logger Bridge”) on the Kilchis River. Bring boots, raingear and a snack, as well as a pair of polarized sunglasses if you have them.

Difficulty: Moderate; approximately 2 miles round-trip. Trail is typically muddy and will include navigating uneven terrain and hopping across two small streams.

Cost: The event is FREE, although there will be a $4 parking fee per vehicle, payable by cash or check to the Tillamook County Parks Department.

Registration: Required and available at EventBrite.com by following the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/steelhead-ecology-hike-tickets-33404008288

Explore Nature is a series of hikes, walks, paddles and outdoor adventures hosted throughout Tillamook County by a coalition of conservation organizations. These meaningful, nature-based experiences highlight the unique beauty of Tillamook County and the work being done to preserve and conserve the area’s natural resources and natural resource-based economy. Explore Nature is partially funded by the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County and Visit Tillamook Coast.

The TBWC and TEP are local, not-for-profit organizations working to build voluntary partnerships with communities and landowners to protect, maintain and improve the health of our waters, fish and wildlife. Learn more about our on-the-ground restoration projects, educational outreach programs, and other community-engagement activities on our “Projects” page, and at www.tbnep.org.

Steelhead juvenile 1
Young steelhead spend from one to five years rearing in their home rivers before making the trek to the ocean. That means they can be easily mistaken for resident rainbow trout during the summer fishing season. For that reason, many Tillamook-area anglers promote catch-and-release for small rainbow trout, in the hope that they will someday return as adult steelhead. Photo courtesy of Conrad Gowell.

 

Trask Buck 01-31-15
This 37-inch male, or “buck” steelhead was caught and released on the Trask River in 2015. TBWC photo.

 

 

 

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