Winter is a great time for steelhead trout fishing, especially in states like Idaho where trout fishing holes are popular and plentiful. While it may seem unappealing, avid anglers know the chances of catching these fish increase during colder months. Techniques for winter fishing may differ slightly depending on the angler and location, but most are just as effective with anyone anywhere. Bundle up and get ready to learn some successful steelhead trout fishing techniques for winter if you love fishing in Idaho.

Tried and Tested Bait

Using live or preserved bait is one effective technique. Steelhead trout love minnows, shrimp, pink worms, nightcrawlers, roe, and prawns. During winter, live bait is most effective since steelheads are less likely to give chase in colder water. Use an appropriate bait and set the hook up 18 to 24 inches from it. This distance between the two gives steelhead ample time to bite. Skilled experts at a bait shop or on an organized fishing trip can help you set your hook and bait successfully if you’ve never used this technique.

Time of Day

Like many animals and some humans, steelhead trout are less active in winter. However, this lack of activity doesn’t mean you’ll never catch one. Fish during the warmest parts of the day for the best chances of success. Steelheads tend to be more active when the water temperature is slightly warmer. Mid-morning to late afternoon is often best.

Slow and Steady Retrieve

While the live bait and slightly warmer afternoon water make catching steelhead trout easier, they’re still sluggish in cold winter water. You will need to fish slower to accommodate. A slower retrieve allows the bait to stay in one place longer, increasing your chances of a successful catch. Use this technique while drifting or jigging in deeper holes and bends. Jigging and drifting slowly will complement the colder temperature, giving the fish enough time to bite.

Choose the Right Gear

Most of our steelhead trout fishing techniques for winter focus on the fish, but you also need to focus on yourself. Fishing in colder temperatures requires proper gear, such as warm and waterproof clothing. Choose a rod that can handle larger steelhead trout. A seven- to eight-weight rod with a floating line is ideal, along with a 10-12 lb. fluorocarbon leader for stealth and toughness. Having the right gear ensures comfort in colder temperatures and improves your chances of a successful catch. We provide rod, tackle, and bait on our fishing trips, so you can try winter steelhead trout fishing without buying new gear.

Fishing during winter is challenging yet rewarding, especially when you’re fishing for steelhead trout. Join River Adventures for steelhead fishing in Idaho and journey along the Salmon River to catch fish with the experts this winter. Anglers of all levels are welcome!