Wild and Wet Winter — California Steelhead

California steelhead

It’s Wednesday’s Wild and Wet Winter … a CalTrout, Keepemwet Fishing and Lost Coast Outfitters initiative celebrating California’s wild winter steelhead.

Catch and release angling is unquestionably one of the most effective conservation tools in protecting wild fish regardless of species. Over the last few weeks we’ve posted links to a few scientific studies that indicate keeping fish wet and eliminating air exposure helps minimize both fish mortality and potential sub-lethal effects including spawning effectiveness.

For those of you interested in taking your catch and release practices to the next level, here are Keepemwet Fishing’s recommended practices:


There are a couple of practices that are particularly relevant when fishing for wild winter steelhead.

swing California steelhead

• Reduce Angling Duration: Play fish quickly without playing it to exhaustion. You’ll be in a better position to achieve that by matching your tackle to the targeted species. A single-handed 8-weight or a double-handed 7-weight would be a good place to start. These rods will give you better leverage especially when matched with at least 12 pound tippet although 15 or even 20 pound is preferable.

Coastal California steelhead

• Fish Barbless Hooks: They cause less damage, are easier to remove, and minimize handling time. Of course, we all fish barbless hooks, but every now and then we get caught up in the excitement and forget to pinch down a barb.

Keepemwet steelhead

• Photograph Wet Fish: Ideally you keep the fish fully submerged. If not, keep it partially submerged or as close to the water as possible. Fully submerge a fish between pictures. Make the entire process short, and release the fish quickly.


CalTrout: to learn more about California winter run steelhead

Keepemwet Fishing: to learn more about Keepemwet priniciples

Lost Coast Outfitters: blog on many things fly fishing related