DSC006541Steelhead Run 2018

The seasonal steelhead run total depends on 2 key variables.  First is the number of smolts stocked during the year-class that will have reached maturity during the 2018 season. Second is the estimated post-stocking smolt to adult survival rate [SAS].

After 2-years growth time in Lake Erie, the 2016 age-class will represent the majority of steelhead entering the tributaries this season. Research studies have determined the SAS to be 5%. 

Those are the hard facts for this season.

A more complicated and less accurate point is the addition to a run by jacks/skippers stocked as smolts in spring 2017.  You also get returning runners from the 2015 age-class that managed to survive angling pressure, return to the lake and run a second time.

The Great Lake Fishery Commission publishes annual reports that provide all the information you need to forecast the size of the 2018 steelhead run and what to expect on all Lake Erie tributaries.

The 2016 Cold Water Task Group Report tells us this . . .

All Lake Erie jurisdictions stocked Steelhead or lake-run Rainbow Trout (hereafter Steelhead) in 2016.  Based on these efforts, a total of 1,963,877 yearling Steelhead and 5,000 domestic strain Rainbow Trout were stocked in 2016, representing a 10% increase from 2015 and a 7% increase from the long-term (1990-2015) average.  Nearly all (99%) of the Steelhead stocked in Lake Erie originated from naturalized Great Lakes strains.  A Lake Erie strain accounted for 55% of the strain composition, followed by a Washington strain (20%), Manistee River strain, Ganaraska River strain (7%), Chamber’s Creek strain (7%) and less than 1% domestic and Skamania strains.   


State fisheries management agencies are responsible for 96% of all Steelhead Trout stocking effort in Lake Erie.  Approximately 4% of the Steelhead stocking is through sportsmen’s organizations in Pennsylvania (72,086 yearlings) and Ontario (80,000 fall fingerlings and 1,500 yearlings).  Fisheries agency stocking of spring yearlings took place between 22 February and 23 May, with smolts averaging about 174 mm in length