Hover Fishing for Summer Steelhead

Written by Marlin Lefever of Addicted Fishing – the PNW’s best  online resource for all things fishing.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about steelhead fishing. Before we teach you the technique, we need to put some context around why we target these summer steelhead using this very fun setup. We’re in the Pacific Northwest where our summers are extremely mild and beautiful most of the time, but if a steelhead could talk, I think he may tell you otherwise! Steelhead don’t love the heat. As the heat rises through the summer and the rivers lose more and more water the steelhead are looking for cover, they’re looking for refuge, cool water, all the things Mr. Mykiss loves.

FUN FACT: A steelheads scientific name is Oncorhynchus mykiss

Now you may start to have a little context to why we hover fish them. The steelhead tend to stack up in these deep dark cold holes all summer long waiting for the fall rains and cooler temps. Now insert Mr. Fisherman, and his deadly steelhead fishing setup.
Hover fishing is done by slowly drifting with the river while the boat operator keeps the boat drifting, so the angler’s bait is suspended straight down under the boat. Now you see why it’s called Hover Fishing… “Now we wait for a bite!” Usually a subtle tap tap or pull of the line as the steelhead eats the shrimp. These are usually very subtle bites and requires constant attention from the angler. It’s a simple technique to learn, but very hard to get good at. Practice makes perfect!

The gear needed to fish this setup is as follows; A 7-8-foot medium action rod with a sensitive tip. This rod should be a baitcasting setup. We use 30 lb. braided main line with 12-15lb fluorocarbon leader. We then use a 2-3 oz canon ball lead tied as a 8-10” dropper. Your leader is roughly 18-20” to your 1/0 Mustad bait hook tied on using a bait loop. The bait loop knot is very important to helping your bait stay on the hook. Last but not least is your bait which can be either shrimp or eggs, both highly effective steelhead baits.

Now it’s time for you to get out to the river and catch some steelhead yourself! We hope you learned some tips and tricks to put more steelhead in your future!

Check out the official Addicted Fishing YouTube channel for more tips and tricks.

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