State Fish Of Washington

State Fish Of Washington

Steelhead Trout Is The Official State Fish Of Washington. Washington Adopted The Steelhead Trout as the official state fish in 1969. Fishing is a major industry in Washington state and steelhead trout is one of the most popular fish for recreational fishing. The Washington State Fish steelhead trout is a migratory species of the coastal rainbow trout or the Columbia River redband trout. This species lives in the ocean for a few years then heads back to freshwaters to reproduce. The steelhead trout has a spotted backside (usually gray spots) from head to tail while the scales are shiny.

However, their bellies have an intense white hue that contrasts sharply with the back. A subtle strip of opalescent pink separates the dark and light colors. Due to their large numbers, the conservation status of State Fish Of Washington species is that of the least concern. Steelhead and rainbow lack the red slash on the underjaw characteristic of cutthroat trout but do have white leading edges on the anal, pectoral, and pelvic fins. Spawning steelhead and rainbow develop a distinct pink to red strip-like coloration that blends along the side, both above and below the lateral line. On steelhead, the State Fish Of Washington rainbow trout coloration gradually fades the following spawning to the more characteristic silvery color that the fish display during their ocean journey. 


Characteristics of the Steelhead Trout


Other Common Names

Coastal Rainbow Trout, Steelies


Typical Adult

Length: Up to 34 inches

Weight: Up to 8 pounds (may reach 24 pounds)

Life span: Up to 11 years



Washington State Fish Steelhead trout are anadromous fish, which means they inhabit the Pacific Ocean and Great Lakes area except during spawning season when they move to rivers and streams. The preferred water temperature is 55-60 °F.


Feeding Behavior

Steelhead trout feed on immature and adult insects, plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs, and small fish.


Reproductive Behavior (Spawning)

When: Late March through early June

Preferred Water Temperature: 50-60 °F

Where: Steelhead trout spawn in large, swift, boulder-strewn streams at the gravelly tail of pool or riffle at the head of a pool.

How: The female digs several nest-like depressions called “redds” and deposits eggs in each one. The adults State Fish Of Washington do not guard the eggs.

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