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Chapter 5 -- Anadromous Salmonids and Their Habitats (continued)

Life History Patterns of Anadromous Salmonids (continued)

Coastal Cutthroat Trout

The life history patterns of coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) are not known in detail. Like steelhead, they may be anadromous, that is, they may spend part of their life in freshwater and part in the ocean. Often they follow a resident life history pattern which means they live and reproduce entirely in freshwater. Resident populations of coastal cutthroat trout (and rainbow trout) are found throughout the headwaters of the Smith River.

In their anadromous life history patterns, adult coastal cutthroat trout probably begin migrating upstream primarily in late fall and early winter (Flosi and Reynolds 1994). Spawning occurs mostly in the spring (McCain et al. 1995). After emerging from the redd, they remain in freshwater for at least two years.

In the Smith River tributaries, there are migration barriers that define the upstream limit of the anadromous populations of both coastal cutthroat and rainbow trout. Downstream from these barriers, these species use both anadromous and resident life history patterns. Cutthroat are also capable of following an intermediate life history: they migrate only as far as the estuary rather than the ocean. This suggests that there is not a clear division between resident and anadromous life histories in coastal cutthroat trout.

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