Posted on: 10 June 2015Share
Steelhead are fun to catch and even better to eat. They're part of the salmon family, with a color, taste and texture similar to salmon, according to the Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico. For most fishers on the Great Lakes, the winter steelhead season doesn't start until late November. If you have a boat and are able to keep its windshield free of ice, though, you can enjoy these salmon-like fish earlier in the month by catching them offshore.
Fishing for Steelhead from Shore
On the Great Lakes, the winter steelhead run follows a couple of months behind the freshwater salmon run. In September, salmon start making their way up the lakes' tributaries to their spawning ground, and then their steelhead cousins begin the same journey in late November. This is when the waters in their spawning grounds are cool enough, between 48 and 58°F, for them.
Fishers who don't have a boat need to wait for the steelhead to head for their spawning grounds, so they're within a cast's distance of shore. As the fish swim up rivers that empty into the Great Lakes, fishers can catch them.
Fishing for Steelhead Offshore
For those with a boat, there's little reason to wait until the steelhead reach the lakes' rivers. The bottom of the lakes reaches steelhead's preferred temperature range well before waters that aren't as deep do. As long as you have a boat and are prepared for the cold conditions, you can fish for steelhead offshore.
When heading out on the Great Lakes, safety is of the utmost importance. Not only are harsh conditions more likely than they are in July and August, but there's also fewer boaters on the water to help if you get into trouble. You should have all of your safety equipment, such as a radio, life jacket and flares, as well as plenty of warm clothing.
Keeping Your Boat's Windshield Free of Ice
You'll also need a way to keep ice from forming on your boat's windshield. Even though the water may not be frozen yet, the air temperature might dip below 32°F. If it does, spray from waves or sleet could build up on your boat's windshield.
Along with the safety equipment that you carry in summer, you should also pack an ice scraper and can of de-icing spray on your boat. The scraper is useful for removing lots of ice or sleet that builds up. De-icing spray is a quicker way to remove ice that accumulates from waves in rough conditions. When you can't afford to spend several minutes scraping off your boat's windshield, a quick application of de-icer will melt ice off your windshield.
You may also want to talk with a boat mechanic about installing a defroster for your boat's windshield. If you own a basic fishing boat that has a small windshield, a defroster might not cost too much to install. Even if you have one put in, though, you should still carry a scraper and can of de-icing spray on your boat during cold months. For, you don't want to be stuck offshore without a working defroster and no other way to clear your boat's windshield of ice in November.
Enjoying Steelhead Before Your Friends
If you like the taste of salmon, you'll probably also enjoy steelhead. As long as you have a boat, you don't have to wait long after the salmon run to fish for steelhead. Be the first of your friends to enjoy a nice steelhead steak by heading offshore in your boat. Just be sure to put safety first by making sure you have a way to keep your boat's windshield free of ice in the cold conditions.