Steelhead Trout

Type:
Fresh Water, Salt Water
Steelhead are a native type of rainbow trout that are anadromous. Anadromous means they spawn in freshwater streams, go to the ocean to grow, and return to fresh water as adults. Fishing for steelhead typically occurs from October through March. 

Life History
Steelhead spawn in streams from mid-April to late June. They use areas of gravel, or cobble, depending on the size of the fish. The female selects a place in a riffle area below a pool to dig a redd (nest). She displaces the gravel with her body and tail, and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are deposited. The female covers the eggs with gravel by continuing upstream and the current carries the gravel over the eggs.

The eggs hatch in early to midsummer. The young fish live in the stream and migrate to the ocean, usually after two years of rearing in the stream. The juvenile fish that migrate to the ocean will grow rapidly.

When they mature and are ready to spawn, the steelhead migrate back to the place they were born. They enter the lower river drainages in the fall (Sept.-Oct.) and winter over to spawn the following spring, which allows a fall and spring fishing season.Most require 3 to 5 years to mature.

Feeding Habits
Steelhead trout eat insects and zooplankton in the water or on the surface. They will also feed on small fish and fish eggs. As they get larger, they will eat larger fish. Adult steelhead holding in the river prior to spawning do not eat much, but will strike at food or lures.

Angling Techniques
Steelhead respond to a variety of angling techniques. Since they are not feeding as they wait to spawn, the angler pesters the steelhead enough to get it to strike. They're aggressive and will take a variety of bait, lures, and flies. 

 
Fishing Waters
Running parallel to the Au Sable for several miles, the Manistee, known to locals as the “Big Manistee,” turns southwest instead of east and makes its way to Lake Michigan. Regarded ... moreby the state as a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream, several miles of its waters are also designated as a national Wild and Scenic River. Similar to the Au Sable, experienced anglers consider this to be one of the finest fisheries east of the Mississippi.

Like the Au Sable, the Manistee was once home to Artic gray, and here too they disappeared as logging destroyed their ecosystem. Fortunately for the region, from 1933 to 1942 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) actively repaired habitat structures, reforested the surrounding area and planted millions of fish in the rivers and the streams that feed into them.

Today the river is primarily a brown fishery, although brook and rainbow can also be found, with the best fishing at the upper end of the river. Here, non-migratory trout tend to average about 12-14 inches. Initially a narrow, easily waded 15-25 feet across, over the next 30-miles it gradually opens up to as wide as 200 feet and picks up speed. Throughout the lower reaches of the river you can expect to find steelhead, salmon and large browns from Lake Michigan. In fact, the river holds the U.S. record for brown trout with a lake-river run, weighing in at over 40 pounds.

Public access is available for the entire length of the river with ample parks, campgrounds and boat launches. One section 17-mile section, between Michigan 72 and the CCC Bridge, is open year round and reserved for fly fishing only; it is considered the best place to catch resident large browns. The combination of a sand, silt and gravel bottom along with fallen logs, undercut banks, deep runs, and abundant pools, make the Manistee a great place for trout to thrive.
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Starting at Little Lava Lake in central Oregon, this 252 mile, southward flowing River, takes a turn at the Wikiup Reservoir, defies gravity and flows north until it empties into the ... moreColumbia River. Archaeologists will tell that for eons, the Deschutes was an important route for Native Americans as they traveled to and from the Columbia. Later, in the 19th century, Historians will tell you that the river was an important marker for pioneers, eventually becoming part of the famous Oregon Trail.

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Today the river is considered an important part of our national heritage due to its extraordinary beauty and bountiful fisheries. Over 145 miles of the river have been designated as a National Recreational River while another 30 miles are crowned with National Wild and Scenic River distinction. Typically thought of in three sections – upper, middle and lower - the river passes through high arid country, flower filled meadows, and steep canyons.

As an official “blue ribbon” river, the Deschutes is perhaps most famous for its Columbia River redband trout, known locally as redsides. These trout have an unusual, bright red stripe that covers the bottom half of their bodies; the spots on the upper body are darker than other wild rainbow. Depending on where you are on the river, there can be as many as 1,700 redbands per mile, ranging from 8 – 16 inches. 

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Warm Springs to Macks Canyon is the preferred stretch for catching redbands. There is good redband fishing along Warm Springs Tribal Land but special permits are required. The section from Pelton Dam to the River’s mouth has high concentrations of wild trout, including summer steelhead. The entire river is managed as a wild trout fishery.
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Nestled in rocky basin along side steep canyon walls, this 40-mile Feather River tributary is known for its great beauty and abundant trout. By car, it a short drive from Sacramento. ... moreThe Yuba River continues through the canyons until it flattens around Parks Bar Bridge then runs parallel to highway.

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Species include wild rainbow trout, steelhead in the fall, and striped bass. While rainbows tend to average about 12 inches, there are recent reports of 18-25 inch trout being found.
Game Fish Opportunities:
The American River watershed offers fishermen (and fisherwomen) a wide range of experiences, from fly-fishing in the clear streams of the Sierra Nevada to casting for steelhead in ... morethe lower American as it flows through Sacramento. The American River contains two main sections. The North Fork and the Lower American River

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The North Fork of the American River is designated as a while trout water. Most of the North Fork flows through a deep canyon carved through metamorphic rock. It has a very rugged character with very steep slopes and a narrow bottom. Deep pools framed by sheer cliffs, waterfalls cascading from 40 to 70 feet, and benches, densely wooded with alder and willow are typical of the beauty found in the North Fork Canyon. The fishery is dominated by Rainbow trout, with an occasional Brown trout (the brown trout are usually lunkers!).

Fishing enthusiasts can choose from a number of trails to access the river canyon, most of them dropping steeply from the canyon rim down to the water. While visitation peaks in the summer, primarily driven by hikers/swimmers, late spring into mid-summer is typically the height of the boating season. The highest boatable reach is known as Generation Gap (12 miles), run by only the most experienced Class V boaters, which can only be accessed by a three-mile long walk. The next lower reach, known as Giant Gap (14 miles), is also Class V and is accessed by a two-mile hike down the Euchre Bar Trail. Although overnight camping permits are not required, if visitors want a campfire, they will need to obtain a fire permit.

The Lower American River is a short stretch of river, flowing through the city of Sacramento, is the most heavily used recreation river in California. It provides an urban greenway for trail and boating activities and is also known for its runs of steelhead trout and salmon.
Nestled in the Methow River Valley and known as the Jewel of the Cascades, this 80-mile Columbia tributary is known for its great beauty and abundant trout. By car, it can be reached ... morewithin two hours from Ellensburg or about 3 ½ hours from Seattle. Five towns dot the valley landscape - Mazama, Winthrop Twisp, Carlton and Methow – each with a charm of their own.

The Methow and its tributaries, the Twisp River, Cedar Creek and Early Winters Creek begin in the high, Methow Pass area of the Cascades and continue to join with additional tributaries until their confluence with the Columbia River at Pateros. The Pacific Rim Trail follows the River’s upper reaches while other landmarks such as Star Peak and Mt. Bigelow, two of the state’s highest peaks, add to the river’s splendor.

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The river can be waded or floated. Anglers tend to divide the river into three sections: Winthrop to Twisp; Twisp to Carlton; and, Carlton to Gold Creek. Each has differing flows although the lower section has rapids and tends to be turbulent.

Steelhead season changes annually but the trout season typically opens June 1st and closes September 30th. The section below Winthrop is considered by many to be the most desirable. Dry fishing throughout the summer is excellent but fall/winter is the best time, especially for those interested in steelhead. Still something of an insider’s river, the clear watered Methow is often overlooked by anglers and is rarely congested.

Species include wild rainbow trout, wild cutthroat, native bull trout, steelhead (indigenous and hatched) and chinook salmon. While fish tend to average about 12 inches, there are recent reports of 18-25 inch trout being found southeast of Carlton.

Before booking a trip, check to see if the river is closed for spawning and if all fish need to be released. Depending on conditions, anglers may be permitted to keep hatchery steelhead.
The Klickitat River, located in south-central Washington, flows generally south from its origin on Mt. Adams in the high country of the Yamaka Indian Reservation to its confluence ... morewith the Columbia River in the Columbia River Gorge. The designated segment is the lowermost 10.8 miles of the river. At the upper end of this segment, the river flows through a broad canyon. As it drops toward the Columbia at a steady gradient of 26 feet per mile, the canyon tightens and small rapids spike the channel.

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At about river mile 2.5, the Klickitat drops into a tight, rock-walled gorge. The water cascades and crashes through the rocky channel where the tribes and bands of the Yamaka Nation have used dip-net fishing continuously for generations to catch salmon and steelhead. Of the mid-Columbia tributaries, the Klickitat is one of the favored fishing sites, due to both the number of fish and the narrow canyon with its high water volume.

In addition to the river's outstanding hydrology, the geology of the gorge between river mile 1.1 and 2.5, and the dip-net fishing sites, the river is also the most significant anadromous fishery on the Washington side of the Columbia in the stretch from Bonneville Dam to the Snake River. It supports steelhead trout, Chinook salmon and coho salmon, with six distinct runs.

The lower Klickitat offers a variety of recreation opportunities, including boating, fishing, hiking, camping and sightseeing. Boat fishing is popular when the salmon and steelhead are running. There is an undeveloped boat put-in/take-out on Klickitat County Park land just below the Pitt bridge, and river access at several places along Highway 142, including a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fee camp site. The take-out is before the fish screw trap at about river mile 5, just above the Klickitat canyon gorge. Ongoing construction of the fish bypass at the top of Lyle Falls requires boaters to take out at this point. The falls also marks the beginning of the tribal in-lieu fishing sites and no boating is allowed through this area.

The only permits required are from commercial outfitters; existing commercial outfitters include beginning kayak schools and fishing guides.

The Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad built a railway linking Lyle and Goldendale in 1903. This branch line was abandoned in 1992 and is now the Klickitat Rails-to-Trail. The trail parallels the river's east bank from the Columbia River to Fisher Hill Bridge, where it crosses to the west bank and continues to the town of Pitt. It crosses Highway 142 and continues along the west bank leaving the wild and scenic river portion and continues for many miles upriver.
The Sacramento River is the principal river of Northern California in the United States, and is the largest river in California. Rising in the Klamath Mountains, near Mount Shasta ... more(in Siskiyou county), the river flows south for 445 miles, through the northern section (Sacramento Valley) of the Central Valley, before reaching the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay. It forms a common delta with the San Joaquin River before entering Suisun Bay, the northern arm of San Francisco Bay. The river drains about 27,500 square miles, with an average annual runoff of 22 million acre-feet, in 19 California counties, mostly within a region bounded by the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada known as the Sacramento Valley, but also extending as far as the volcanic plateaus of Northeastern California.

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Born of the spring snowmelt from Mount Dana and Mount Lyell, the Tuolumne starts in Yosemite National Park and runs for over fifty miles before entering the Stanislaus National Forest ... moreand public land managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Flowing through some of America’s most glorious scenery, its whitewater rapids require respect as well as permits before entering its turbulent rifts. If you choose to float the river, the optimal time is between May and September. Water levels vary according to releases made by the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power agency as they manage the dam. Permits can be obtained from the Stanislaus National Forest’s Groveland Ranger District Office or by visiting the US Forest Service website.

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Emerald green, wild and free. This is the Smith River, one of the longest rivers in the National Scenic Rivers System and the only major river in California to remain un-dammed. Over ... more300 miles of this river are federally protected, forming an important part of the Smith River National Recreation Area. The US Forest Service is responsible for overseeing the diverse region as the Smith River and its tributaries make their way through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and Redwoods National Park to the Pacific Ocean.

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The National Recreation Area is more than 450 square miles of land set aside to preserve great forests, rare fauna, wilderness landscapes, pristine mountain lakes and immense, deep canyons. The presence of old growth trees serves to keep the river banks of the river and its tributaries shaded and cool, a key element to protecting native, cold-water fisheries. The area is well known for its abundance of steelhead trout and salmon.
More than a river, the Klamath is part of a regional watershed that includes three of its principal tributaries – Wooley Creek, Scott River and the Salmon River. It is one of only ... morethree rivers that bisect the Cascade Mountain Range, traversing a wide range of topography from high desert to coastal rain forest. Beginning approximately three-quarters of a mile below the Iron Gate Dam, the river runs through until it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Administration of the river is split. The upper, 127 miles are managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The State of California, in concert with the National Park Service and various Native American tribes, manage the remainder. All of its tributaries, except a small portion of the Scott are under the purview of the US Forest Service.

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The most notable characteristic of the Klamath is its variety of androgynous fish, supported by the river throughout most of their in-river life stages. These species include Chinook salmon (spring and fall runs) coho salmon, steelhead trout (summer and winter runs) coastal cutthroat trout, green and white sturgeon and Pacific lamprey. The river is also home to a genetically unique population of rainbow trout that have adapted to river’s high temperatures and acidity.

Considered by ecologists to be important to the area’s bio-diversity, the Southern Oregon and Northern California Coast coho are federally listed as endangered species and the Klamath River is a designated, critical habitat. This habitat also provides a home for other endangered fish including Lost River and short-nose suckers. Despite this designation, the river supports a thriving sports fishing industry as well as myriad other uses including white water rafting, birding, hiking and camping. 

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