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Thread: Redd Identification

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Oregon City

    Default Redd Identification

    Fish, especially Coho and steelhead, tend to spawn in side channels and slow shallow tailouts. They will also spawn in shallow water near to the bank with just a little current. These spots may not be near the tailout. Chinooks will sometimes spawn in heavier water, but they also spawn in tailouts. Different fish prefer different kinds of stuff to spawn on. Steelhead like smaller stuff while some Chinooks will spawn over rocks the size of a grapefruit. Steelhead spawn in the late winter through the early summer. Spawning time for salmon is the late summer and early fall, in the case of Spring Chinooks, through early wintertime for Coho and some Fall Chinook. This means that there is the chance of spawning fish being in the river nearly near round in some river systems.

    Once a fish dumps her eggs in the redd it takes some time for the eggs to develop into fry and emerge up through the gravel. The fish may not be on the redds, but the eggs can still be developing. Fish use their tails to make strong bursts of current that move the rocks downstream. The fish typically move upstream afterwards and make another nest directly upstream which covers the eggs they just dumped with a light layer of rocks or gravel. They will usually make a couple of redds in a row. Redds can be identified as depressions in the river bottom with piles of gravel or rocks behind them. The redds will be relatively “clean.” In a river with some moss or sediment on the bottom they will be easy to spot as they will have a distinct color. Many times redds are not so easy to see. Redd surveys are completed on many rivers, and you will see plastic tags alongside the rivers to mark the spots where fish are spawning. Salmon hens will sit on the redd until they die, and steelhead hens will often sit on the redd for a long time after spawning.

    If you see fish on the redd avoid disturbing them by wading in their zone. If you see freshly made redds do not wade over the top of them. Find a different place to cross or get in the water. Fish spawn in slow shallow currents which are the easiest place to ford a river, so anglers sometimes wade through redds, often without realizing it. When this happens, eggs can get burst or damaged or gravel can get kicked on top of the eggs, and the fry have a tough time swimming up through the disturbed redd. Watch your step, and help fish complete the spawning task by not casting at them or otherwise harassing them.

    I am not much of a cameraman and don’t have any good photos of redds or spawning fish, but if you do, and would like to add them here, please do so.
    Last edited by supertrout; 08-07-2011 at 12:10 AM.
    Only Green!
    "Enjoyment should come from the pursuit of your quarry, not the aqquisition of dead fish." -Jed Davis

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Pacific Northwest


    Great post! I have photos, adding now.

    Spawning Chinook Salmon

    Sockeye Salmon

    Coho Salmon Spawning

    Female Coho Salmon on redd

    I am missing some I know I have. I will need to get into my external hard drives to find them asap. If I can find them I realy should add them to the fish I.D. pages. I should have dozens of examples of this but oddly I spent so much time mentaly concentrating on broadside fish I.D. shots that I passed on hundreds of redd shot opps. I am sure we will get what we need in time now : )

    thanks for posting this thread!
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Lake Oswego Or.


    Good stuff! I just came across it maybe this could go on the cold water page for a bit to get this important reminder/info in front of as many people as possible?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    North Portland


    Great post, really important info for all of us as we chase fish.


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