Steelhead Flavor Profile
Steelhead Salmon are a fabulous fish! They have orange flesh like Salmon, but the flavor is milder like a cross between salmon & trout. The flesh has medium flakes and a tender texture. To me, wild Steelhead have a bit more “intense” salmon taste than farmed Steelhead.
Typical Cooking Methods
Steelhead Trout, Steelhead Salmon, Sea-run Rainbow Trout.
Typical Wholesale Products
Whole, Dressed, H&G, Filets
Description Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Steelhead are a sea-going Rainbow Trout and have been recently reclassified from Steelhead Trout to Steelhead Salmon. All Rainbow Trout are part of the Salmon family. They have a shorter head than salmon, and have small spots on the head, back and tail. Average weight is 8-11 Lbs, up to 40 Lbs. Follow the link for a video on how to identify species of salmon.
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Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Fresh wild Steelhead is seldom available due to concerns with its sustainability. Fresh farmed Steelhead is available all year long.
Butchering Yield Percentage
|Item||To Skin/On Fillets||To Skin/Off Fillets||Notes|
|Whole Head/On gutted||66% – 70%||60%|
|Skin/On Fillets||—||85%||If you have additional yield info on this fish please leave a comment below.|
|Yield % varies according to a number of factors including: size of fish, season, sex, and the skill of your fishmonger.|
Range & Habitat
Steelhead are sea-going Rainbow Trout. They inhabit various rivers along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California, and from Japan to the Kamchatkan Peninsula. “Summer-run Steelhead” migrate between May and October. “Winter-run Steelhead” migrate between November and April.
based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.
The sustainability of wild steelhead is a concern and Washington State has taken a very proactive stance on managing the fisheries so as to preserve this fish for future generations. The Washington Department of Fish & Wild Life tracks and manages 133 separate stocks on Washington Steelhead from specific rivers and further classifies each one with the ESA (Federal) status. As of December 2012 there are 83 stocks listed as “threatened” and 50 listed as “not warranted”. This means that fish from the “not warranted” areas are considered sustainable and fishing is allowed within state regulated guidelines, while fish from the “threatened” areas are considered unsustainable and are therefore illegal to catch.
NOAA lists 15 general regions of steelhead from the West Coast: (1) Endangered, (10) Threatened, (1) Species of Concern, (3) Not Warranted or healthy.
Threatened: Puget Sound (T), Upper Columbia Rver (T), Middle Columbia River (T), Lower Columbia River (T), Upper Willamette River (T), Snake River (T), Northern CA (T), Central Coast CA (T), Central Valley CA (T), South-Central CA Coast (T)
Endangered: Southern CA Coast (E)
Healthy: Southwest WA (NW), Olympic Peninsula (NW), Klamath Mountains Province (NW)
– info updated July 2013
The Federal Endangered and Threatened Species List (2005) details eight (8) specific West Coast regions where Steelhead are considered either “endangered” (one listing) or “threatened”. The info is near the bottom of the page. There are other populations of Steelhead which can be fished and are not on the threatened or endangered list. Here is the original filing with the Federal Registry which details stocks (sustainable and unsustainable) in 1996. Wikipedia provides good info about the Endangered Species Act and its definitions.
|Name||Alternate Names||Catch Method||Catch
|Steelhead Trout, Steelhead Salmon||Farmed – Land-locked Lake, Open-net Pen Flow-through Systems||US||Low|
|Farmed – Open-net Pen||US, Canada||n/a|
|Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.|
= Best Choice/Recommended = Good Alternative = Avoid/Not Recommended
Ocean Wise specifically names Steelhead from Lois Lake in British Columbia as “Recommended/Best Choice”. By their standards all other farmed Steelhead are to be evaluated based upon impact upon the environment. Seafood Watch and Sea Choice have not done an assessment of wild Steelhead and therefore have not rating. Blue Ocean rates wild Steelhead “yellow”.