Steelhead spawn in streams from mid-April to late June. They use areas of gravel or small cobble depending on the size of the fish. Often the best spawning areas are in pool tail-outs. When a female finds a suitable place to spawn, she displaces the gravel with her body and tail, and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are deposited.
The eggs hatch in early to midsummer. The young fish live in the stream and then migrate to the ocean, usually after two years of rearing in the stream. The juvenile fish will grow rapidly after they reach the ocean. When they mature and are ready to spawn, steelhead migrate back to the place they were born. They enter the lower river drainages in the fall and winter-over to spawn the following spring, which allows a fall and spring fishing season to occur. Most wild steelhead take 4 to 6 years to mature.