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Steelhead Festival Offers Fun, Fishing and Education

People flocked to Lake Sonoma on Saturday to learn about the trout hatchery.

Did you know that a Steelhead trout can produce up to 5,000 eggs! They're called Steelhead because of their silvery color, but the males turn red when they spawn their young. Steelhead are in the same family as Rainbow Trout and they can be found in fresh water and the Pacific Ocean, all the way from Alaska to Southern California.

These are among the fun facts that visitors to the Steelhead Trout Festival at Lake Sonoma on Saturday learned. People were able to see the fish building a gravel nest and children could fish for young trout. Various agencies such as Fish and Game and the Army Corps. of Engineers had booths and displays.

Steelhead spawn, hatch and mature to fry at the hatchery there. They are then sent back into the Russian River. Over the years, some have been sent as far as New Zealand, according to Army Corps of Engineers volunteer Chester Breazeale. The fish eggs have a much better rate of survival if they are spawned at the hatchery than in the wild.

Hatchlings are called alevins, then after about seven weeks they are called fry.

Steelhead spend one to five years maturing in their stream and then they head out to sea, returning to spawn in the same stream up to four years later.

Most Steelhead live up to 9 years old; the oldest known Steelhead was found to be 11.

To learn more about Steelhead and other fish in Sonoma County, go to this website for Sonoma County Water Agency.

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