Steelhead Trout

Common Name: Steelhead Trout


Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus mykiss

Appearance: A migratory, saltwater strain of rainbow trout, steelheads are generally sleeker in shape and more silver in colorthan regular rainbows. However, once in fresh water, steelies take on the same red-and-pink coloration as their cousins. Between this and thewidespread interbreeding between the two strains in fresh water, it can become difficult to positively identify a steelhead away from the ocean.

Distribution: Native to the northern half of the Pacific and adjoining streams, steelhead once ranged from Mexico to Alaska to Asia, though now they’re rare below southern California. Steelhead have been introduced into the Great Lakes, where for the most part they have adapted to an entirely freshwater life cycle.

Spawning: In their natural state, steelhead spend most of their life in saltwater, returning to the rivers where they originally hatched to spawn. Spawning can occur most anytime of the year depending on local conditions, though as a rule they only spawn in cool, clean, oxygen-rich rivers and streams with gravel bottoms and a strong, unobstructedcurrent.

Steelhead will school up in the brackish mouths of their home rivers for a period of time prior to spawning, during which they acclimate to fresh water. Once the fish are ready and water conditions are right (usually triggered by a rainfall) steelhead will move upstream, somtimes hundreds of miles, in search of a suitable spawning ground. During this time, steelhead come to resemble rainbow trout in coloration and body shape, particularly the males.

Female steelhead will clear out a small redd (nest) in the gravel using their tail and lay hundreds to thousands of eggs for a male to fertilize. Once fertilized, the female covers the eggs for incubation, the time of which varies based on temperature and oxygen levels. Once hatched, steelhead juveniles will remain in fresh water for a year or longer before migrating out to sea. At first, steelheads are indistinguishable from rainbows, but take on distinctive characteristics as they reach maturity (though some, smaller steelhead will remain in their home river their entire lives).

Angling: Vigorous, flashy fighters, steelheadare considered the ultimate freshwater gamefish by many anglers. Their incredible speed, strength, and leaping ability make for an exciting experience, requiring a great deal of stamina from fishermen and their equipment. The day you boat your first steelhead is a day you won’t soon forget.

The best time and place to locate steelhead is near the mouth of a known steelhead river in the weeks leading up to a spawn. There you’ll find large numbers of aggressive steelies, ready to strike at any colorful, reflective object drifting on, near, or above the surface. Casting from a boat or riverbank or fly fishing with a long rod are the best methods for steelhead in this situation. A passive presentation, allowing the lure to drift with the current, usually works best, as too splashing from casts or movement can unnerve these high-strung fish.

For catching winter-spawning steelhead in rivers, you’ll need a bit more presentational finesse since the cold water slows their metabolism and makes them less inclined to bite. Use live bait or “hop” a weighted lure along the bottom of the river in a manner resembling a nightcrawler or crustacean, again being careful not to spook the fish with sudden, extreme movements.

When searching for steelhead in the open waters, troll or castfish eggs, nightcrawlers,or drifters at various depths. Be patient, and keep your presentation consistent, as it may take awhile to convince a non-spawning steelhead to strike. But once you’ve got a steelhead hooked, you’re in for a real battle, no matter what the season.

4 Comments on “Steelhead Trout”

  1. I’ve learned many important things through your post. I’d personally also like to state that there may be a situation in which you will obtain a loan and don’t need a co-signer such as a U.S. Student Aid Loan. But when you are getting that loan through a regular banker then you need to be prepared to have a co-signer ready to assist you to. The lenders will certainly base their own decision over a few factors but the greatest will be your credit standing. There are some loan companies that will additionally look at your job history and determine based on that but in many cases it will depend on your report.

  2. you are really a good webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a magnificent job on this topic!

  3. whoah this blog is magnificent i love reading your posts. Keep up the good work! You know, a lot of people are searching around for this information, you could help them greatly.

  4. I have learned some important things by means of your post. I’d personally also like to express that there can be situation in which you will obtain a loan and don’t need a co-signer such as a U.S. Student Support Loan. But when you are getting financing through a standard bank then you need to be willing to have a cosigner ready to assist you to. The lenders may base their decision using a few issues but the most important will be your credit score. There are some loan merchants that will additionally look at your work history and decide based on this but in many cases it will be based on on your rating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *