Steelhead School Presents
Fall steelhead in Erie's Tribs
Don Dfishinfool Mathews
Septembers cool rains start to trigger the
biological clocks of the thousands of steelhead
stacked up at the mouths of our rivers. When water
temperature drops and the river levels rise, these
waiting fish come in in waves." The Mutts Come Home"
Steelhead fresh from Lake Erie have a major attitude
and often push both angler and equipment to the max.
Thanks to the wise people at the New York and
Pennsylvania fish and game commission's for creating
this fall steelhead fishery. They have undertaken a breeding
program for these fall run fish. They start by selective egg
gathering from fall run Lake Erie fish. They collect
the eggs from adult fish that have migrated up a Nursery
water stream. In effect they
have created their own strain of steelhead. Being
opportunistic feeders these fish are becoming very
well adapted to the Lake Erie ecosystem and is vast
array of forage fish. We have come to know these
fish fondly as "Pennsylvania Mutts". Return rates of these
hardy fish have been almost unbelievable. They are
considered by many to be the ultimate steelhead.
They run in the fall and winter in the river.
Offering many days of fishing opportunity.
steelhead stocking efforts have concentrated on the
Manistee strain fish from Michigan. These big hard
fighting fish run in the spring. The exception is
Conneaut Creek in far eastern Ohio. The upper
sections of the Connie are in Pennsylvania. It is
a long river and I have caught fish over 60 miles from
the lake. This unique stream gets stocked by both
Ohio and Pennsylvania. So it receives equal numbers of
Fall and Spring run fish. It is a terrific fishery from
September thru May.
Steelhead tend to be much more active in the warm
fall water and this is when we get most of our big
number days. They also respond very well to the fly
rod and you might even persuade one to take a dry.
Brilliant fall landscapes and clean air can
invigorate the soul. This time of year I often
prefer to walk a lot, always seeking new fish in the
next lie. It's a great time of year to learn the
rivers. Without heavy clothing or numb fingers, its
also a great time of year to learn to fly-fish.
This is a true world class fishery and the secret is
out. Crowds are common during the pleasant weather
of our fall months. Fish are concentrated and it is
often hard to find solitude. For those willing to
share the moment with others the rewards can be
fantastic. In the fall months I prefer to get a very
early start and want to be standing on the river at
Pennsylvania's tributaries are often plagued with
low water conditions during the fall months. This is
when its time to load up and head east to Western
NY's Cattaraugus creek. It is located one hour east
of Erie Pa. It has some breathtaking scenery and is
home to the highest cliffs on Steelhead alley. It is
big water and many find it intimidating. I love to
fish it because it is relatively un-crowded and
offers lots of opportunity to spey fish as well as
swing sink tips. The fish are big and mean and the
battles are long. You will see your backing on the
In the fall you will need to dress in light layers
that can be shed as the temperature rises. A
pack able rain Jacket may be necessary. Long walks
are common so it is best to be able shed some
clothes while walking. Breathable waders are the
perfect choice for fall fishing on steelhead alley.
Stream bottoms are slick from algae. I suggest
felt or studded soles on your boots.
As with all of
our guide trips everything will be
provided for you. You will use a high quality rod
and reel. I am an Orvis Pro Guide. I
use their rods as well as rods by Scott. I use custom 13'6"
float rods built by master rod maker John DiMartino
for the Centerpin enthusiast. You have the option of
Spey, Traditional fly, Centerpin float , or Spin
fishing. I will provide you with hand
knotted fluorocarbon leaders and tippets and hand
tied flies of my own patterns. If you prefer to bait
fish I will have perfectly cured king Salmon eggs
and fresh hand tied spawn sacks from local steelhead
hens. I will also provide minnows and various other
I will provide you with instruction on reading the
water, casting, knot tying, and fly selection. I
will serve you a streamside lunch and provide hot
and cold beverages.
I work hard to assure that you will be fishing the
best available water that steelhead alley has to
offer the day of your trip. This makes it hard to
forecast in advance exactly what stream we will be
fishing. I will call you two days before your trip
and set up a meeting place and time. As I will know
by then where we will be fishing.
Some people call and want to fish a certain stream
on their trip. I will do this but they must
understand the steelhead is a migratory fish that
enters and leaves the streams in surges or runs.
These runs are dependent on water levels, fish
species , temperatures and a host of other reasons.
By selecting from all the streams of steelhead alley
I am assured to be able to put you in front of a
good number of fish and teach you how to catch them.
With this knowledge you will be able to catch fish
on any of the streams of steelhead alley.
am so sure of my ability to put you into fish that I
offer the " you catch fish or you fish free policy"
on all of my trips.
Lets Go Fishin..!!