Late Run Spring Steelhead

Posted by Rick Denham on 4/2/2014 to How to articles

Late Run Spring Steelhead

Spring is finally here and that means one of my favorite fisheries is getting underway: b-run of steelhead in Washington. Just about every year, March and April can provide some fantastic fishing opportunities for those willing to put in the time and deal with the conditions. For a few rivers, the b-run of fish are not only bigger but the numbers can be very good as well. Higher water conditions can be a common occurrence this time of the year with lingering winter storms and run off. Many may shy away from these conditions, but I love fishing in them. I found some very good success last year during this time frame changing some of my tactics slightly to accommodate for the water conditions and river locations. Higher water means that the fish will be in closer to the bank on the seam edges; especially in the bigger rivers. This provides the bank angler an opportunity to take full advantage. Last season I hooked 9 fish in two days using the riggings I will be describing, but more importantly those fish were 10ft off the bank running the soft seam. 

As many know, the line of XFactor baits fish fantastic on their own as a single bait. But I have found that combining multiple baits together can help add color contrast and help produce more strikes. Take a look at how great the mini egg clusters and single eggs pair together. Lots of contrast and you can use any color combo of yarn and egg that you can imagine. The XFactor “egg-sandwich” gets the job done. This rig had 6 hook ups when no one else had a bite on one outing last year. I foresee this rig not only doing well on the steelhead this spring, but the silvers this next fall as well.


Another productive rig is on the far left of the picture above. This rig consists of 2 XFactor single eggs above a couple pieces of yarn. I came up with this rig over the summer when I was looking to create a natural egg presentation but allow for a slightly larger profile. Many steelhead and salmon fell to this rig during the summer and fall and it will be in my arsenal for the b-run season. I call this the double trouble rig. These baits and rigs have so much versatility and the fish love them. You can even swap out one of the single eggs for a small corky like I did for a couple egg-sandwiches. All of the rigs fish well with many different techniques, but I will break down my primary two for this time of year.


Being successful at finding fish in the late spring, especially from the bank, has to deal with a few different factors. Ability to read water, find travel lanes, and fish the appropriate lure size for that water condition. In high water you will find the travel lanes 5-15 feet from the bank in most cases. I would start my focus in this area first and cover the water as you move through the run. I found two very effective techniques for myself in these travel lanes: Drift fishing and Bobber Dogging. One partly to the fact you can cover a ton of water, and secondly these techniques are easy to fish and do not require fancy gear. On my drift rigs, whether the egg-sandwich or double trouble, I am running 4-5ft leaders under normal conditions. During the b-run, water conditions can be high but the clarity on a few rivers stays relatively clear. I usually stick with the 4 foot margin and adjust per clarity of the water.

I have been hearing reports over the last week that the fish are finally starting to show, and the beauty of the spring is that we will start to see some springers in the mix as well. There is nothing better than bringing home a few steelhead and a springer for the barbeque! I know I will be hitting the water in hope for a mixed bag!

The spring fishery is a great one, with lots of fun to be had with good friends. Take to heart the tips I broke down and you will find your spring steelhead season a successful one.

Take care and God Bless,

Pro Staff

Rick Denham

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