Will Atlas

As other posters have told you, steelhead are a phenomenal sport fish. their strength and tenacity combined with the absolute blistering speeds they can swim make them the finest freshwater sport fish on the west coast, arguably the world. Not only that, they are gorgeous creatures, capable of migrating vast distances at sea, avoiding sea lions, seals and other predators, migrating past dams, over falls and in some cases going an entire year without feeding. they are adapted to ecosystems ranging from high desert rivers, to coastal spate streams which run massive in the winter and are a trickle in the summer. Summer and winter fish are both wonderful. they offer different challenges and rewards. In winter you can expect to connect with some very large, bright fish. the weather can be downright snotty and foul but thats the nature of the beast. In summer, t-shirts are the rule, however the rivers in our region run low and clear and the fish spook easily and may become dour. Fish them at dawn and dusk.

Yet for all their virtue and strength, our industrial society has taken its toll on wild steelhead in our region. They are a great fish, dont expect to find huge numbers anywhere. However a day in which you hook a hot wild steelhead is one you wont ever forget. Learn to pursue the fish by understanding its behavior and habitats. Learn a river under a host of conditions. Hands down the best tool you have when fishing for steelhead is your mind.

Lastly, fight for wildsteelhead. They give us all they have, everytime we catch them and they need and deserve our help. Only by loudly advocating for the fish can we hope to enjoy these fish into the future.


Ryan Buccola

I ain't broke but brother I am badly bent
Ever since i started focusing my energy on hooking up with a steelhead instead of a woman, both myself and my wife, are happier.

Will Atlas

be warned, as other folks have mentioned here...once you get seriously into steelhead you will scarcely think of fishing for anything else. You will become distant, glazed over, and distracted. Your relationships will suffer and your bank account will almost always be hovering right around zero...that is if it isn't overdrawn. Steelhead are the crack of the fish world. Get one, and you'll have a hard time not going back for seconds.
Steelhead will be the death of me. So take everyones advice and run now and never look back forget about those ghosts they call steelhead as all they are is a figment of our imaginations. The place to start would be at the fly shop picking brains and bullshiting with the guys. ya never know what they might tell ya. Steelheading is a lot of trial and error. although guides and books and all that will make a huge step in your learning curve nothing beats on the water experience, with days, months, and even years of no fish to hand. I think for most of us it just clicked in our heads one day and we started to catch fish a little more consistently, but still somewhere in that kinda knowing what to do you are still baffled and confused over this fish they call a steelhead. Good luck to ya. :beer1:

Jake Bannon

nymphs for steelhead....
Its closer for you to shoot over the Hood Canal and fish huh?

I dont fish Hood Canal rivers for steelhead, most of those rivers have very poor fish returns if any at all. I do the coast and the OP. As for what has been said by others, couldnt agree much more.....

Chrome Dreams!

best, hardest, most beautiful thing that swims fresh / salt water.

nothing compares.
Until you hook a 10-15 pound bonefish. Different genetics, different tail structure, different conditions, just a different experience in every way. But I can draw comparisons between the two species every time I go out. That's why they are part of the "Big 4" for fly anglers.... Bonefish, Tarpon, Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon. Each species has stolen many a heart and wrecked more than one marriage!:D Duffer
PS I still love my steelhead.


I don't know...I love the winter for the insanity of being out in all weather, the beauty of the flies, the swing, the tug is the drug mentality...

Summers, Wet wading and hot sun...gin clear water and skating dries to aggressive fish that you can watch come up and take then fight like hell!!!

I love um both...but everytime I hook a kamloops rainbow and watch and feel their passion I love them too....

Whenever I get a fresh ocean chum who freaking rips out my line and causes me to actually use my drag...Damn I love them too....


I'm just damn glad I'm a fly fisherman and can enjoy it ALL!!!


Active Member
I almost exclusively fish for steelhead (well 95% of my fishing anyway) and do so year round. I haven't fished for resident trout in at least 14 years, but I do miss fishing several Montana rivers, I just can't justify traveling 700 miles to the great trout fishing in Montana when I have steelhead in my backyard. As to why, Coach said it well.
Steelheader possesses one key quality......Eternal faith. No matter how many skunkings, there's that next outing, that next run. I don't know where that eternal faith and hope comes from. The hope and anticipation is palateable.

Someone once said that if steelheading is a religion, then winter steelheaders are its monks.

I thought I had a rare disease, but I can see it is common, perhaps contagious. I am leaving in a week to fish trout in Idaho, and all I can do is think about the steelhead I hooked and landed on the Klick the past couple weeks. I started tying flies for the trout, some Elk Hair Caddis on a #16 hook, and the next thing I know I'm tying them on a 1/0 hook and trying to figure out the riffle hitch to skate them over a steelhead lie. My prince nymphs have morphed into size 4, 4XL hooks with enough lead to ballast a 35 foot sailboat, the better to get them down quickly to the likely lies. I spend my evenings reading and re-reading Simon Gawesworth's book on spey casting and practicing the movements while laying in bed. The only relief I get from this disease is in the late winter when I've been skunked multiple times in multiple trips, and March rolls around, and the lakes open and that will give me some diversion. But by the time June rolls around, I go out in the streams and though I'm trout fishing, I'm thinking of the steelhead again. It's a never-ending cycle.......