Harvest by open lake boat anglers in Lake Erie

The good, the bad & the ugly steelhead season; by what criteria do we evaluate “the run”. Truth is we only have anecdotal evidence to support our claim. No studies, from what I see, have documented the numbers of steelhead running or angler success.

If you live outside the immediate Lake Erie area and make a single trip to fish for steelhead, a great year happens when you stumble into a pod of secluded, hungry steelhead.  You and your buddy enjoy 2-days of nonstop action. Great season! Same pair fail to find fish and return home grumbling about the failure of PFBC to stock enough smolts.

The steelhead run is actually a series of surges of fish entering the tributaries. We have all experienced a day when everyone is catching fish followed by a slow day that is hard to explain. Favorable weather and water levels in late October thru early December will usually bring fish in and up streams. How many is anyone’s guess. Where the steelhead are found once in the streams is also a guessing game.

The only research I found that provides a scientific peek at the number of fish harvested each year is open-water creel surveys of Lake Erie boaters.  The small sample size does little to define the overall catch, but it does offer a multiple year look at steelhead fishing.  You can review the data provided by the Lake Erie Cold Water Task Group.


While we may never fully understand our chances for success, you will find most of us standing streamside very soon.  “Hope springs eternal” - Alexander Pope poem An Essay on Man

Generally speaking if you fish Elk Creek from Girard to Lake Erie, you will have a good chance for success if the fish are there. You will have plenty of company for sure.

Want peace and quiet? Explore public water where most anglers don’t go. You may even catch a few fish or bump into a pod of steelhead that made it through the angler gauntlet.

Fishing nasty weather can be productive.  Once fish are in the streams, go if you can handle cold, wind, rain, snow, sleet, gloom of night – you get the picture. Most anglers opt to wait for better weather so you may have more elbow room.