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Redband Trout in the Deschutes Basin

Redband trout are a unique type of rainbow trout found in desert streams of the Pacific Northwest. They are adapted for life in the desert and have a greater tolerance for higher water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen levels than do most rainbow trout.

The redband trout in the Deschutes Basin are part of the Columbia River redband trout subspecies, a type of trout found in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Columbia River redband trout are not currently listed as an endangered or threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but their range and abundance have declined in the Deschutes Basin as in all the states within their historic range. Streamflow barriers and irrigation withdrawals have eliminated them from some streams and isolated populations in others.

The fish spawn in rivers and streams during the spring (March, April, May) and emerge from gravel in June and July. The fish have a speckled olive to brownish coloring with dark red stripes down their sides. They are prized by sport fishers because they grow larger than most wild rainbow trout, sometimes exceeding 10 inches in length.


USDA Forest Service Region 6 Fishing Resources -- short description and drawing of a redband trout.

Thurow, Russell F.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Lee, Danny C.; Howell, Philip J.; Perkinson, Raymon D. 2007. Distribution and status of redband trout in the interior Columbia river basin and portions of the Klamath river and great basins. Redband Trout: Resilience and Challenge in a Changing Landscape. Oregon Chapter, American Fisheries Society. 19 p.

Northwest Power and Conservation Council Deschutes Subbasin Plan, Appendix I - Fish Focal Species - Overview of history and issues surrounding key fish species in the basin including redband trout and steelhead.

Authored by Maria Wright, Faculty Research Assistant, Institute for Natural Resources and Caitlin Bell, Staff, Oregon Explorer