Columbia River Fisheries Program Office
Pacific Region

Native Trout Program - Redband Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Redband TroutRedband trout are described as inland populations of Oncorhynchus mykiss, with few morphological and meristic characters distinguishing them from coastal rainbow trout (Behnke 1992). Redband trout range east of the Cascade Mountain range from northern California and Nevada to northern British Columbia and west central Alberta. In central and eastern Oregon, redband trout are native to several isolated desert basins including the Malheur Lakes basin.

The terminus of the Malheur Lakes basin is comprised of Malheur and Harney lakes in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (Malheur NWR). The Donner und Blitzen River flows to Malheur Lake from the Steen Mountains to the south and contains the single truly migratory population of redband trout in the basin. The migratory life history of this population is impeded in the lower reaches of the Donner und Blitzen River by irrigation weirs, dams and poor water quality. The Malheur NWR has placed ladders on dams to facilitate improved passage and recently conducted a project on a 6 km reach of the Donner und Blitzen River to improve habitat conditions for redband trout.

Electrofishing The Native Trout Program has collaborated with the Malheur NWR to assess the success of the recent habitat restoration project. The project involved the placement of instream structures to create more pool and riffle habitat as well as root wads to stabilize banks and improve cover. Pre- and post-assessment of the habitat restoration project provides a basis for comparison. Preliminary information and observations indicate that the instream structures may be beneficial not only for redband trout, but for other native species such as the bridgelip sucker, largescale sucker, mountain whitefish, longnose dace, redside shiner and tui chub.

Last updated: December 7, 2012
Columbia River Fisheries Program Office
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