Within the riffle, pool, run regime lies a host of additional steelhead waters which fish utilize as migrating and holding areas throughout different seasons, conditions, and water temperatures.
Once water temperatures become suitable for steelhead the window of opportunity opens and steelhead migration can occur at just about any time during autumn, winter, or spring.
Making the transition from its large lake hunting grounds back to its comparable smallish river of natal origins must be met with some uncertainty by steelhead.
The river environment with its myriad of shallow flats, riffles, and obstructions is quite unlike the deep-water sanctuary that lakes provide.
However, the urge to migrate and spawn appears stronger than a fish’s apprehensions so it proceeds upstream with both vigor and discretion. Those which the urge seems strongest in are willing to migrate during low flows under the cover of darkness, while those less willing seem to await the arrival of rainfall or snow melt (freshets) making for a more concealed migration.
Fish here tend to sporadically proceed upstream under the cloak of darkness during the early morning and evening periods. This scenario will become redundant as steelhead move upstream during periods of low light then hold throughout the majority of the day.
Typically, this also holds true for the upstream areas of larger flowing streams, as well until a freshet levels the playing field and allows for easier all-around access.
Therefore, in order to determine what physical areas of a river fish will utilize one must first assess the current river conditions. Once the general river and migratory assessment are made, then the entire watershed can be broken down into smaller increments conducive to steelhead utilization.
Understanding the basic areas of a river that steelhead will inhabit during the different phases of migration is a skill that can be easily learned in time without much hardship.
For the novice, books and periodicals provide a great general starting reference however, your real education will come when you combine armchair reading with on stream experience.
One of the quickest ways to identify potential holding water is to first eliminate all of the non-productive water that surrounds it.
Generally speaking, shallow water is of little value to a migrating steelhead already in a low-water...