Lake Erie steelhead fishing is one of the best fisheries in the world, with large runs of steelhead from late September till around the end of May in the larger streams. Streams like Elk Creek in Girrard Pennsylvania offer some fantastic fishing with lots of unspoiled nature; Elk Creek gets one of the largest runs of steelhead and also sees one of the largest runs of fishermen. Fly fishermen on Elk Creek doing well fishing with streams swinging them in the tailouts and heads of holes. Also when the pressure is on at Elk Creek changing to sucker spawn, crystal meth, or nymphs can be the ticket fished under a strike indicator.
If your not a fly fishermen you can do extremely well fishing with bait such as skein, egg sacs and minnows fished under a float. Also spinning fishermen do well on mini foo jigs tipped with maggots under a float on Elk Creek.
Then there's Walnut Creek in Erie PA which is the second largest creek in Pennsylvania, and is often referred to as The Nut and is a great place for easy access to the stream, but with this easy access comes large crowds. However, you will have a much higher hookup percentage at Walnut creek due to the amount of fish that stack up in the stream. This stream is unbelievable at times with the amount of steelhead that lie in the holes. Generally fishing on Walnut is best done with a a strike indicator and small flies like sucker spawn, crystal meth, and nymphs. If your a bait fishermen best bets are skein, egg sacs, single eggs, maggots, and minnows.
In New York lies one of my favorite rivers of all time this of course being the Cattaraugus. This relationship I have with the Catt is a love / hate relationship. The Cattaraugus River is one of the most beautiful steelhead streams with large cliff walls, long deep holes, wooded banks, and gravel filled tailouts I've ever had the pleasure to fish. But this river is extremely sensitive to rain and will turn brown with one rain storm and stay brown for over a week. The Catt runs through farm fields and is filled with muddy banks which causes the river to run with a chalked tint much of the time. Clear water at the Catt isn't something that happens all the time nor is it necessary to fish. In this river large streamers and big weights fill my fly box when I hit Cattaraugus River, it's deep, dark and big so it's essential to cover a lot of water. Good fly choices at the Catt are Egg Sucking Leeches, Bead Head Buggers, Spey Flies, white streamers, black woolly buggers. When the water does clear up fishing with larger sucker spawn files and nymphs work great under a float. Bait fishermen do really, really well at the Catt when the fish are targeting eggs. Good choices of bait include skein, egg sacs, and shiners fished under a larger Drennon style float.
Steelhead Streams of Lake Erie
- Cattaraugus Creek - The biggest of them all and runs through the waters of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians where you need a separate license to fish.¬† The Catt is an awesome steelhead river but if it rains hard you‚Äôll want to find another stream to fish due to high water that plagues the Catt
- Elk Creek - The largest steelhead stream in Pennsylvania in which steelhead will run all the way to the I-79 highway where the stream crosses.¬† The best times to fish Elk Creek are in the fall and in February and March.
- Walnut Creek - aka The Nut in Pennsylvania sees some of the biggest crowds, however Walnut Creek has easy access at the Marina Parking lot.¬† In Walnut Creek it's all about finding a spot in or around a hole such as the Manchester Hole or The Chutes.
- 20 Mile - The largest stream on the East Side of Pennsylvania and has a great parking lot with easy access to the mouth and the stream.¬† Often when the streams on the west side such as Elk Creek and Walnut are muddy this stream will be fishable. The streams on the east side of Erie clear up first after a big rain.
- Chautauqua Creek - Located in New York Chautauqua Creek offers some great steelhead fishing. The easiest place to access Chautauqua Creek is at Route 5 and fishing the waters from the Route 5 Bridge to the mouth.
- Canadaway Creek - Is a small stream that gets a nice run of steelhead and is often a good choice when the big streams are running brown with mud. Canadaway Creek is located on Route 5 and has a small parking area at the bridge.
- Chagrin River - Located in Ohio the Chagrin gets a great run of steelhead and is a great place to go steelhead fishing. Located right outside of Cleveland and you can Fish from the soccer fields to N Chagrin Reservation.
- Grand River Ohio - The Grand River is located in Lake and Ashtabula Counties and most of the fishing is done in Lake County. There are several places to access the creek including Helen Hazen Wyman Park, Mason‚Äôs Landing, and Indian Point Park.