Steelhead(aka Rainbows) or “Steelies” are a migratory rainbow trout. In the Pacific Northwest, steelhead live in the ocean and run into a river or stream to spawn. Whereas a  true “rainbow” would live his entire life in a river or smaller lake. In the Great Lakes, steelhead live in the lake and run into rivers and streams to spawn. 

Spawning season, unlike the rest of our salmon and trout species occurs in the late winter and into spring. Steelhead are truly a blast to catch. They hit very hard, usually stripping drag immediately. It is also very common for them to jump clear out of the water several times during the fight. Unfortunately for us, they often times earn their freedom by doing this but that’s what makes things interesting! Steelhead tend to favor the top 50 feet in the water column and feed heavily on insects, and baitfish of all types and sizes. Steelhead are a very common species but definitely one that is hard to pin down. We will catch several of them on each trip for a week and all of a sudden they disappear for two weeks. Steelhead start showing up in mid to late May, but overall June and July seem to be the best months. I can remember plenty of great steelhead catches in August and even September, though. So go figure, right! Steelhead average 5-10lbs and fish upwards of 15lbs are taken each year. At one time, the world record inland steelhead was taken in Lake Michigan not too far from Kenosha. It weighed over 30lbs!