The Columbia River Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is one of the most sought-after game fish in North America. Averaging 40-60 cm (16-24 inches), the rainbow is native to the Columbia River and prized by fly fishers for their hard fighting, line-screaming, high-jumping battles.
The Columbia River Redband rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) is a highly celebrated rainbow trout sub-species that’s believed to be a descendant of the anadromous steelhead trout. Larger than a normal rainbow, Redbands average 24-28 inches in size and are recognized by their deep crimson stripe from gill plate to tail. While the species is endangered in other regions, this section of the Columbia River holds the largest populations of redband rainbow trout in the world.
The headwaters of the Columbia provide the pristine, well-oxygenated, cool water rainbow trout need to thrive. It is estimated there are 1,000 wild rainbow per km on this last free-flowing section of river between the Arrow Lakes and US border. Even with all these fish, on most days you won’t see another angler.