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About Salmon And Steelhead (2 of 11)

Video Transcript:

Anglers have enjoyed catching salmon and steelhead since Europeans first came to North America. Whether on the east coast, or west, there were huge runs of migratory species to catch. They're known as migratory species because they live in oceans or large lakes, but return to rivers to spawn. Salmon and steelhead are anadromous. They're born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, and then return to freshwater to reproduce. This is different than trout in rivers, which are year-round residents, where salmon and steelhead only migrate through a river system to reach spawning grounds. It's generally during this migration period that we fish for them.

In the Atlantic, the principle species is the Atlantic salmon, which is caught in North America from Maine, all the way north to rivers in Labrador. It's also found in many rivers in northern Europe. Known as the king of game fish, the Atlantic salmon are exceptionally popular because of their incredible strength, and propensity for jumping, or leaping when hooked, which is why their scientific name in Latin means "the leaper".

On the Pacific coast, the rivers from California, all the way north to Alaska, have five different species of salmon, and steelhead available. Each species has a specific migration time depending on the location and time of year. The species of Pacific salmon that fly fishers target are chinook, coho, pink, chum, and sockeye salmon. All require different presentation techniques and flies, but there are general methods of presentation that are common to all. More about that later in the show.

Steelhead are essentially rainbow trout that live in saltwater, or in large lakes like The Great Lakes. They, too, migrate up rivers to spawn at different times of year. They're legendary fighters, prized by anglers, and exist in their native form in rivers from southern California, all the way to the panhandle of Alaska. They've also been introduced to The Great Lakes system. That's a good fish!

Much like Atlantic salmon, steelhead can be caught on dry flies at certain times of the year, which can make for some exceptionally fun surface fishing. In addition to steelhead, Pacific salmon have also been successfully introduced into The Great Lakes. You can swing flies for coho on rivers in Michigan, and use nymphing techniques to catch steelhead in Pennsylvania. There have been different techniques that have evolved to help catch these migratory fish, but there are presentation methods common to all.