Steelhead is basically a trout that has adapted to act like a salmon. These fish are born in freshwater and once they have spent 2 or 3 years they return to the ocean to grow and mature. Once sexually mature they act just like salmon and return to the very same river and a poll where they were born. Steelhead is an amazing fish to fish for and over the years have become somewhat of a cult with fly anglers. A bit like Sea Trout these fish offer a welcome break and a fresh new challenge to all salmon anglers.
Also know as: Steeles
Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus mykiss
The freshwater form of the Steelhead Trout is the Rainbow trout and the only difference between these two species is that steelhead migrates to the ocean and return to freshwater tributaries to spawn. Steelhead are also larger and a lot less colourful than Rainbow trout and as Steelhead can live up to 11 years and spawn multiple times they can weigh a lot more with some specimens reaching up to 40 pounds in weight. The body of the Steelhead is silver in colour and streamlined with a much rounder head than the rainbow trout, they also have black dots and a red or pink stripe running horizontally down the side of the fish. It is this silver colour and rounder head that gives the steelhead its name.
Steelhead reach sizes well over 40b in weight but the average size you will find is normally around 8lb.
Where to Catch
Steelhead stays in freshwater for one to three years before making their way to the ocean. As they become older, they prefer cold, deep pools and are particularly reliant on the shade to keep the slower moving water in these locations cool. Some Steelhead return from the ocean during November to May (“winter-run” Steelhead) at the age of four or five, while other younger Steelhead (aged three) will enter freshwater between April and October (“summer-run” Steelhead). Winter and Summer Steelhead are considered different races, though they both spawn between January to May and often share the same stream or river. All of these best places can be found on our dedicated Steelhead page.
Tactics include swinging with a switch or spey rods and Indicator fishing with a switch or single-handed rod Top flies are Intruders, Mini-Intruders, Hoh Bo Spey, Popsicle, Prom Dress, Pick Your Pocket, Leeches and some sculpin patterns.