Steelhead vs Salmon [Major Differences and Similarities] (2024)

Steelhead and Salmon are two species of fish that are closely related. Both fish belong to the Salmonidae family, a group of anadromous fish that migrate from the ocean to freshwater streams and rivers to spawn. While they are similar in many ways, there are a few key differences between Steelhead and Salmon.

Steelhead vs Salmon [Major Differences and Similarities]

Following are the major differences between Steelheads And Salmon fishes:

Differences between Steelhead vs Salmon

First, steelheads are larger than Salmon. Steelhead can grow up to five feet long and can weigh up to 50 pounds. Salmon, on the other hand, are typically three feet long and can weigh up to 20 pounds.

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Second, Steelhead and Salmon have different body shapes. Steelheads are slimmer and more streamlined, while Salmon are more rounded and bulky. This is due to the fact that Steelhead spends more time in the ocean, while Salmon spend more time in freshwater.

Third, Steelhead and Salmon have different diets. Steelhead feeds mainly on crustaceans and small fish, while Salmon feed mainly on aquatic insects and small fish.

Salmon fish
Salmon fish

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Finally, Steelhead and Salmon have different spawning habits. Steelhead spawns in the spring and summer, while Salmon spawn in the fall and winter. Steelhead also spawns in larger groups than Salmon.

Similarities Between Steelhead And Salmon Fishes

Overall, Steelhead and Salmon are very similar in many ways, but there are some key differences between the two species. Steelheads are larger than Salmon, have different body shapes, have different diets, and have different spawning habits. It is important to understand these differences in order to properly identify and manage these species.

steelhead fish
steelhead fish

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Comparison Between Steelhead vs Salmon

Fish are a popular source of protein for many people, and two of the most popular types of fish are steelhead and salmon. Both are members of the same species, but there are a number of differences between them. Understanding these differences can help you decide which type of fish is best for your needs.


The most noticeable difference between steelhead and salmon is in their appearance. Steelhead has a more slender body shape than salmon, and they are often silver in color. Salmon, on the other hand, are typically darker in color, ranging from dark red to almost black. In addition, salmon have a more streamlined body shape, making them more suited for swimming quickly through the water.


Steelhead and salmon both live in freshwater, but they have different habitat preferences. Steelheads are most commonly found in large rivers and lakes, while salmon prefer to live in smaller streams and rivers. This is because steelhead is able to tolerate a wider range of temperatures and environments, while salmon are more sensitive to their surroundings.

Life Cycle

Steelhead and salmon have slightly different life cycles. Steelhead lives in freshwater for part of their lives and then migrate to the ocean for the remainder. This means that steelhead can live for up to seven years, while salmon typically live for only three to four years.


The diet of steelhead and salmon differs slightly. Steelheads are more omnivorous, feeding on a variety of small fish, insects, and crustaceans. Salmon, on the other hand, are primarily carnivores, feeding on smaller fish.


Steelhead and salmon also differ in their spawning habits. Steelhead spawns in the spring or summer in freshwater streams, while salmon spawn in the fall or winter in the ocean. The spawning behaviour of both fish is triggered by temperature and light changes.

Nutritional Value

Both steelhead and salmon are high-protein sources of food, but they contain different levels of fat and other nutrients. Steelhead is lower in fat than salmon, but they are also lower in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, on the other hand, is higher in fat and contains more omega-3 fatty acids, making it a healthier choice.


The taste of both steelhead and salmon also varies. Steelhead has a milder flavor than salmon, which is often described as being richer and more flavorful. However, the taste of both fish can vary depending on where they are caught and how they are prepared.

Are steelhead considered salmon?

Yes, steelhead are considered a type of salmon. They are an anadromous species, meaning they are born in freshwater, migrate to the ocean to feed, and then return to freshwater to spawn.

Is Costco steelhead salmon or trout?

Costco steelhead salmon is a type of trout.

Steelhead vs salmon taste

Salmon and Steelhead are both types of fish that have a similar taste. Salmon is slightly richer in flavor and has a slightly firmer texture than Steelhead. Steelhead, on the other hand, is milder in flavor and has a softer texture.

Both types of fish can be cooked in similar ways and are excellent sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals.

Steelhead vs salmon nutrition

Steelhead and salmon are both fatty fish that are high in protein, vitamin B, and omega-3 fatty acids. Steelhead generally contains more calories than salmon, with a higher fat content, but both types of fish are excellent sources of essential nutrients.

Salmon is slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids than steelhead, but the difference is not significant. The two types of fish are also similar in terms of minerals, with both providing iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Steelhead vs salmon health benefits

Both salmon and steelhead offer many health benefits. Salmon is considered to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health, brain development, and overall health. It is also an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, and B vitamins.

Steelhead is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, it is high in protein, vitamin B12, and selenium. Both fish are also good sources of minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc.

Steelhead trout vs salmon?

The most common difference between steelhead trout and salmon is that steelhead trout are anadromous, meaning they migrate from freshwater to saltwater and back, while salmon are not. Steelhead trout also have a more delicate flavor than salmon, and generally have a pale pinkish-white color.

Steelhead trout have thinner skin and tend to be more tender than salmon. Steelhead trout also tend to grow larger than salmon, with some fish reaching up to 50 pounds.

Steelhead fillet vs salmon

The main difference between steelhead fillet and salmon is their taste. Steelhead has a milder flavor than salmon, which is often described as being richer and more buttery. Additionally, steelhead has a higher fat content than salmon, making it a more fatty fish.

Steelhead also has a more delicate texture than salmon, which makes it a better choice for dishes that call for flaky fish.

Steelhead trout vs salmon sashimi

The two fish have very different flavor profiles. Salmon sashimi is milder and more delicate, with a subtle sweetness, while steelhead trout sashimi is richer and more full-flavored. The texture of the two fish also differ greatly. Salmon sashimi is soft and delicate, while steelhead trout sashimi is firmer and more resilient.

Steelhead trout vs salmon sushi

The taste of both fish is similar, but salmon is much richer in flavor than steelhead trout. Salmon sushi is more common and popular than steelhead trout sushi, due to the stronger flavor of the salmon. Many sushi chefs prefer to use salmon in sushi because the flavor of the fish stands out more than that of the steelhead trout.


In conclusion, steelhead and salmon are both members of the same species, but they have some distinct differences. Steelhead has a more slender body shape and is silver in color, while salmon has a darker color and a more streamlined body shape.

Steelhead also has a longer life cycle, a more omnivorous diet, and a milder taste than salmon. Additionally, steelhead is lower in fat, while salmon is higher in fat but contains more omega-3 fatty acids. Knowing the differences between steelhead and salmon can help you decide which type of fish is best for your needs.

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