The best way to make the most of the coming steelhead season is to understand Lake Erie’s weather. Water/air temperatures and rain control when the annual steelhead run begins, progresses and eventually ends. These tabs will provide access to additional information to help with trip planning.
Expect the early season run in September to be “spotty”. Steelhead staging along the shoreline will venture into the tributaries beginning in late August. A few fish will be found in the sections of most tributaries close to the lake. Fishing after a good soaking rain will be good until the flow slows. Cloudy days and low-light times gives you a chance to hook-up with a few early run arrivals by fishing close to the lake. Besides that, September fishing is not worth your time.
Late September and then October mark the best times to fish for steelhead. When water levels are up and the air temperature remains moderate, fishing and the fall-color, catch ‘n release photos are what make great memories.
Keep in mind, while the fishing is excellent, the best fish catching days come in late October and most of November. If winter arrives late, Erie steelhead fishing remains good until the tributaries become “ice-locked”.
These four 2017 videos links provide a look at the type of fishing conditions you may face this fall. As you can see, early fishing is focused on the lake. Later in the fall upstream locations hold plenty of steelhead.
No two years are identical, but past experience has taught us several things.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission stocks about 1 million smolts each spring. Research tells us that about 5% survive 2 years in the lake and return to the tributary in which they were stocked.
Everyone should be watching the weather and keeping track of the USGS stream gauges.
In descending order the best stocked streams are Elk Creek, Walnut Creek, Trout Run, and Twenty Mile Creek.
Fishing pressure concentrates where the most steelhead are getting caught. Follow the crowd to find the fish and expect plenty of company. Once high water scatters the fish, it does the same with the anglers.
If this season is your first then, you should go as soon as the weather feels more like fall than summer, take your trout fishing equipment [wait until you know more before you upgrade to steelhead equipment], and ask questions of anyone who is willing to share information – most anglers do.
On future trips to Erie make your future trips 3 to 4 days in length and apply what you learned from your previous trips, and expect to catch fish!
To receive accurate, current fishing information sign-up to follow the Jack's York's Twitter account to receive fishing report update alerts. Another way to get information is to subscribe to Jack's YouTube account. You will then be notified when a new video is published.
Best steelhead baits are the standard list of fall favorite’s – sacs, tandem flies, minnows, woolly buggers, soft plastic jigs, single eggs, etc. Pick one that suits your fishing style and have fun.
The only variable for you to consider when planning a steelhead trip is weather and its impact on water flow. To that end, you need to look at the stream gauges when you plan a trip and keep a close watch on the weather forecast. Don't leave home without checking these gauges - Elk Creek - Walnut Creek.
Information on this Website is provided to help offer a general understanding of steelhead fishing. All stream references pertain to tributaries near Erie Pennsylvania, especially those on the west side of Erie.
If you visit this Website often during the steelhead fishing season, you will find videos and photos that offer an update of recent conditions.