Species Accounts

Status of 32 kinds of salmon, steelhead, and trout

The science-based report is clear - if we don't act, we risk losing our native salmon, steelhead and trout species. 45% of species are likely to be extinct in the next 50 years if present trends continue. This includes 11 of 21 anadromous species (52%) and 3 of 10 of its inland species (30%). Under present conditions, 23 of the remaining 31 species (74%) are likely to be extinct in the next 100 years. The SOS II report recognizes 32 distinct salmonids in California: one for each kind of native salmon, steelhead, and trout. Of these salmonids, 22 are endemic to California and only five are shared with neighboring states. Each account has been distilled from comprehensive, peer-reviewed life history accounts and scoring rubrics prepared by Dr. Peter B. Moyle, Dr. Robert Lusardi, and Patrick Samuel, and will be published as Salmon, Steelhead, and Trout in California: Status of Emblematic Fishes, Second Edition. Readers interested in learning more about the diverse salmonid species in California, report methods, science underlying the scoring in the accounts, and obtaining references for further reading should review the full report. For details of each species, click on the links below. A glossary of terms used in the report can be found here.

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Species Accounts Distribution

Historically, Central Valley steelhead inhabited the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and most of their tributaries as part of a single population with resident Rainbows. There were possibly 81 discrete populations from the San Joaquin Valley north to the Pit River drainage in the past. Due to the construction of dams and water diversions, nearly 95% of previously accessible habitat to CV steelhead has been blocked or lost. Above dam Rainbow trout populations appear to retain much of this native genetic population structure. A long history of translocations of hatchery Rainbow trout and steelhead, and pervasive habitat alteration, have created a single heavily hatchery-influenced population.

How they Species Accounts Scored:

From CalTrout's SOS II Report


KMP summer steelhead are nearly identical to the more common KMP winter steelhead in their appearance. They can be differentiated by their timing of freshwater migration from April through June, timing of sexual maturation in freshwater, location of spawning in higher- gradient habitats than other steelhead, and genetic variation. KMP summer steelhead may live up to seven years, and may return to spawn to their natal streams several times throughout their lives, especially in the Scott River.


Little is known about the historical abundance of summer steelhead in the KMP. in recent decades, estimates of returning adults annually ranged from 1,400 to 4,000 fish. They have since dwindled to less than approximately 2,000 adults for the past decade. However, increases have been documented in some tributaries, such as the South Fork Trinity River, in recent years.

Habitat & Behavior

The open Klamath Estuary provides steelhead access to diverse habitats — from spring-fed systems such as the Shasta River, to snowmelt- driven Trinity River tributaries — at different times of year. Summer steelhead enter Klamath and Trinity river tributaries by June and ascend into summer holding areas with deep, bedrock pools with some overhead cover and cool seeps, often sharing these pools during the summer with spring-run Chinook salmon. They spawn from January to March, about a month earlier than winter steelhead. Generally, summer steelhead spawn in small or intermittent headwater tributaries, and juveniles migrate into perennial streams soon after hatching. Juvenile summer steelhead typically spend two years in fresh water before migrating to the ocean, and returning to spawn at three or four years of age.


Klamath Mountains Province summer and winter steelhead are distinct from one another in their life histories, behaviors, and genetics, but are currently lumped together for management. The cues for early migration in summer steelhead has a genetic basis that can be passed on to offspring. More genetic research is needed on the existence of a possible fall-run steelhead in the Klamath and Trinity rivers, which enter fresh water a month earlier than winter steelhead and appear to have an intermediate life history between summer and winter fish.

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