If I could use only one bait for spring steelhead, it would be, without question, a big, juicy nightcrawler.
‘Crawlers are the perfect choice this time of year. Think about it – the high flows of spring often wash a good smorgasboard of goodies (including worms) into the water, which steelhead, of course, key in on. Rivers also run pretty cold in the spring, so the fish will be more lethargic and a big meaty hunk of garden hackle is often the only thing that will get them excited. In addition, nightcrawlers also give you a nice “changeup” bait to use on streams that receive lots of angling pressure.