Warner Lakes Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii

Native Trout Fly Fishing

A Warner Lakes redband from a small high altitude stream in northern California.

Introduction

The Warner Lakes redband trout are endemic to the Warner basin of south-central Oregon and northeastern California. These redbands are believed to be most closely related to those of Goose Lake (Behnke 1992).

Life History Information

The Warner basin is composed of a series of lakes, marshes and sloughs that are vestiges of its large Pleistocene lake. Today some of these bodies of water provide suitable habitat for trout under the right conditions, and as such an adfluvial life history type has been maintained by these redbands. Today populations of redbands are found in three creek systems flowing off of the Warner Mountains, as well as in Crump, Pelican and Hart Lakes and Greaser Reservoir (ODFW 2005). The adfluvial life history type is dependent on the basin receiving enough precipitation, and may not be possible during drought years when the lakes and lower reaches of the streams dry up. However the trout quickly re-colonize this habitat when it becomes available again during wet years. During 1992 the many of the large lakes in the basin dried up, but redbands were found in them during years with sufficient water both before and after the drought year (USFWS 1998). Even when this habitat is available, it appears that abundance in the lakes is low and the majority of the fish express a stream resident life history (ODFW 2005).

Status

Like the other redbands of the northern Great Basin, the Warner Lakes redband were petitioned to be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but an ESA listed was not found to be warranted. However the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife currently considers these fish to be at risk of extinction. The two major causes of the decline of these trout have been from habitat degradation and the introduction of non-native fish. Hatchery trout were stocked in the basin's streams until 1989, and it appears that at least some hybridization has occurred (Behnke 1992). Several species of warm water fish including crappie, bass and catfish have been stocked in the basin's lakes and are believed to compete with and prey on adfluvial redbands. Habitat degradation has had a major impact on these fish and some of the impacts stem from logging, agriculture, poor grazing practices and mining (USFWS 1998). Stream alterations for agricultural purposes have been a major source of habitat degradation, as the lower reaches of the streams have been channelized and water diversions for irrigation have been installed. These diversions are believed to suppress the abundance of redbands with the adfluvial life history and Honey Creek alone there are eight diversions (ODFW 2005).

Description

The coloration of these fish is olive or bronze on the back and transitions to a yellowish color across the body. As their namesake suggests, these redbands have a brick red stripe along their lateral line, and the same coloration on their gill plates. Purplish colored elliptical shaped parr marks are often retained into maturity in stream resident fish, but fade away in adfluvial individuals. These lake dwelling trout also generally will have a much more silvery coloration than their stream resident brethren. The spotting pattern consists of small round or irregular shaped spots that are profusely distributed both above and below the lateral line, and on the caudal and dorsal fins. The caudal fin is forked, dorsal fin may be tipped with either white or orange, while anal and pelvic fins are both tipped with white.

Stream Resident Form

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Native Range

Native Trout Fly Fishing

A map of the native range of the Warner Lakes redband trout. Data Sources: Behnke (2002) and ODFW (2005).