Seasonal Tactics For Migratory Steelhead
“Migratory Steelhead fishing requires patience, skill, and a mind which naturally reads the water”
This Steelhead has been in the river for a while, you can tell by its dark color, also, it is a male; you can tell this by the fish’s hook-like snout!
Steelhead on the fly rod can be one of the most challenging fish to catch, period. These gorgeous trout share similar characteristics with various species of salmonoids, specifically the Atlantic Salmon. These beautiful and miraculous fish reside on West Coast of the United States as well as in the vast country of Russia; however my favorite place to target these fish is along the rivers flowing into our Great Lakes. These monstrous trout were stocked into the Great Lakes watershed on numerous occasions in the 1800’s.
“When Steelhead are in the mindset of migration, this is my favorite fly. It sinks into deep holes, representing a single egg, Steelhead eat eggs during the migratory season to achieve dominance over the other fish in the river, it’s a great example of underwater natural-selection ”
The places that Steelhead reside tend to be “breath-taking”. As previously stated, they are most plentiful in the Western U.S. This is a picture taken on the North Shore, Minnesota, in front of one of my favorite river mouths.
“My favorite method is slow-drifting some sort of egg pattern through slow, deep pools. A lot of times the Steelhead will bite on the swing, so pay keen attention to your strike indicator at all times.”
Background and History:
Steelhead are close relatives to rainbow trout, and have a gorgeous silver/chrome glitter to them. These trout are ridiculously acrobatic and put the most extreme anglers with a tough task. Most of the fly fishing techniques used to catch steelhead are based on those historically developed to catch Atlantic salmon. Drift your fly pattern downstream, if you like to fish with a strike indicator, I would recommend a floating line. Rio makes a really good 8 weight floating line which I personally use; Rio Nymph Fly Line Camo Green (Look it up in our shop, under lines in the fly fishing section.) These chrome creatures generally produce a violent strike; near the end of your drift at most times.
“If you plan on dead drifting with a nymph, here is a great pattern to start with; tie up some sizes 14-18”
“Steelhead are around and abundant in the winter months, plan your next expedition with me this spring, I will guide you along the North Shore of Lake Superior, firstname.lastname@example.org “
Winter steelhead are often considered the “hard-core” of fly anglers, at times painfully enduring hours of repeated casting, with ice chunks forming in the guides of your rod. However, if you can find one fish, there are generally clusters of steelhead localized together in deep river pools and gullies. The main thing I preach to fellow anglers is patience. Once you do get that hook up you are looking for, treat that fish like a baby, natural steelhead are on the decline. You will not see big numbers of catches like you will on most smaller trout ecosystems. Always keep a positive mindset and an eye on the water!
Most of the deeper steelhead pockets are found downstream, so you may need to hike a long time before finding some good fishable water. You may encounter of hard core anglers along the way, so make sure you never crowd anyone, because most true steelhead anglers like to “get away from it all”. For me, the river is a place for solitude, peace, and spiritual blessings. With this being said, please practice kindness and proper on the river ethics.
Love where we live and be thankful for the greatness of our remaining underwater ecosystems,