When many Great Lakes area anglers think about rainbows, however, they're dreaming of steelhead, fish that are hatched (or stocked) in a river, migrate to out to the big water to mature, then return to their natal streams to reproduce. Although there is an open-water, off-shore fishery for steelhead in the summer in Lake Michigan, the bulk of anglers pursue them during their spawning runs, from the piers or in the streams. Steelhead begin filtering upstream in October and fishing for them continues through May, though between fish that have completed spawning (popularly called "drop-backs") but have yet to migrate back out into the big lake and a few summer-run fish, there are almost always some steelhead in the streams.
There are tribal commercial fisheries for steelhead in , the Washington coast and in the Columbia River, but there has been controversy regarding over-harvesting of native stocks.
The Rogue was down to 5,900 cfs at the Agness gauge on Sunday, down from 11,000 cfs at the beginning of the week. Few anglers have started to fish for steelhead, but the first fish of the season are expected any time.
“I remember finding dark masses of fish in the deep holes when I first began fishing for steelhead years ago," Bailes said. "The only way I could tell they were fish is when they would sway in the current.