The smolts go downstream, spend 3 years at sea (except Jacks, which spend 2), then 89% of the survivors head back to the river system they came from. The average is 11% escapement, meaning that they go to a different river system than the one they were from. One of the more interesting myths is that they always go to the particular stream they started from. They usually try for good water, wherever it is in the river system they came from. Steelhead, unlike Coho and Chinook, will often take risks on worse water quality. One time I was working in a small northern california town and the creek was heavily polluted by the upstream farms. Despite being green with algae almost from the top of the watershed to the shasta river, there was one spot in town where there was clean gravel and that year 3 steelhead tried to make redds there. Tenacious..Don’t know now, but when I worked for NMFS, the record for a fish returning to spawn was 7 times for a tagged steelhead. Troutlike salmonids don’t undergo the changes that Chinook, Coho, Sockey, Pink, and Chum salmon undergo when they return, and so the troutlike ones can return multiple times.