During the late fall months in the Great Lakes region, steelhead can be found entering our great lake tributaries in pursuit of salmon eggs. As these hungry fish enter our river systems, a lot of great fishing opportunities open up. Known for their acrobatics and extremely fast runs, these fall steelhead are a blast to target!
While fishing fall steelhead, it is very important to not over look any water. Most times, I won't find steelhead in the typical holes I might in the winter or spring. I'll find them in the tail outs behind the deep holes, or in a small pocket in the middle of a shallow gravel run. Even if it appears to be shallow, always fish it! These fall steelies are in the rivers to feed, so they're going to be anywhere a few salmon eggs could be found. A lot of anglers will bypass the tail out of a hole or a small pocket after fishing the primary deep hole that would typically produce a fish or two during the winter/spring months. Don't get me wrong, always fish the typical deep hole because you never know where there will be a hungry steelhead roaming around. I'll never leave a location while targeting fall steelhead until I've casted in every little pocket, tail out, or hole in the area. I've caught and have seen steelhead caught in some of the most bizarre locations that you could imagine.
Another tactic I use to target Fall steelhead is to find a gravel run or section of river that produced a lot of salmon spawning. Although I don't fish for salmon once they hit gravel, I always like to do my homework and find the location where the most spawning took place that year. Typically, if you can find a gravel run that had a consistent amount of spawning salmon on it throughout the fall, the pockets, holes, and tail outs just downstream will produce for steelhead throughout the fall and up until the brutal winter weather hits. Once winter weather hits and the water temperatures drop into the low 30's, steelhead will typically fall back into deeper holes and lower sections of the rivers.
Don't overlook any water while targeting fall steelhead. Fish everything, even if it looks shallow and you don't have the confidence to pitch your bait into a small pocket or tail out. Don't be afraid to fish water that might only be 3' deep. These fish are in the rivers to feed, so they're going to be anywhere a few salmon eggs could be found. Get out there an experience a jumping and drag screaming fall steelhead.