Steelhead fishing seasonal phases . . . .

Steelhead season, and the run of fish that make it possible, goes through a number of phases that impact your ability to find and catch steelhead.

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You may have different terms to describe what you experience, but these are mine. Low-water kickoff, October mini-run, November stacking, early winter scatter, ice-lock pause, January thaw, spring run, and late spring drop-back.

As the season progresses, we endure the low-water start, get excited as an October mini-run gives us hope that the fall run is on, enjoy finding stacked November steelhead that stage in good holding water, and then we transition to seeking “scatter” fish that migrated upstream. No matter the year, the phases are the same. Only unusual water flow distrupts the timing.

In late November and facing into a water-flow of the proper temperature, steelhead are responding to their nomadic nature head upstream.


I remember one conversation about stream conditions when I expressed the need for more November rain to improve the fishing.   I was told that while a string of wet days may bring in a few additional steelhead, it will surely scatter the bulk of the fish staged near the lake. 

I now believe that those steelhead are constantly moving upstream until dropping water temperature stalls their advance.  Some research studies even suggest that those fish are returning to their “stocking site”. 

Whatever you think, we can agree that November fish move and November fishing trips are usually productive!

The bottom line - to be successful in late November through the days in December when the tributaries become ice locked, you must fish at locations holding steelhead, so keep looking.

Final point, the most popular fishing locations are not necessarily the most productive spots in late November. Trust me, you will know when you find a productive spot and the experience will be worth the search!

If this post creates more questions in your mind, drop a note to jThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Share this FSA Website with others. This information is sponsored by The Green Roof Inn and is shared to make your steelhead trip successful.

Good luck.