Many anglers consider steelhead the ultimate game fish and pursue the fish with several fishing methods. Most steelhead are targeted when migrating or "running" up rivers in pursuit of traditional spawning grounds. Unlike salmon, steelhead return to the ocean and do not die after spawning. The ocean habits of steelhead are difficult to track, and most anglers do not attempt to catch the fish outside the spawning season. Steelhead fishing is popular in the Pacific Northwest and in the Great Lakes tributaries.
Fly fishing for steelhead can be approached with several methods. Smaller rivers, such as the Trinity in northern California, can be fished with a single-hand rod and trout-fishing techniques. Strike indicators with a double nymph rig and fishing large streamers are both effective techniques. The larger rivers like those on the Olympic Peninsula are best fished with two-handed spey casting rods. The rods cover the entire width of the river in a single cast. Spey rods also keep the line in front of the angler and prevent hooking trees and brush on the bank. Sinking or floating lines can be used for swinging wet flies and streamers.
Spin fishing is a way to catch steelhead in large and small rivers. Spin fisherman can use lures to aggravate steelhead into aggressive strikes. Lures are popular for covering large tracts of waters, but spin fisherman are quickly catching on to drift-fishing methods. Drift fishing uses a mainline attached to a lead core sinker. A piece of cork is then attached to the hook to keep your hook off the bottom. This technique is popular for fishing deep water. Buoyant spin fishing lines are also suitable for drifting below a cork floater and precision casting.
Bait fishing is one of the original and most effective steelhead fishing techniques. Fishing with worms and various live bait under a sinker allows the angler to access deep water and maintain position until a steelhead decides to strike. Bait fishing is suitable for shore fisherman who have patience and can stay in one position for several hours. Spin fishing and fly fishing are effective from boats and the shore.
Article Written By Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Colorado-mountain-adventure.com. Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.