What Happens When Our Most Spectacular Trout Runs Into Man-Made Kryptonite?

Unless you’re an angler, you’ve probably never heard the term “steelhead”. Most Americans don’t know that a steelhead is an anadromous rainbow trout that’s born in freshwater, migrates downstream to the ocean, grows large and strong, and then returns to its natal stream to spawn and start the cycle all over.

Photo by Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media, LLC
Photo by Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media, LLC
If that description reminds you of salmon, you’re spot-on. Steelhead and Pacific salmon share the same habitats and many of the same characteristics. And as we’ve seen with wild salmon, many of our native steelhead runs have been depleted by overfishing and environmental degradation. That’s a shame, because steelhead are one of the most beautiful, amazing fish on the planet.

Unfortunately, the biggest threats to steelhead – and to salmon, as well – are just starting to show up and make an impact. Climate change is beginning to raise river and ocean temperatures while altering the base of the saltwater food chain, while ocean acidification is literally changing the chemical composition of our sea water and placing the future for steelhead and salmon at risk.

Photo by Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media, LLC
Photo by Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media, LLC
To raise the profile of these looming threats, we traveled deep into the coastal wilderness of British Columbia with a handful of passionate anglers and a small camera crew. Our new film, CHROME, celebrates the joy and passion that steelhead evoke in the fly fishing community. The film also takes a long, hard look at the threats that climate change and ocean acidification pose to these iconic fish.

We were incredibly fortunate to have a handful of major conservation organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, support the film. Many of the world’s top fly fishing brands also came on board as sponsors. CHROME is currently touring the U.S. as part of the 2016 Fly Fishing Film Tour, and we anticipate releasing the film, which is 12 minutes long, to the general public in mid-April.


If you care about preserving strong, healthy, landscapes and cold, clear waters, or if you want to protect wild steelhead and salmon, please take a moment to watch and share the CHROME trailer. Then ask Congress to craft strong climate change & energy legislation.

The only way we’re going to protect incredible fish like steelhead and salmon, and the only way we’re going to give our kids and grandkids a shot at a decent future, is by standing tall and demanding that Congress do its job. America has to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and ramp up clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible.

As author Seamus McGraw put it, “If the glint of steelhead in a cold mountain stream or the sight of a lumbering bear on a rocky bank doesn’t quicken your pulse, if the thought of losing it all to a changing climate doesn’t grieve you, there’s probably precious little on this planet that will. But if you’ve got a heart for it, CHROME, the new film from Conservation Hawks, is a call to arms. It demands just a few minutes of your time and pays it back in spades. Visually stunning, poetic, and above all human, it’s calls on all of us to demand action to preserve the wild spaces, and the still wild parts of ourselves. I heartily recommend it.”


About the Author: Todd Tanner is a life-long fisherman, an outdoor writer, and the president of Conservation Hawks.

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Published: February 24, 2016