OUTDOOR COLUMN: It’s steelhead time on Lake Erie tributaries

Credit: Pete Zimowsky

Credit: Pete Zimowsky

We’re lucky to be in a state where you can fish year-round.

If you study the species you are fishing for – their habitat, their feeding times, what they’re eating and what time of year it is – you can catch fish.

A great destination right now is Lake Erie. Fishing remains good for walleye, perch, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass. With the 90-day outlook for temperatures to be above normal in this party of the country, Lake Erie could be good until the end of the year.

This time of year also starts the annual run of migratory rainbow trout – steelhead – in the tributaries of Lake Erie. This is world class steelhead fishing and people come from around the world.

I recently caught up with Curtis Wagner, fisheries biologist for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, to talk all things steelhead.

Early in the fall (through October), anglers can have great fishing from any of the numerous lake shore access points (piers, break walls, etc.)

The major Lake Erie tributaries of special relevance to steelhead anglers for shoreline fishing opportunities are in the counties of Ashtabula, Lake, Cuyahoga and Lorain in the Ashtabula/Conneaut, Grand, Chagrin, Cuyahoga, Rocky and Vermillion rivers.

Much of the public access on the steelhead rivers is owned and maintained by the county park systems. Check out websites for Ashtabula Metro Parks, Lake Metro Parks and Cleveland Metro Parks for complete public access information.

Steelhead are straying in moderate numbers into the ever-improving Cuyahoga River. The national park provides substantial access for the Cuyahoga. As fall moves into winter and earl spring, most anglers focus their efforts further upriver in the Lake Erie tributaries, leaning heavily on the various metro park accesses.

Spoons and spinner baits are great early fall lake shore presentations. In the rivers, spin-cast anglers use various small jigs tipped with a waxworm or maggot under a float. Fly anglers go toward presentations that mimic fish eggs (often referred to as spawn bags).

Water clarity is important. Ideally, you want 8 to 12 inches of visibility so the steelhead can see the presentation. More visibility can create an environment where the fish spook easily by seeing anglers on shore.

Dove update

Migrating birds are starting to move through the area thanks to cooler than normal temperatures. Now is the time for the run and gun method of dove hunting. It’s also a good time to walk up a few with a bird dog.

Waterfowl season is coming soon and so is our preview.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors.

Contact Jerry at jkoutdoorconnection@yahoo.com

About the Author