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The Top 10 Steelhead Rivers on the West Coast

British Columbia is often considered a mecca of steelhead angling. (Photo courtesy of In-Fisherman.com)
British Columbia is often considered a mecca of steelhead angling. (Photo courtesy of In-Fisherman.com)

With the Pacific Ocean as their home, here are the best rivers for steelhead runs on the west coast

They come in from the Pacific – the most expansive aquatic environment on earth. They find ribbons of water that cut canyons through mountains. They stage and acclimate to the fresh melt of snow and glaciers. Sea lice still clinging to their sides, they run into those confined environments and swim uphill.

Into forests, deserts and mountains they come. Under dripping redwoods, they mill in green pools. They hide in the shadow of glaciers. They slip through arid high country. Some traverse a thousand miles of river before their tour of duty ends.

Anadromous rainbow trout, better known as steelhead, are sleek and powerful – beautiful and fascinating. Built to shed current and cover water, gleaming across the miles in their silver chain mail, steelhead tell a spectacular story about life on earth.

Steelhead are native to watersheds that empty into the Pacific Ocean. Their native range includes Russia, and was extended over 120 years ago to include the Great Lakes. From there they entered the St. Lawrence Seaway, and now inhabit a few streams that empty into the Atlantic. But the Pacific is their true home, and the region that put steelhead on the map is North America’s West Coast.

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