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Getting a Handle on the Steelhead Trout

April 09, 1987|JUDY PASTERNAK

Steelhead trout have returned to Malibu Creek, and biologists want to find out why.

Until recently, the prized silvery fish that commute between freshwater and the ocean--returning to their native creeks to spawn--were synonymous with the Pacific Northwest. The steelhead were thought to have died out long ago in more urban southern settings.

Last year, however, state biologists confirmed that Malibu Creek is home to the nation's southernmost steelhead run. Curiosity is strong among wildlife experts, who wonder how the steelhead staged its comeback.

The southern 2.5 miles of the creek have been closed to fishing until May 22. Volunteers, such as Brooks Harper of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ken Sasaki of the state Department of Fish and Game, above left, are briefly trapping steelhead in an effort to count the population. They hope their information will help the state decide how best to protect and increase the number of steelhead there.

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