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Redband trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdnerii


Redband trout are subspecies of rainbow trout that have been isolated from coastal rainbow trout over the centuries.  The Columbia River redband trout is found in Montana, Washington and Idaho, while the Great Basin redband is found in southeastern Oregon and parts of California and Nevada.   Redband trout and steelhead are the same species.  When they swim to the ocean, they are called steelhead; when they live in streams their whole lives, they are redband trout.

Redbands are similar in appearance to rainbow trout but have larger, more rounded spots and parr marks that they retain into adulthood.  They get their subspecies common name from the brilliant red/crimson stripe along their sides. 

Redbands' can adapt to environmental conditions that other fish cannot.  They tolerate water temperatures above 80 degrees (F) and still grow larger than 10 inches. 

The redband trout is Idaho's most widely distributed native trout.  They are found in some of the warmest streams in the Owyhee desert to the smallest mountain streams in remote alpine settings of central and northern Idaho.  One inventory of the Owyhee and Bruneau river drainages identified redband trout in 23 of 27 perennial streams and 7 of 15 intermittent streams.