Winter Games: The Steelhead Experience

The salmon fishing may be on hold over the winter, but the prize-fighting steelheads have returned to spawn in the rivers around Masset, specifically the Yakoun and Tlell. These mature fish are not as abundant as the Chinook and Coho, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in grit. For those up for the wintery challenge, steelhead fishing can provide the patient angler with the ultimate freshwater experience.


Steelhead, once thought to be closely related to trout, are actually much more like the giants Escott customers usually seek at the best salmon fishing in Haida Gwaii. Like salmon, steelheads are born in fresh water and then move to the ocean for their adult years. They also migrate back to the rivers they were born in to spawn.


Unlike salmon, once they have spawned, the stronger steelhead return to the ocean. These mighty fish are then able to make another trip back to their freshwater homes to spawn for a second time. Impressive! That determination alone tells you something about the fighting heart of the steelhead.

Most steelhead are caught using wet flies during the winter months. This technique of fly-fishing involves sinking the fly lure and floating it downstream with the current. Unlike spring and summer fly-fishing where the flies imitate surface insects, the winter flies are designed to sink, resembling drowned insects.


Because of the dramatically cooler conditions in the winter, the steelhead’s senses are dulled. This makes them less observant, increasing the difficulty of landing one.


They are also at their maximum size, after feeding in the ocean and securing a weight that will allow them the energy to spawn.


Once hooked the pull can be incredible. With the added tactile experience of the fly rod, reeling in a steelhead on a cold day in February is a fight with Mother Nature where all the odds are against the angler.

Think you’re up to the task?

Call us to book a winter freshwater adventure: 1-604-818-5106.

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