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Lake Erie Steelhead Early Arrival

Fishing in and around the Great Lakes region including all tributaries and adjoining states.

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Lake Erie Steelhead Early Arrival

Postby JackSprat » Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:15 am

Here is an early arrival on August, 25th:


In a few weeks, we will shift from summer to fall, but that does not mark the beginning of the Steelhead run. No, that takes place when the water flow and temperatures are right, and we are a long way from that point.

Before entering the streams to spawn, Steelhead slowly migrate from Lake Erie’s cold deep waters to staging areas near the mouths of tributaries that empty into the lake; and the timing of this step largely depends on water temperature. Because the places I fish are along the southern shore, a stiff north wind for an extended period of time will push schools of trout close to shore, but they seldom stay in the shallows for long if the water is too warm.

Charter boats will focus on Steelhead as the summer walleye and perch bite starts to wane. When you see boats trolling close to shore in September, the Steelhead are getting close, and you can expect some sporadic catches at night and early morning at the stream mouths.

When I was younger, I pulled many an “all-nighter” on the pier. Were those trips productive? Not really, but they sure made waiting for the fall run a lot easier.

I was in Erie last weekend for a scheduled walleye trip with Something Catchy Charters. Captain Brian Mills did a great job; and even though we fished on the backside of a late summer cold front, we caught walleye. The man hates to get “skunked.”

As that cold front passed through, it dropped day and nighttime temperatures by nearly 20 degrees. The accompanying northwest wind was followed the next day by a stiff north breeze, and those winds churned the lake.

During the weekend, you could feel “fall” bumping up against “summer” and trying to take over. It didn’t last for long, and within a few days the air temperature was back into the mid 80’s.

While I was at the Walnut Creek Marina waiting for my trip to “troll up” a few walleyes, I noticed a guy fishing at the head of the channel leading from the marina to the lake. He hooked a fish and my attention, so I grabbed the camera and walked over.

From 50 yards away, I could tell from the way the fish fought he had hooked a Steelhead. His long rod was doubled over and every time he gained some line; the fish would make a quick run and force him to drop his rod tip toward the fish to give line, and avoid losing the battle. You could tell the guy had done this before, and that the fish was as good as caught.

Dan McClain, a local angler from Mill Creek, was nice enough to let me get some pictures before releasing the fish.

You can view the story and a video of the catch at http://www.storytrax.com/node/958

I also did a story on the walleye trip too: http://www.storytrax.com/node/955

From this point on, September rains in Erie will get plenty of attention from anglers, especially if the air temperature falls into the 50’s. When this happens, the Steelhead will draw closer to shore and may even make a few “false” runs upstream and then back out to the lake.

Anglers tossing lures, Little Cleo’s and KO Wobblers, will spend several hours each morning at the stream mouths, and they will catch fish.
Image Image

At this time of the year, PowerBait is a good choice if you like to “bottom” fish from a comfortable “bag chair.” This type of fishing gets a bad rap because the anglers look lazy next to the “spin and grin” crowd, but if the action is slow and your cooler full of food and beverages, PB on the bottom is a perfect fit. Sometimes you need to kick back and let the fish come to you.

I know very little about fly fishing for Steelhead, but it seems to me that until the fish enter the streams, you will be better off with spinning gear, heavy metal, and bait or bait -like presentations.

For me, fishing a jig and maggot under a float in the early season, never works well. Later in the fall when the water gets colder, I may exclusively fish that presentation, but not in September or early October.

Finally, early in the season I fish salmon egg sacs with floaters on the bottom. The eggs are tied in pink colored material with chartreuse floaters.
I use a number 10 or 12 hook, a 12” of fluorocarbon leader, small swivel, and sliding egg sinker on my main line; and I am ready for action. Bag chair and loaded cooler are optional!
A 63-Year old who was down-sized into early retirement and is making the most of each day.
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:21 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Postby RudyGomez » Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:47 am

Great post!

Thank you!!!
Rudy Gomez
CyberAngler Webmaster
User avatar
How about cuttin’ some bait?
How about cuttin’ some bait?
Posts: 1434
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2003 10:08 pm
Location: North Miami Beach, FL

Postby JackSprat » Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:58 am

RudyGomez wrote:Great post!

Thank you!!!

I appreciate the comment Rudy. Have a great day.
A 63-Year old who was down-sized into early retirement and is making the most of each day.
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:21 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

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