Upper Columbia River Summer Steelhead

Washington state designated steelhead as its official state fish in 1969. Steelhead are the ocean-going (anadromous) version of rainbow trout. Like most salmon, steelhead return to the Columbia River to spawn. Unlike salmon, they do not spawn upon their arrival to the spawning grounds and then die, but rather overwinter and spawn the following spring. Steelhead can recover and return to spawn multiple times. Overfishing, water diversions, and other habitat alterations have taken a toll on runs of summer steelhead. These conditions have resulted in critically low numbers of Upper Columbia River summer steelhead, which prompted their listing under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, most steelhead spawning in the wild are fish that were raised in a hatchery.

Summer Steelhead

Summer Steelhead are considered “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act and are at a high risk of extinction based on low numbers. Grant PUD is supporting programs in collaboration with Douglas PUD, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Colville Confederated Tribes which strive to increase abundance, productivity and diversity of Okanogan River steelhead. A portion of this program supports the continued development of a self-sustaining and diverse population of summer steelhead in tributaries of the Okanogan River, including Omak Creek.

A portion (approximately 20,000) of Grant PUD’s steelhead reared at Wells Hatchery are spawned from adult fish captured in Omak Creek. The progeny of these adults are early reared at Wells Hatchery, then transferred to Omak Creek for acclimation and release. These activities, conducted in collaboration with the Colville Confederated Tribes, support development of a locally adapted steelhead program in the Okanogan Basin.


Upper Columbia River Summer Steelhead

Number of fish released

100,000 smolts

Fish release location

Okanagan River basin