Steelhead Fishing

Steelhead fishing on the Situk heats up sometime in April and peaks towards the end of April. Anglers can catch these indomitable metalheads with fly fishing or conventional gear. Here’s a look at our recommendations for either angling style.


A 7- to 9-weight fly rod, that is 9- to 11 feet long with a fast action, is a good starting point. Match the rod with a reel with ample drag that is spooled with floating, weight-forward line. Leader materials vary greatly. We suggest having a heavy butt section, say 25-pound-test, with fluorocarbon tippet in the 12- to 15-pound-test range. We typically prefer indicator or “nymph” fishing techniques using Airlock or Thingamabobber indicators (1/2- to 1-inch) and micro jigs, flies or beads. Bead sizes from 8-26mm are used, however 10-14mm are the most common sizes for Situk steelhead. Colors vary but any mix of pinks and oranges should do the trick. Micro jigs from 1/32- to 1/8-ounce in any mix of colors, as well as your standard steelhead flies, will all produce Situk steelhead. 


DRIFT FISHING:  Use an 8- to 12-pound, medium-fast, 7- to 9-foot spinning rod with a matching 2500-3500 series reel spooled with 30-pound-test braided main line and 12- to 15-pound-test fluorocarbon leaders. Various colors of yarn, Glo-Bugs, beads, and flies, fished with pencil lead or split shot, work well.

steelhead fishingSPIN FISHING:  Select an 8- to 12-pound, 6 1/2 to 7-foot, medium-action rod with 2500-3500 series reel spooled with 30-pound-test braided mainline and 15- to 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leaders. Various spinners and spoons will work, but our favorite is the green and blue body #4 and #4.5 spinner from R&B Lure Company and the gold and silver Herzog Spoon from Pen-Tac Tackle or Cleardrift Fishing. Plugs are also an effective weapon to carry such as the 3.0 to 5.0 Mag-Lips, and similar sized Kwikfish and Wiggle Warts.

Take care to be mindful of other anglers and practice good steelhead fishing etiquette. Land fish gently, keep them in the water, wet your hands before handling, and snap a few quick pictures before letting the fish go. Use small hooks and rods that will allow you to land fish quickly so that they have the best chance to survive. Watch out for redds (spawning beds) and remember to leave those fish that are actively spawning alone. The Situk is one long spawning bed which is what makes it so special, and you will see fish spawning from the headwaters all the way down to tide water. Steelhead fishing on the Situk River is a truly one of a kind Alaska experience and with proper management and angler behavior, we will have a world-class steelhead fishery for many years to come.

steelhead fishing