Abundance and Age Structure of Skagit River Steelhead Smolts: 2012 Annual Report
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Abundance and Age Structure of Skagit River Steelhead Smolts: 2012 Annual Report

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Fish/Shellfish Research

Date Published: June 2013

Number of Pages: 43

Publication Number: FPT 13-05

Author(s): Clayton W. Kinsel, Shannon E. Vincent, Mara S. Zimmerman and Joseph H. Anderson


During the first year of the study we were able to successfully capture, tag and release sufficient numbers of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) smolt to estimate abundance from each of three tributary trapping locations (Table 1). An interesting finding was that trapping locations further upstream or at higher elevation (Bacon and Illabot creeks) had earlier median catch dates than the lower tributary (Finney Creek). Matching this trend was the mainstem trap where steelhead catch had the latest median catch date (Table 1). Also the higher elevation and colder water tributaries of Illabot and Bacon creeks had more age-4- and age-3 smolts than Finney Creek and the mainstem trap. Steelhead smolt population age structure was different in each sampled tributary (Table 6). A total of 1,096 steelhead smolts were PIT-tagged in the three upstream tributaries.

Table 1.Steelhead smolt abundance from Skagit River tributaries and mainstem trap.

(%CV) Avg.
Fork Length
(mm)(+/-1 S.D.)
Catch Date
Bacon Creek 8,253 (75.6%) 168.0 (22.64) April 21, 2012
Illabot Creek 2,705 (9.3%) 173.9 (17.45) April 25, 2012
Finney Creek 2,464 (32.9%) 155.7 (24.42) May 13, 2012
Mainstem Traps N/A 174.0(21.3) May 15, 2012

We captured 431 steelhead at the mainstem trap, but only one was a recapture of a smolt tagged in the three upstream tributaries. Due to an insufficient number of recaptures, we were unable to estimate total Skagit basin steelhead smolt abundance.