- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Steelhead have a bluish-gray back and upper sides and bright, silvery lower sides, with a crisp separation between the two colors. The upper halves of their bodies are heavily speckled with small black spots. Their tail fin is completely covered with spots and may be squared or slightly forked. The interior of the steelheads mouth is white. The body is more elongate than other types of rainbow trout, and they are fast, strong swimmers.
Steelhead are native to the Pacific Ocean, but travel to inland streams and rivers spanning from southern California to southern Alaska during spawning runs. During this migration the steelhead may be found as far as inland as Idaho and Montana. They have also been successfully introduced to the Great Lakes region and its tributaries, as well as other freshwater lakes and rivers.
Steelhead are anadromous, living in both fresh water and salt water. In fresh water, they prefer temperatures below 70 F and can tolerate temperatures anywhere from 32 to 80 F. They require clean spawning rivers and prefer the faster running parts of those streams.
Steelhead spawn in large, freshwater streams and rivers. Though there is a fairly high mortality rate during spawning, especially for males, but many steelhead survive depending on how deep into the freshwater systems they travel. Some that do suvive may spawn three or four times during their lifetime.
Steelhead have the appearance of resident rainbow trout only during spawning runs. They enter their natal steam silver and blue but slowly develop the distinct pink to red gill cover and lateral strip that is the namesake feature of rainbow trout.
The males coloration is darker than the females and is often referred to, by anglers, as darkfish. Female coloring changes are similar but not as pronounced, attaining a pinkish gillcover and lateral stripe. In both genders these changes disappear as the steelhead return to the ocean.
Steelhead enter spawning rivers and streams year round, depending upon factors related to climate and geography, such as water levels and temperature. In Alaska, steelhead runs are generally divided into winter runs from November to May and summer runs from May to October, while in British Columbia they run in late winter and spring to take advantage of high water levels following the first snowmelts.
Females prepare a gravel nest called a redd by flipping their tail fin back and forth. After eggs and milt are deposited, the female immediately moves just upstream to dig another redd, and in doing so covers the previous redd with loose gravel. This process is repeated until the females eggs are spent. Males may spawn with more than one female.
Eggs hatch in four to seven weeks and the juveniles will rear in freshwater for two to four years before to migrating to the sea.
Adult steelhead feed on squid, euphasid, amphipods and fish. While young, steelhead feed on insects, copepods, amphipods and other crustaceans, as well as other small fish.
Steelhead are one of the most prized sport fish of the northwest United States because of their tasty meat, large size, and strong fighting abilities. They are notably acrobatic and have been observed leaping five feet out of the water when hooked. Although steelhead are caught in the ocean, most are taken in the river systems in which they return to spawn.
Steelhead present a challenge to both find and land. Conditions on rivers change rapidly and a productive fishing spot one day for steelhead may be barren the next. They are, however, often found in the same parts of the river year after year. Thus, for the unfamiliar angler, it is recommended that a guide be hired or consult with local residents that are familiar with a given river.
If that is not an option, remember that steelhead like fast, deep-running water, so cast in white-water areas and the deep holes of the stream. Areas on the edges of fast water or where the water is broken by a rock, log, or another object may also prove fruitful.
Also try the heads or tails of pools. If the fish are on or near their spawning bed, they will generally be found in shallow water with a gravel bottom, but could still be in deeper spots nearby.
Another factor to consider is the season. Steelhead seek out faster water or shady areas during summer, while they tend to be in the slower stretches if the water temperature is below 40 F.
In rivers, they bait well on salmon or steelhead eggs, shrimp, crayfish tails and night crawlers, but also take lures, such as spoons, spinners and jigs, bobbers and flies. Flies that are colorful often work best.
- Steelhead are the state fish of Washington.
- For every 100 young steelhead entering the ocean, only 5 to 10 will survive to return to their natal river or stream to spawn.