Steelhead Flavor Profile

Steelhead Flavor Scale

Steelhead Salmon are a fabulous fish! They have orange flesh like Salmon, but the flavor is milder like a cross between salmon & trout.  The flesh has medium flakes and a tender texture. To me, wild Steelhead have a bit more “intense” salmon taste than farmed Steelhead.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

Alternate Names

Steelhead Trout, Steelhead Salmon, Sea-run Rainbow Trout.

Typical Wholesale Products

Whole, Dressed, H&G, Filets

Description Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Steelhead are a sea-going Rainbow Trout and have been recently reclassified from Steelhead Trout to Steelhead Salmon.  All Rainbow Trout are part of the Salmon family.  They have a shorter head than salmon, and have small spots on the head, back and tail.  Average weight is 8-11 Lbs, up to 40 Lbs. Follow the link for a video on how to identify species of salmon.

Steelhead Salmon

See image licensing info

Steelhead Trout Fillets jpg


Fresh Availability

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh.  Fresh wild Steelhead is seldom available due to concerns with its sustainability.  Fresh farmed Steelhead is available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec


Butchering Yield Percentage

Item To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets Notes
Whole Head/On gutted 66% – 70% 60%
Skin/On Fillets 85% If you have additional yield info on this fish please leave a comment below.
Yield % varies according to a number of factors including: size of fish, season, sex, and the skill of your fishmonger.


Steelhead native RangeAquaMaps     Data sources: GBIF

Range & Habitat

Steelhead are sea-going Rainbow Trout.  They inhabit various rivers along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California, and from Japan to the Kamchatkan Peninsula.  “Summer-run Steelhead” migrate between May and October.  “Winter-run Steelhead” migrate between November and April.


Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories/Calories from fat 237
* Protein grams  36
* Fat grams  9.3
* Saturated fat grams  2.7
>* Sodium milligrams  60
* Cholesterol milligrams  101
* Omega-3 grams 1.5


Sustainability Info

The sustainability of wild steelhead is a concern and Washington State has taken a very proactive stance on managing the fisheries so as to preserve this fish for future generations.  The Washington Department of Fish & Wild Life tracks and manages 133 separate stocks on Washington Steelhead from specific rivers and further classifies each one with the ESA (Federal) status.  As of December 2012 there are 83 stocks listed as “threatened” and 50 listed as “not warranted”.  This means that fish from the “not warranted” areas are considered sustainable and fishing is allowed within state regulated guidelines, while fish from the “threatened” areas are considered unsustainable and are therefore illegal to catch.

NOAA lists 15 general regions of steelhead from the West Coast: (1) Endangered, (10) Threatened, (1) Species of Concern, (3) Not Warranted or healthy.
Threatened: Puget Sound (T), Upper Columbia Rver (T), Middle Columbia River (T), Lower Columbia River (T), Upper Willamette River (T), Snake River (T), Northern CA (T), Central Coast CA (T), Central Valley CA (T), South-Central CA Coast (T)
Endangered: Southern CA Coast (E)
Healthy: Southwest WA (NW), Olympic Peninsula (NW), Klamath Mountains Province (NW)
– info updated July 2013

The Federal Endangered and Threatened Species List (2005) details eight (8) specific West Coast regions where Steelhead are considered either “endangered” (one listing) or “threatened”.  The info is near the bottom of the page.  There are other populations of Steelhead which can be fished and are not on the threatened or endangered list.  Here is the original filing with the Federal Registry which details stocks (sustainable and unsustainable) in 1996.  Wikipedia provides good info about the Endangered Species Act and its definitions.

Name Alternate Names Catch Method Catch
Oncorhynchus mykiss
Steelhead Trout, Steelhead Salmon Farmed – Land-locked Lake, Open-net Pen Flow-through Systems US Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Low
Canada n/a Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png
Farmed – Open-net Pen US, Canada n/a Red-Dot_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png
Wild n/a Red-Dot_20.png n/a
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.

Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended     Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative     Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended
August 2013

Ocean Wise specifically names Steelhead from Lois Lake in British Columbia as “Recommended/Best Choice”. By their standards all other farmed Steelhead are to be evaluated based upon impact on the environment. Seafood Watch and Sea Choice have not done an assessment of wild Steelhead and therefore have no rating.

Additional Resources:


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Suggested Reading