What “stocking year-class” of steelhead smolts will form the majority of fish running this fall?
Here is what the professional biologists tell me.
Not all fish make the annual run into the tributaries, but the ones that will run this fall are in these categories. After 1-year in the lake the 2-3# 17” jacks stocked in 2016; larger mature 23”, 4-5# steelhead stocked in 2015; 26” 6-7# fish stocked in 2014; and 8-10# 28” fish stocked in the spring of 2013 will be entering tributaries this fall. You can check the total number of steelhead stocked in specific tributary for a given year by consulting this chart.
Not included above are 2017 stockings that take place after the spring stockings. Some missing 2017 information will be added at a later date. Special thank you to PA, NY, OH, MI Fishery Biologists for the information posted in this chart.
Research has revealed that 95% of the stocked smolts don’t live long enough to mature and run a tributary. Predatory ducks - birds - fish and other critters make a meal of that precious resource. Anglers who are spring steelhead fishing kill countless numbers too no matter how careful they remove the hook. Those are the facts.
Increased fishing pressure and the preference to catch and keep steelhead are impacting the annual run too.
The 5% of the stocked steelhead smolts that manage to mature will be your target this fall along with those trophy-class fish that are “return runners”!
Now you can run the numbers and form your own opinion for what to expect on your favorite tributary.
Finally, don’t get your Orvis waders in a knot when you see a “drag and brag” angler sliding a rope of fish across the parking lot. Erie’s steelhead program is a “put & take” fishery. Just let it go brother/sister. Life is too short.