Elk Creek Steelhead Fishing

Elk Creek in Girard PA feeding into Lake Erie is the largest steelhead stream in Pennsylvania and is also the most popular steelhead stream in the State of Pennsylvania. This stream is a beautiful limestone stream that holds massive amounts of steelhead during the fall, winter, and spring months.

Steelhead in Elk Creek will begin to run from Lake Erie in the first weeks of October and a few begin to run earlier, but are often juvenile males called jakes or skippers. The biggest runs in Elk Creek begin around the end of October and continue all the way till the creek ices up in the winter months.

In the beginning of the steelhead season chomers will often chase larger streamers such as an egg sucking leech or bead head woolly buggers. My favorite colors on Elk Creek when fishing an egg sucking leech is chartreuse and black and when fishing a bead head I prefer olive and gold or black and gold bead. Fishing with streamers in Elk Creek can be very rewarding there's nothing like a steelhead attacking a fly on the swing. Often steelhead will hit a streamer at the end of a drift so a great thing to do is let your streamer hang at the end of the drift for a while.

Another very popular way to fish Elk Creek is the use of a strike indicator and double rigging sucker spawn flies. This method is especially effective when fish are targeting egg patterns, to rig up two flies you tie the first fly on with a trilene knot then get a two foot section of tippet (4lb to 8lb) and tie another trilene knot in the bend of hook on the first fly then attach the second fly to the end of the second piece of tippet. The real trick of this method is to achieve a true dead drift by adjusting your sinker and float up and down the line. What I have found is very affective at Elk Creek is to use the two fly method with a small float 7 to 9 feet up the line from the second float then a single 3/0 sinker right in the middle. This generally will get you a true dead drift.
There are a ton of locations to fish Elk Creek, but here's a general rule that will help you decide where to fish Elk Creek.

  • Early Fall = Mouth
  • Mid Season = Mouth to Middle
  • Winter and Spring = Upper Stretches

However here's a monkey wrench to throw into the mix in Elk Creek.

  • Rain = Steelhead and lots of them

Right after a good rain storm especially in the fall will bring in runs of steelhead to Elk Creek. Elk Creek generally clears up pretty quickly after a rain. If it's a big rain the stream will be fishable in one or two days following the rain. I prefer to fish the stream when it's a little off colored and will target the areas toward to the mouth to just above Rt 5 (Steelhead Alley) with larger streamers and pick up some real fresh silver steelhead. During the higher water periods there's a lot more water to fish and often fewer fishermen. Yes it's harder to locate pods of steelhead, but it's a lot more fun to be able to fish long stretches of water without the fear of spooking fish.