The best time to fish for steelhead trout

The steelhead trout is genetically the same as a rainbow trout. The difference between the two is that the steel head doesn’t just stay in streams or rivers. On the Pacific coast, it migrates to and from the ocean. They were also stored in the Great Lakes and are about to return to the streams!

With patience and practice, Steelhead Trout can be caught at any time of the day. Fly anglers believe that daylight is when they need to fish so they can see the fish and adjust the representation of their drift. However, low light is often the best time to fish for steelhead trout when using spinning gear. The first light in the morning and especially at sunset is often touted as the best bite.

Our steelhead trips usually start with a short hike in the dark. With this in mind, it is helpful to bring a well-functioning flashlight so that you not only arrive without a broken fishing rod, but also to recharge the glow-in-the-dark bait that we love to cast. My son and I also have lights attached to or built into a cap to free our hands.

This season we’ve added lighted slap wristbands to our gear for extra safety while fishing. Though never very far apart, my son and I clip these new soft lights in a location where we can always see each other and use the blinking setting to quietly communicate that we only have one plugged in instead of lifting our phones out or yelling over crashing waves and alerting other fishermen.

In my neck of the forest, steelhead streams can get very crowded. If you follow these Steelhead fishing tips and are the early bird, you can experience the creek with less pressure. It also helps to watch out for the hunting season, as “opening days” can instead send many budding anglers into the forest. But make sure you have an up-to-date fishing license with the correct stickers.

And one more steelhead fishing tip: additional stickers are likely to be required to fish the Great Lakes for Steelhead.

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida but raised on the banks of farm ponds in Oklahoma, he now hunts pike, small bass and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After graduating from OSU with a degree in zoology, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fishery research technician at OSU, in the US state of Iowa and Michigan.

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