The Salmonidae family (salmon and trout) includes more than sixty species and sometimes it may be difficult even for experienced anglers to tell them from each other. Steelhead salmon (rainbow trout) and common salmon are often considered to be the same fish among amateur anglers, but these are actually not. Although both share similar traits, they have many vivid differences which cannot remain noticed. In this article we are going to speak about the trout species as one of the most popular fish to angle in the world. We will describe the fish itself, its common habitat, behavior and sport fishing characteristics.
Steelhead Salmon Versus Common Salmon
Unlike salmon which die after returning to freshwater and spawning, steelhead are able to spawn several times although their migration patterns are similar to those of common salmon. In the sea steelhead are blue from above and silver from below, while in fresh water they seem to be more greenish. The tiny scales of the body are covered with small black spots on the back and fins. As a rule, an average steelhead weighs about 10 pounds, although big fish can reach up to 40 pounds. The length of the body is approximately 45 inches.
Steelhead inhabit freshwater lakes and rivers for 1 to 4 years before going downstream to the open ocean. Steelhead tend to migrate individually, while salmons move in schools. It takes from 1 to 5 years of sea life for this species before going back to natal streams and rivers. During their lifecycle steelhead also inhabit estuaries and other salty and fresh water bodies. They lay eggs in medium and small gravel bottom with a fast water flow (it brings oxygen for the eggs to survive).
Fishing for Steelhead
Steelhead salmon fall into the top five sport fish species of north America and currently only Native Americans are allowed to fish for this species commercially in Washington or Oregon. Although, if you don’t run a steelhead business and simply want to enjoy exciting sport fishing, you have nothing to worry about. However, to be on the safe side you need to get acquainted with fishing regulations issued for the state you are going to fish in. Steelhead fishing restrictions are established to keep the healthy populations in a certain region.
Steelhead Fishing Techniques
Drift fishing is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to catch a steelhead salmon. This technique implies bouncing the bait off the river or stream bottom as the strong water flow rushes by. Experienced anglers say that rigging a line in a right way is the keystone of this trusted fishing method. Minimum nine or even ten feet rods are the most beneficial as they give more control and can provide longer casts. Level wind and spinning reels are mostly used when fishing for steelhead, although the latter is known to be tough to control. When drifting for steelhead, live bait is the best option (sand shrimps, crayfish tails, prawns etc.).