For most of us the Spring is here or trying to get here and this is great news. Like everything else trout seem to awaken and start feeding and performing other functions vital to their existence. For rainbow trout, including steelhead, this means starting to make their way to spawning sites upstream or finishing the trek they started in the Fall or Winter.
Some of us that don't live on the West coast or in the Great Lakes region might not have access to actual steelhead but we do generally have access to lake-run rainbow trout. These are essentially copies of their ocean-going brothers, genetically there is no difference in most cases, and they can be almost as big and fun to catch.
Find a good rainbow trout lake with a decent tributary stream in your area and chances are that you can find running fish in March and April. Doing a little research and exploring can really pay off here. Check regulations to make sure that your lake's tributaries are open. Some streams are closed during the spawn.
When you find a good tributary it is often best to sight fish where possible. Sometimes these fish are spread out, but by careful observation you can often see them. When you find fish, depending on the lake they come from, they can be almost as big and bright as true steelhead so spotting them is easier than spotting smaller resident trout.
Use standard steelhead techniques and flies for these fish. Swing wet flies or streamers for the more aggressive fish or drift steelhead or other bright attractor nymphs for fish that are deep or not willing to chase streamers. Fish that have been in lakes are generally far less selective than resident fish that have developed feeding patterns specific to that stream so visible, strike inducing attractors are often more effective than hatch matching patterns on these particular fish.
Give steelhead or semi steelhead fishing a try this Spring for some large fish and wild fights. Hope to see you on the river.