How To Catch Steelhead

How to catch Steelhead or "everything you ever wanted to know about catching Steelhead but were afraid to ask".

We will list:

  • Steelhead fishing reports

  • Summer run Steelhead

  • Winter run Steelhead

  • Native Steelhead and hatchery Steelhead

  • Columbia River Steelhead runs

  • Popular Steelhead fishing rivers including the Cowlitz River, Lewis River, Columbia River, Wind River, Drano Lake, Umpqua River, Rogue River, and many other popular Oregon Steelhead fishing spots and Washington Steelhead rivers.

  • Techniques for catching Steelhead

  • How to catch and release Steelhead

  • Fish recipes

  • Washington Steelhead fishing guides

  • Oregon Steelhead fishing guides

  • Steelhead fishing tackle

Gary Lewis Guide Service

Gary's Guide Service is located in Roseburg Oregon near some of the best rivers in Southern Oregon like the famous North Umpqua, South Umpqua, Main Umpqua, Elk, Rouge, Sixes, Coquille, and Coos. They are the best Salmon, Steelhead, Smallmouth Bass, and Shad Rivers in Oregon.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has released
its draft steelhead catch estimates from the winter of 2001-02


    Stream Catch

  •   1. Cowlitz 16,572

  •   2. Wynoochee 4,436

  •   3. Skykomish 3,315

  •   4. Bogachiel 3,192

  •   5. Elochoman 2,928

  •   6. North Fork Lewis 2,368

  •   7. Blue Creek 2,272

  •   8. East Fork Lewis 1,850

  •   9. Skagit 1,850

  •  10. Snoqualmie 1,695

  •  11. Kalama 1,351

  •  12. Calawah 1,211

  •  13. lower Hoh 1,180

  •  14. Willapa 1,114

  •  15. N. Stillaguamish 1,109

  •  16. Lyre 1,025

  •  17. Naselle 1,016

  •  18. Skookumchuck 954

  •  19. Green-Duwamish 936

  •  20. Snohomish 919

  •  21. Satsop 908

  •  22. lower Chehalis 886

  •  23. Wallace 872

  •  24. Cascade 751

  •  25. Soleduck 667

  • Figures include hatchery-origin fish only

Set That Hook
How many people do you know that caught their first steelhead when they thought they were snagged and started to pull it loose only to feel the head shake?

This is so common, especially with those who haven't caught a steelhead or haven't caught many. They don't expect to catch a steelhead but they do expect to get snagged up.

"Expect a fish on every cast" That positive attitude will pay off.

I tell my clients to expect a fish and never think it's a snag. If that advice alone was followed we would get a lot more fish. You may feel foolish yanking on nothing, but the one nothing that turns out to be a fish makes it all worthwhile.

Another thing, set the hook like you mean it when drift fishing or bobber fishing. Some time's I'll get a guy in the boat that's a trout fisherman and they're not putting the wood to 'em like they should.

They are called steelhead for a reason.

Another tip, when fishing with a bobber make sure you reel up your slack before the hook set. I know it's exciting to see that bobber go down but if you jerk right away all you're going to do is pull back on your slack. Most of the time there is plenty of time to drop your rod towards the bobber, reel down and pick up all your slack and then set hard. It's even a good idea to reel until you can feel the fish.

Recipe Idea
Place the fillet in a zip lock bag and marinate it in Italian salad dressing for 45 min to an hour. Place it skin side down on aluminum foil and put under the broiler. Just before it's done (about 15 minutes per inch of thickness) sprinkle a layer of shredded parmesan cheese and let it melt.

How to Catch Steelhead Tips

  • In the ocean prawns and shrimp make up a segment of the steelhead's diet. To me, that spells out bait. Steelhead love prawns and shrimp.

  • The ones I use the most are the grey, un-cooked variety found at the local grocery store.

  • They work great for drift fishing or for tipping your jigs and the hooks of your plugs. They also work good in combo with eggs.

  • Easy access makes them very appealing. They last in the freezer for a long time and you can take out as many as you want for the time you will be fishing. Just keep them cool.

  • They're tough and they don't die either, as compared to sand shrimp.

  • Another prawn tail option is the kind of prawns that are cure up for spring chinook. These prawns can be found in the bait freezer a few sporting goods stores.

  • When I was growing up me and my dad used these quite a bit with our corkie and yarn rigs. We would peal them and juice 'em up with shrimp oil.

  • In fact I caught my first steelhead on one of these prawn tails that I had peeled and dyed with flo. red Pro Cure.

  • For either kind of shrimp/prawn peel of the shell and break or cut them into the appropriate size.

  • Use them as they come or try adding some shrimp oil or egg cure.

Steelhead Tip by Kurt Ruden

Old school tap tap tap v.s. slinkie slide tap slide. If your old school and like the lead feel but hate the hang ups, and hate putting those shots in the cord. TIP take 2-3 feet of cord slide over a smoothed out end unrolled and straighten (best you can) traditional lead core, take DULL BUT GOOD LEAD CUTTER, cut 2-3 inch chunks off thru cord, make sure to crunch a little extra cord for melting seal. Seal both sides cut small shot like sizes for slinkie cut into bigger chunks for a more tradional tap tap feel when drifting rivers for steelhead with at least 1/4 of normal rubber lead combo without losing too much feel ....  MY 2 CENTS
Thanks to Kurt Ruden for this tip

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