Serving  all of "Steelhead Alley" in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York     Turkey Creek Oh, Conneaut Creek Oh, Grand River Oh, Chagrin River Oh,  Rocky River Oh,  Vermillion River Oh,  Twenty mile Creek Pa,  16 mile Creek Pa,  12 Mile Creek Pa,  7 Miile Creek  Pa,  Walnut Creek Pa,  Elk Creek Pa,  Crooked Creek Pa,  Racoon Creek Pa,   Cattaraugus Creek NY,   Zoar Valley south branch,  Clear Creek NY,   Canadaway Creek NY,  Silver Creek NY,  Chataqua Creek NY,                      WE GO WHERE THE FISH ARE....................... 

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We know most people are smart enough to spot a fake or a liar.  Before you book a trip with any Steelhead Alley Guide ask them how many years they have been fishing Ohio. If they are honest you might be surprised by the answer. Anybody can be a internet hero and since you don't need a license to guide Ohio.  Out of state guides are flocking to the area to make a quick buck. Our team of guides have been fishing Ohio and the rest of Steelhead alley our whole lives.  We want lifelong customers. We strive to exceed our guests expectations.  My guarantee is simple. If your not 100% satisfied with anything we do contact me.  If I can't make it right. I will give you a full refund. No questions asked.

webmaster and founder of

Don Mathews


The original

"Steelhead School" 

 Since 2001

March 27, 28, and 29th  2009

Often imitated but never duplicated.  We have over 150 satisfied Graduates thru the years. It is a three day adventure into the world of fishing Steelhead Alley.  Our team of local steelhead pro's teach you everything you need to know to be a successful steelhead angler. It also includes a nine hour tour of the hot spots on the streams. We will cover, When to fish where, knots, rigging terminal tackle, leader construction, fly selection, reading water, fighting fish,  spin, fly, spey and cenerpinn techniques plus thee hours of hands on fly tying.  All you will need are an Ohio fishing license and a pair of chest high waders. . The weekend is value priced at $350 per angler and included in the price is two nights lodging



Bill Rusinko at Realistics Taxidermy is the only one I will trust with my trophy fish,  He lives in Michigan's UP and he is an expert at correctly painting our great lakes species.


This link takes you to Greg Lum's blog.  Greg is a good friend of mine and an expert with the center pin.  He is on the river almost every day and his reports are funny but accurate.


John Nagy has updated his great book on Lake Erie Steelhead fishing.


We are proud members of the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Their website lists local attractions, the areas fine wineries, hotels and other information on the area.


Our Team of Guides have the required permits to Guide on Lorain County Metro-Parks property. Lorain County is host to some beautiful well appointed parks.



We trust quality RedWing floats and terminal tackle on our guided trips

Here is a great link from Redwing Tackle on rigging up your Spin or Pin outfit


DeFranks Fles will tie your custom flies.  From Trout to Tarpon their the place to call.


If your ever fishing in central Kentucky look up are friends at Cumberland Drifters for a great float trip is a great website with lots of good information. Especially for the Center Pin fisherman




A neat new concept in floats. 



Area Fishing Clubs

Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders

Pennsylvania Steelhead Association

3 c u Trout Association

North West Pa Trout Unlimited

SONS of Lake Erie Club (save our native species)

Neshannock Trout Unlimited

Emerald Necklace Trout unlimited Cleveland OHF

Firelands Fly Fishers

North Branch Boys Fly Fishing Club Toledo Oh

North Coast Fly Fishers

Tri County Trout Club


Other Great Clubs

Buckeye United Fly Fishermen

Derby City Fly Fishers

Northern Kentucky Fly Fishers

Bluegrass Trout Unlimited

Louisville Trout Unlimited


Steelhead Fishing Reports

From "Steelhead Alley"

Hi I'm Don Mathews welcome to our Steelhead Alley reports page.

No B.S. Ohio fishing reports and Pennsylvania fishing reports compliments of licensed professional Steelhead fishing guide, Don Mathews and the team of guides at

12-30-08   What a day for late December.  With the water on the drop we fished an un-stocked Ohio trib today. No huge numbers but a good day on the stream with some nice fish brought to the net. I fished with George today and he was a pleasure to fish with. It never got much above freezing  but the water temp was 36* so line icing wasn't too big of a problem.  Travis fished with a couple of buddies and they did well, making easy double digits.  Dick was out too but I never did hear how they finished up.  Stream was crowded today.  I think a lot of people are off work for the holiday.  Now for the bad news.  They are calling for a high of 29* tomorrow and 4 inches of snow.  It might be slush city in the morning. I decided to cancel my trip for tomorrow. The slush is s a tough call after all the water is 36*.  Either way sounds like the roads will be bad, so be careful if you venture out.  Forget about the Grand and Vermillion, there still too high.   Conneaut, Chagrin, Rocky, and all of the PA tribs will be at a good level to fish. Will they be slushy?  Wish I had a crystal ball.  Guess I'll just have to go anyhow. Good Fishin..!!  Don

What a wacky weather week..!!  On Monday morning when I woke up they were calling for 45* on Tuesday with 42* and mostly sunny on Wednesday. I sent out some e-mails and booked trips for Tuesday and Wednesday.  By 4:00 Monday afternoon they had changed the forecast to a high of 29* with a  snow storm on Wednesday.  That's Ohio for you.

12-27-08  Ohio Steelhead Fishing Report 10:38 AM      We were without a guide trip today.  So we headed out in different directions.  I headed west and got chased off the water this morning when the stream became un-fishable at 9:00.  I choose a small Ohio feeder stream and the water was on the rise big time.  Managed two on bait before it became unfishable.  Talked to Clyde at Folly's End Fly shop and just as I expected Elk Creek is blown out today as well. I just got off the phone with Greg L and he is fishing a little larger un-stocked East Side Ohio stream this morning.  He landed four on bait with the Center Pinn and he's still out. He said the water is on the rise and visibility is less than a foot. So conditions are less than prime.  Travis hasn't checked in yet but I'm sure he will not have any good news for the short term either. All of the streams will be un-fishable by this afternoon and it isn't looking good for tomorrow. I rescheduled my trip.  Weather is shaping up for next week and we have guides available every day.  Lets Go Fishin..!! Don

I'm going to be talking Steelhead With Dan Armitage on his "Buckeye Sportsman" radio show, this Saturday Morning.  Our local station is AM 570.  To see what radio station it plays on in your area Click Here

12-26-08 Steven shows off a big Elk Creek Pa steelhead

12-26-08   Steelhead Fishing report   Fished Elk creek Pennsylvania with Bob and sons, Mike and Steven.  We found the creek in near perfect water conditions today.  A little bit of rod icing in the morning but no slush or side ice and about 30 inches of visibility. It was Mike and Stevens first day of fly fishing and they both caught fish.  Crowds were surprisingly light today.  We had our best success with Chartreuse Glo Spawn but we mixed it up changing flies often.   We had hoped to fish Ohio today but the streams were still too high.  Before daylight this morning I looked at several Skinny water locations and Conneaut Creek,  and they were all too high to fly fish.  Greg was out with his center-pin and he did well on a couple of Skinny water streams in Ohio with bait. We didn't get much rain today and my guess is that Pa and the smaller Ohio streams will fish tomorrow. Forget about the Grand and Conneaut and the -V- tomorrow.  Chagrin and Rocky are questionable.  Watch the weather and stream flows.  We will be out tomorrow and I'll post a report when we get off the water.  Good Fishin..!! Don

12-26-08  Mike left the warmth of Los Angeles California for the cold of Pennsylvania. Here he shows off a fat Elk Creek hen caught on the fly.

Check this out  I have assembled all of my past reports from 2001 until present on one easy page OldReportArchives  Its a hoot going thru the old reports and pictures.  There is a wealth of info to be had.  890 pictures and over 50 individual web pages.  So go ahead and take a blast thru the past on steelhead alley.  I am also adding past steelheading articles I have had published. 


12-26-08  One for the smoker

12-25-08  Today is truly a day to give thanks.  Myself, my wife Erma and daughter Ashley would like to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS and Thank You for your continued support. .  I'll spend the day with family today.  Most of the streams will be too high to fish for the next couple of days.  Real skinny water should fish Friday but with more rain in the forecast things could change quickly. I haven't been out for a few days. Travis said you could walk across lower Conneaut on Tuesday. Upper Grand near my house is roaring.  At least a week away before she will fish. At least the high water will wash out all of the ice and prolong the season.  If streams come down to a fishable level the fishing should be great.  God Bless..!!  Don

12-26-08  First Cast

12-23-08  It's been bitter cold here in North Eastern Ohio.  Wind Chill was -25 on Sunday night and it was 4* last night.  I haven't been out fishing since Saturday.  The USGS flow gauges are froze up and shouldn't be trusted.  The streams have ice along the sides and slushing.  Trout is out today but I haven't talked to him to see how they are doing.  Just talked to Uncle Goober and the Chagrin has some open water but much of it is frozen over.  It is supposed to warm up and the weekend may fish great if the rain doesn't blow the streams out.  Its a tough call right now.  Some high water would be nice because it will get rid of the side ice.  There are good numbers of fish in all of the streams it just a mater of getting to them. I'll post more when I know more. We have guides available every day.  So if your into some winter steelheading give me a call.  Merry Christmas..!! Don


Trout battled the cold and slush for this winter steelhead

12-19-08 Steelhead Alley fishing Report  At 4:00 a.m. I walked out on the back deck.  It was about 30* on the thermometer and it hadn't rained a drop. I went back to bed with a sense of relief. We were worried that rain would flood the streams out in the morning.  We knew they would more than likely blow out later in the day but we had done so well yesterday we had high hopes for the morning.  I warned my guests that it was going to rain all day and the streams would probably blow out in the afternoon. They had winter steelhead fished on the Salmon River and they assured me they were up to the conditions. 

12-19-08 Here is Lee and myself are with his big Ohio Steelhead

It's getting daylight now and I'm crawling my way twords the lake.  Every mile closer I get the more snow that is on the road.  A honest 5-6 inches had already fell in places and to make maters worse it was a wet slushy icey snow that was making the roads terrible.  My high expectations were crushed when I finally see the stream. Slush city huge snow slush bergs coming down the river making it unfishable. So I limp back to Burger King where the guys are having breakfast.  When I deliver the bad news the guys aren't shaken they still want to fish.  I didn't want to waste their valuable stream time standing in the slush.  That would be foolish and a rookie guide move today.  Knowing the Grand at 900CFM and 33.6* will not be slushy we head over to fish her high. We found the stream completely slush free and we didn't even get icing on our rod tips.  There was one other guy in the parking lot and he didn't stay long. So we had the place to ourselves.  There wasn't even prints in the snow as we walked downstream. We had perfect conditions to put on some big buggers and have a blast. I'm kicking myself n the ass for not hooking up the drift bat this morning.


12-19-08  Ken gets it started with this Grand River Manistee hen

It doesn't take but a couple of minutes before Ken is hooked up. We end up having a great day on the stream and everybody catches fish.  Lee catches a impressive buck (a personal best) that he decides to get mounted.  It was a beautiful full color male that was 28 inchs long but weighed an impressive 10 lbs 5 oz.  I carefully packed it up so master taxidermist Bill Rusinko can work his art on him.   It didn't take long to figure out wooley buggers and Crystal minnows were hot.  Never got any on nymphs in the stained water but we did hit a couple on Chartreuse Glo Spawns.  My guests had a long drive and were concerned about the weather, so they called it a day early.  With perfect stream conditions and no one around I grabbed my spey rod and hit the water for about an hour.  I tied on a big chartreuse bunny zonker and ran one of my handmade 15' T-11 tungsten tips in the strong flow.   I found a good pod and had eight on the swing before I called it a day. I had one huge male that went 32" but  unfortunately the camera batteries were dead from the busy last couple of days. I kneeled there looking at the fish reflecting on the moment and thinking about the spot I was fishing and the memories made there.  Like time stood still " The Rock" remained unchanged since the first time I saw it over thirty years ago.  What a day on LaCherage.  Feeders to the Grand are blowing chocolate milk and I doubt that she will fish tomorrow.  Looks like we hit that rare window of opportunity today.

12-19-08 These guys laugh at brutal winter conditions

I didn't hear from Travis AKA Trout all day and he wasn't at the Grand So I figured he found somewhere to fish.  He opted to rough it out on the very slushy Conneaut. Water temp there was 32.7* and he reports you could fish around the slush some what.  He started on Skinny water but found it unfishable.  He reports it took awhile but it eventually Conneaut burned off in the afternoon. He only had one guest today and they ended up double digits in the net for their efforts today. He said Connie was a little lower today than it was yesterday They left at 4:00 this afternoon and the stream was perfect but that's going to change tonight.  He agreed with me that it will probably blow out by morning.  There is still 3-6 inches of frozen ice snow on the ground in most places in NE Ohio.  Talked to Greg L AKA Uncle Goober in the afternoon and he reports that the rocky and Chagrin were flowing dirty so they will probably blow out as well.  With the forecasted low temps for early next week it ain't lookin good. We will be on the stream tomorrow ditch jumping and I'll post a report when we get in.  Good Fishin..!!  Don

12-19-08  A hard earned winter steelhead from Conneaut Creek Ohio caught fishin with Trout

Guide Jeff Novak Helped Caylee land this Ohio Steelhead on her first day of fly fishing..  Awesome job guys..!!!

The Quang Brothers are excellent fly fishers and Jeff showed them where to find these big Ohio steelhead

You can tell by the flash that it didn't take long for Jeff to put the above two fish in his net on a un-stocked Ohio stream.

12-18-08 Ohio and Pennsylvania steelhead fishing report   My guest from Indiana decided to cancel today because of the forecasted low temps. I can't say that I blame him.  It's been cold..!!  So I finally got a day to just go fishin..!!  I met up with Trout this morning and we headed to the stream.  It turned out to be much warmer than forecasted.  We had no problems with slush, side ice or rod icing today. Our plan was to do some scouting, covering as many spots as possible.  First stop was Conneaut in Ohio.  We were pleasantly surprised to find her a tad high but very fishable.   We didn't even wet a line we got back in the truck and headed for Elk Creek.  First stop was the very upper river. Bingo fish on.  We stayed at hat access for only 35 minutes but it was long enough to land three of the four we had on. Not wanting to spend to much time in one spot we loaded up and headed to the middle river.  Bingo again..!!  This time we stayed about a hour and a half and we landed seven more before loading up again.  Next access was another middle river spot but we didn't even drive down the hill because the road was a sheet of ice. So we scratched that stop.  Next we stopped at Follies End Fly Shop and spent a little while shooting the breeze with Jim and as pleasant as his company was we were out fishin today. So we loaded back up and headed to upper Conneaut on the Pa side.  After securing permission from the landowner we hit the water. BUT we were more than surprised to find upper Connie flowing high and much dirtier than the lower river. We didn't waste much time a this stop. Greg L calls just about then.  He is just getting on the water on the upper Chagrin.  He reports the stream is in nice shape and the crowds are very slim. Same goes for Elk Creek.  Not many people out fishing today. Feeling it was too late to drive to the Chagrin we decide to hit lower Conneaut in Ohio.  Bingo..!!  We found the river in nice shape and full of chromers. We ended up having some reel screaming fights before we had to call it a day.  All in all a terrific day of winter steelheading on the alley. They are calling for freezing rain and snow tonight and tomorrow. It may flood them out again for this weekend.  Its a tough call.  I'm guiding tomorrow and I'll post a report when I get in..  Good Fishin..!!  Don

Travis put Mike and Jordan on a winter Steelhead alley double header

 We have decided to do some trips for Summer Run Skamania steelhead in Late August and Early September.  We will be headquartered in Niles Michigan about 30 minutes north of South Bend.  The fish run huge and 12-15 lb class fish are common. They fight like bulls on steroids.  We can Spin or Fly fish and most trips will use the drift boat. We are putting together a two day package that includes streamside lodging in one of our 10 by 20 wall tents. There are also several nice hotels nearby for the less adventurous.

This Spring we will be offering fly fishing trips for Striper-White Bass Hybrids known as Whippers  in a local tail water.   The action is unbelievable and they can get to 10 lbs. The fish are savage and attack flies like a pack of Piranhas.  Give me or Travis a call for more info.

Plus don't forget the terrific summer hatches in Pennsylvania..!!

Lets Go Fishin..!! 

12-18-08 Trout shows off a fat Conneaut Creek Ohio steelhead caught fly fishing

12-17-08  Steelhead Alley fishing report    Trout spent the last two days ditch hopping on Ohio Skinny water and he has been hitting a few.  He got a hog yesterday in a ditch just feet from the lake. I'll put up a pic as soon as he sends it to me.  Trout reports some of the smallest of tribs have received a huge run of fish, but the word is out.  One very tiny trib had thirty cars in the parking lot today. Almost everybody there were locals. Word travels fast.  Most of the larger streams were to high the last couple of days.  Chagrin and Rocky will fish tomorrow but Grand and Conneaut are still to high.  The Pa streams all should fish tomorrow as well.  Forecasted high is 32* so fishing may be tough.  More rain-snow is forecasted for Thursday night.  Hard to tell what the weekend will bring.  We have guides available every day if your up to the cold.   We will be out on the water tomorrow and I'll post a report when I get in.  Good Fishin..!!  Don

12 -16-08  Travis with a big Ohio Skinny water steelie

12-14-08  Mike shows off a Ohio Steelhead Guide Jeff Novak put him on

12-14-08  Ohio Steelhead Fishing Report   The temperature rose all night long and it was a nice morning.  I had Doug and his son Josh up from Knox County for their first steelheading experience. With the larger streams still too high we opted to fish a small un-stocked Ohio stream.  We started early so we would be sure to slip into Trout's new found honey hole from yesterday. Our plan was to start with spinning gear and have a fly casting lesson in the afternoon.  It didn't take two minutes for Doug to get into his first steelhead.  It took Josh a few minutes longer than dad but his first steelie was a 27" fat chrome Manistee hen. Jeff was about a mile down stream from us with a 13 yr old girl and her father who is a veteran steelheader and graduate of our Steelhead School. He though hiring a guide would be the way to introduce his daughter to the sport of fly fishing.  I called Jeff at 9:00 and they had both already landed a couple.  I saw her casting near the end of the day and she could show up quite a few of my guests with her newly learned casting abilities. Greg L also was working the same area of river with us. He was hitting them with the Center-pinn as well.  Heck everybody I saw was catching fish today. We had a great morning and everybody caught multiple fish. No huge numbers but man did we get some bruisers today.  We got one big male that had to go 12 lbs.  Flies and eggs both produced well.  I brought shinners and couldn't buy a fish on them. Go figure? Now for the bad news. It rained all afternoon.  Stream was still in good shape when we left but the water falls were pouring chocolate.  Dick and myself opted to re-schedule our Monday trips.  I'll post a report tomorrow. I have a bunch of recent pictures from Travis, Jeff and Dick to sort thru and I'll get some of them put up here soon.  Good Luck..!! Don

12-14-08 Josh with his first steelhead

12-14-08  Hows that for a Bruiser Ohio Steelhead

12-14-08  Doug with a thick Ohio buck steelhead

12-14-08  Jeff at the net with first time fly fisher

No were not night fishing here.  Guide Jeff Novak netted this fish early in the day

This nice Ohio Steelhead came just after Dads fish above

12-13-08  Steelhead Alley Fishing Report  Today was one of those days you wish you would have never got out of bed.  We had nine guests from the Bluegrass Trout Unlimited club in Kentucky up for their annual steelhead trip. This is their fourth or fifth club outing with us.  Almost every time they come up we are faced with terrible weather conditions. Spring or Fall it doesn't mater.  If there coming look for a blizzard to blow in when they arrive. This trip was no different. Luckily they knew what to expect and were well prepared for the weather.  The past two days they braved the elements and pounded the fish in Pa.  BUT today we wanted to show them some buckeye steelheading. So we headed to a small un-stocked Ohio stream to start the day.  All of them are experienced fly fishers and we don't even bring the spinning gear. With nine anglers on such a small stream we opted to get there very early to get everybody into good spots.  It was bitter cold this morning, much colder than they were calling for.  We arrived to a river full of slush.  The guys were troopers and gave it 100% but it was just plain unfishable. At 10:30 the air temp was 19* and the stream was at 31.5* with slush on top and on the bottom of the stream. Travis had a couple of bait fishermen out upstream from us and they were the only ones to actually land a fish all morning. So we headed back to the Days Inn for the warmth while we ate our lunch. While the guys ate I worked the cell phone desperately looking for somewhere to fish.  Greg L  was out on Conneaut and he  reported decent visibility and no slush but too much flow even for his center-pinn. Clyde over at Follies end saved the day!!   He gave me a 12:00 report that the slush was burning off the Elk and she was starting to fish. So we loaded up and headed east. The move paid off and we found a slush free stream full of hungry fish and unbelievably light crowds. The menu was #14 Golden Nuggets and #14 Yellow Sally's.  The fish ignored the eggs and streamers we tried. Everybody landed multiple fish and we stayed on the water until dark.  Travis might have been the smartest one of the group.  He stuck it out in Ohio and the slush finally burned off about 2:30.  That was all the window he needed. They ended up putting an amazing 20-25 fish in the net before dark..!!!!!  Tomorrow should be a much better day. Some of the larger streams will fish and I don't think slush will be a problem, but this is Ohio.  Good Fishin..!!  Don

12-13-08  Anna with a huge Elk Creek warrior

12-12-08   Steelhead Fishing Report  High water has most steelheaders frustrated.  All of the larger streams are too high to fish.  Some of the smaller streams in Pa and Ohio are starting to fish. Walnut and Elk Creek in Pa fished very good today. Crowds were slim for Pennsylvania and slush wasn't a problem until afternoon. Most of the fish are holdovers that have been there awhile.  Some of the hens are loose and dropping eggs.  Travis fished Ohio today and ended up putting four in the net despite the high water.  He jumped around on grand River tribs and other skinny water and reports that even the skinny water was dirty though not all that high. Cold temps tonight could lead to slushing in the morning.  It's snowing pretty hard here now. Watch the weather its a tough call.  Good Fishin..!!  Don

12-13-08 Elk Creek Pa steelhead on the fly

12-11-08  Gotta keep it short tonight cause I'm tired and hungry..LOL...  Most streams on Steelhead Alley are still very high and unfishable.  The smallest of streams are fishing very- very good.  There was a lot of fish in twelve and sixteen mile streams in Pa today BUT everything else was still high.  Skinny water will be best bet for tomorrow but its going to be cold and snowing. They backed off the forecast and now they are calling for 1-3 inches and 30* tomorrow. Be careful on the roads.  I'm predicting a great weekend with warm temps and dropping water.  I have guides available all weekend.  If you can go on such short notice drop me a line and we will hook you up. Good Fishin..!!  Don

12-13-08 True winter steelheading paid off today

12-10-08  Streams are at flood level today.  This is bad for the short term but good for the long term.  Its warm outside 50* and there isn't much snow.  water temps will spike up 3 or 4 degrees from the steady 33* they have been at. This will make the fish active and it should bring more in.  The streams are very high and there is  lot of water on the ground.  It will be a few days but they should start to fish by Saturday or Sunday. The problem is they are calling for  cold front Friday with 4-6 inches of Lake effect snow  and a high of only 23*.  This could bring back the slush if night-time lows get into the teens.  I'll be out Friday and I'll post a report.  Only sure thing is there's fish in the creek and its cold outside. True winter steelheading at its best.

Match the hatch A Emerald Shiner next to my Olive Crystal Minnow

12-09-08   Got a little break in the weather today.  I hooked up with Travis and we headed out to Conneaut to do some scouting.  Dick was fishing today with John, so we hit the same general area to start.  We were surprised to find no cars in the parking lot and no tracks in the snow.  River was a nice color and flow with no slush.  There is some side ice in areas but it didn't make fishing difficult.  We did break the ice in a few areas to make landing the fish easier.  We did well and got some nice fish.  Did try bait and flies but the fish definitely seemed to want the flies.  They wanted it small so we used #14 Steelhead Candy and #14 orange sucker spawn.  Travis had a huge one on for 25 minutes.  We chased it downstream about 1/4 mile.  Since we were scouting we didn't have a net.  Side ice prevented us from beaching it so I tried to tail the beast.  I couldn't get my hand around the huge tail and she rolled on the line and busted off. I would guess her at about 15 lbs. Travis just laughed it off but I felt terrible. It rained all day and we were sitting in Beef and Beer with Dick and John having lunch by noon. They had double digit hookups as well. After lunch we headed to upper river and it was a bit stronger flow from the rain but still very fishable.  Talked to a fellow that fished Elk this morning and he said it was very slushy with ice covering most of the holes. Greg said Chagrin didn't look bad .  Grand was still just a tad high for me today But this rain is going to change all of that, I think. I'm betting things are going to blowout tomorrow.  Good Fishin..!! Don

12-09-08 I found this winter steelhead in Conneaut today

12-08-08  Didn't fish today because of severe slushing of the streams. Things are going to start to freeze if it doesn't warm up soon.  Greg said even the Rocky was slushy tonight. Only game in town in the warm water discharges in the Lake.  The shad are in thick and fishing can be awesome if everything comes together.  When fishing the Lake shore fishing is usually best on south winds when they are pumping hot water.  Talked to Travis and I figured he would finally have taken a day off from the fishing.  Believe it r not he caught a couple of walleye today in a local stream. He's a fishing fanatic and I'm glad he's part of our team now..  Good Luck..!!  Don

12-07-08   Travis AKA Trout  had a die hard steelheader named Chris out in Ohio yesterday. Man it was cold and slushy but they braved the elements and prevailed.  Chris ended up putting 4 or 5 nice fish in the net with the fly rod.  I know how tough it can be fishing in those conditions ( I cancelled my trip ) but Trout tells me that Chris is a true fishing nut and he never complained all day. When I talked to Trout last night he said the slush isn't going to get better anytime soon. Looks like it will be Tuesday before we see any temps above freezing.  I'll keep you posted.  Good Fishin..!!  Don

12-06-08  Chris with a hard earned Ohio winter steelhead

Just wanted to send you and email and say thanks for the first rate service.  Travis was an AWESOME guide.  I'm sure you know but the weather was a bit cold yesterday and the water was a little slushy, but none the less Travis put me on fish!!!!!! We ended up landing four in the net, and given the conditions I couldn't ask for more.  Travis took one particular picture, it was a close up and you can see the water freezing on the fish, so it looks like it has an ice beard.  Travis thought you would like to see it and since it was on my camera I'm attaching it to this email.  All in all I had a great time and an experience I won't every forget.  I'm hoping to talk some of my friends from back home (Texas) into join me for the spring run.  Take care and I hope to fish with your outfit again reel soon.

O Chris Blau

12-06-08  Ice beard steelie  Notice the slush in background

12-06-08  Quick update on Steelhead Alley River Conditions  I cancelled my trips fri-sun due to cold temps. Probably could have fished but when it's this cold we always give our guest the option of cancelling or rescheduling. My wife was happy and I ended up putting up the Christmas lights. Back to the fishing.  Greg just called me and repots the Rocky is slushy.  He fished the Lake front this morning and got a few. Grand is flooded and Conneaut is also slushy.  Travis fished yesterday and ended up with eight.  Not bad considering the temperatures he was fly fishing in. Believe it or not he's  out there somewhere today. Oh to be 24 again.. Since I haven't heard from him yet he apparently found somewhere to fish.  It's snowing hard here now  so things are only going to get worse. I wouldn't waste your time tomorrow (Sun) as I'm sure the streams will be slushy.  I'll keep you posted.  To all those who e-mailed me about shows THANK YOU..!!  Good Fishin..!!  Don

 Jerry and Sons pictured above caught these brute winter Steelhead with Travis

I want you to
know that we really enjoyed the fishing trip last weekend.  It was an awesome experience and you are a great fisherman.  Thank you so much for
spending so much time with Adam, especially at the end.  You and your friends
are such wonderful people.  I was totally impressed by the comraderie of the
Steelhead fishing group.  Adam spent all day Sunday tying egg sacks.  His plan
is to go fishing again next Sunday but the forecast is cold and windy.  I don't think
it will happen.

Thanks again for a wonderful trip.  Adam said it was the best fishing day of his

Mike Novelli

12-03-08  We cancelled our trips the past two days due to high water. Water finally came down to a fishable level today.  Dick and Travis were out in Ohio today. Both reported a decent day on the water with double digit hookups on the fly.  They fished skinny water and the flow was up a bit but the water color was good. A nice sunny day on the Alley and there was no slush in the streams with very light angling pressure. Egg patterns (sucker spawn)  was the hot fly today.  Dick reports that Conneaut was still too high today but it should fish tomorrow. Same goes for the Rocky and Chagrin both will probably fish tomorrow although they are still on the high side. Forget the Grand for awhile.  I'm chomping at the bit to float her as soon as she comes down. I spent two hours tonight chopping ice out of my drift boat with an axe..!!  I forgot to pull the plugs last time I had her out. The water got about two feet high in the bottom before it froze. I got her in the garage now thawing what I couldn't chop out. They are calling for a 17* low Thursday night with a high of 24* on Friday.  Slush may be a problem on Friday.  I'll post a report when I get in tomorrow night.  We have guides available every day for the rest of the Winter.  If you can go on short notice, watch the weather and my reports. Then give me a call when conditions are right.  I'm confident we can put you on the fish.  I guarantee it..!! Good Fishin..!! Don

12-03-08 Snow Covered steelhead

What's new at Dfishinfool's Guide Service??  Fly's Fly's and more Fly's. I just got a shipment of 265 dozen  from our new supplier in Maine.  They are bad ass flies.  Some of the most well tied flies I have ever saw.  We sent them some of our most complex patterns.  They copied our ties exactly. Heck their flies were better than the originals that I tied ..LOL..!! After a month of using the USA made flies we haven't had a single hook break and the fish love them.  Watch the fly shop as I add some of these new patterns during the next couple of weeks.  I'm also going to rethink the deadly dozen.   We also have added a new local fly tier to our list of suppliers.  She is going to be helping out with some of our egg patterns for now.  Made in the USA flies cost more but I am going to hold the price at $15 a dozen.  We now have about 10,000 flies in stock.  So getting an order out in time for Christmas shouldn't be a problem

12-03-08 Steelheading in Ohio

Don,  Just wanted to drop you a line and thank you.  I ordered a ready to go fly box, leaders, and indicators from your web site. You might remember me.  I'm the guy that never landed a steelhead in three trips to Elk creek.  Last week my luck changed thanks to your flies. I took my two sons up to Elk creek.  We had close to fifty fish on and landed about half of them. We were the envy of everyone around us. We had fish on every one of your flies but the minnow is deadly.  We were the only ones catching fish in the mouth everybody else was tail hooking them. My sons had a blast but we used almost all of the flies.  Could you please send me three of your $50 fly boxes plus three doz olive crystal minnows.  I also need three bags of the 5/8 indicators and three bags of leaders (9). I put the check in today's mail.  Could you please try to have it here before x-mas as they will be gifts.  Again thank you.   Rick Sutton

 12-03-08 Siler winter hen on a sunny winter day

would like to thank the Good Folks at Redwing Tackle in Ajax, Ontario for adding us to their Guide program. We are huge fans of their fine line of floats and custom Steelhead spin fishing tackle. Especially the Phantom line of floats.  Now if we could just stop decorating the streamside trees with them.  Grinning..!

What a nice fish..!!

We use Scott Fly Rods.  Ask me why?  They are the best rods money can buy in my book. They cast like a dream, are made in the USA, and can take the daily abuse the Alley puts on a rod without breaking. For your streamside enjoyment we just ordered five of the new 10' seven weight A-3's to add to our rod arsenal.

Was it worth the cold fingers?  You bet it was..!!

January and February find us froze out from the streams most years.  I have been busy scheduling sport shows for those months.  If anybody out there knows of any good sport-fishing shows in your area drop me a line.  We still have several open weekends I would like to fill these weekends with shows.  Not so much the big mega shows.  Were looking for the smaller shows located in Oh, Pa,  WV, KY, and Ind.  We feel the smaller shows are more personal. While I'm asking for cyber-help.  Do you know a individual  who would make a exceptional guide?? Are you that person?  Were looking for some help during the busier times. If you think you got what it takes to guide with us give me a call and lets talk.  The fishing business has been great.!  It was one of our busiest Novembers ever..   In closing I have many exciting plans for the coming year.  Watch us grow..!!  Good Fishin..!!  Don

What a beautifully colored buck Steelhead in Ohio

11-30-08  I headed west to the -V- this morning.  I haven't fished her much this fall but I heard a rumor about a fresh run of fish. After a very long hike in the dark (Sorry Rich) We found the stream to have a nice flow but visibility could have been a little better.  Crowds were slim to none so we moved around a lot. Greg L also started on the -V- this morning.  Jeff and Kurt headed out to the east side.  Sorry but I can't mention stream name they fished for obvious reasons  but let me tell you there are a bunch of fish to be had on some sections of the streams.  Jeff and Kurt smoked them today.  He called me at 8:30 and already had each landed double digits on the fly.  We didn't hit big numbers out west but there are fish in the -V- now.  At this point of the game there are fishable numbers in all of the lake Erie tribs.  Best bet is to chase the green water.  It is a light rain here now but they are calling for more tonight.  So far the streams haven't blown out but only time will tell. I'll post a stream report tomorrow when I get off the water.  PLEASE use caution in the woods this week.  Both Ohio and Pennsylvania deer gun season opens tomorrow.  If your going into areas where there is a chance of encountering hunters wear some blaze orange. Be safe and have fun..!!  Good Fishin..!!  Don

11-29-08 Adam shows off a nice Ohio steelhead trout

11-29-08  I took my guests this morning back to the same area of stream, I fished yesterday. Ohio skinny water. Travis had three guests and he started about a half mile below us. The stream had cleared up nicely and water color and flow were perfect.  We crushed them the first few hours.  Easy double digit hookups by 9:00 AM. Fish were all chromers and full of fight.  We had lots of long line releases.  Trout's group did good below us too. Beautiful sunny day on the alley and when the sun got directly overhead it seemed to slow things down a bit. Crowded day on the stream but we still had no problems getting into good spots to fish.  Conneaut looked good today.  Water visibility was over 2 feet but the flow was still a little to high for me.  Everything but the Grand will fish tomorrow.  Snowmelt may have the flows up a bit yet but they will fish.  Were going to canvas a bunch of streams tomorrow and I'll post an update tomorrow night.  Good Fishin..!!

I got an e-mail last week asking what is Skinny water?

Skinny water is a generic term we use to describe small un-stocked streams.  There are dozens of these small streams that flow into Lake Erie.  Such small streams are very sensitive to angling pressure.  This is the reason we never mention the names of the smaller streams here.  Please keep in mind that these very small streams often clear much faster than the larger streams.

11-29-08  Mike with a nice fish on his first day steelhead fishing

11-28-08  I hope everybody enjoyed their Thanksgiving and got to spend the day with family yesterday.  Both Jeff and myself took our guests to Ohio this morning.  We found even the skinny water a bit high but fishable with 24 inches of visibility.  The day started off slow and to make it worse it was crowded.  We ended up moving around a lot but it paid off and we found some nice chromers. Oddly enough the fish wanted flies instead of bait.  We did our best with electric glo spawn and woolly buggers.  Most of the streams were still to high today but the Chagrin, Conneaut, Rocky and Vermillion should fish tomorrow. Flows may still be a bit on the high side though.  Grand is still to high and will not fish this weekend. Haven't been to Pa in awhile but I would guess all the streams over there will also fish tomorrow. Good Luck..!!  Don

11-28-08 Dave with a huge Ohio steelhead caught on the fly..!!

11-27-08  Happy Thanksgiving.  I'm not fishing today but Greg L just called me from the stream.  He is out with his center pinn using bait and he is catching them but the water is still high on all of the East side streams. Good Luck..!!  Don

11-25-06  Steelhead Fishing Report   We received quite a bit of rain yesterday and it brought the streams up to unfishable levels this morning  Dicks guests all caught fish yesterday but overall it was a tough day with slush in the stream most of the day.  The sudden drop in stream temp has definitely slowed the bite down.  Now we are faced with high water for the next couple of days plus they are calling for cold temps and snow.  A warming trend is predicted to start Thursday this will add runoff from snow melt.  Its a tough call what will fish this weekend.  Watch those flow gauges and the weather. Happy Thanksgiving..!!Good Luck..!! Don

11-28-08  Larry with a fat Ohio Chromer

11-28-08  John with a Ohio Manistee strain fish

11-23-08  Steelhead Alley fishing Report   Slush, slush, and more slush.  I was standing in the Grand River at 5:45 this morning.  Flow was high (1200 cfm)  but there wasn't any slush.  So off I went to meet my guests with high hopes of another great day of steelheading. I figured there would be a little slush on the smaller streams, but with a high of 38* it wouldn't last long.  To make a very long story short, everything but the Grand was slushy most of the day.  We did alot of driving trying to find open water that was at a good fishable level.  Conneaut, Chagrin, Rocky, and the skinny water were all very slushy  Even the lower Grand had some slush.  To make things worse it was crowded.  Seems like everybody saw the predicted 38* temp.   Bad thing was, our thermometer never went above 23* until after lunch. OOPs seems like the weather man missed his mark today..  Good thing was,  I had a couple of die hards who never complained all day. Finally a little sun and luck shinned down on us and we hit some fish in the afternoon.  No big numbers but seven or eight nice Manistee's in the net.   Dicks guests hit them once the slush burned off too.  So the day was saved and our guests were rewarded for their persistence in the cold..

11-23-08  Justin with a nice chrome winter steelie.. Nice hat..

GO BUCKEYES..!!  Sorry about your luck Michigan..

The fish are there folks.  It's just a matter of getting to them now. We have more rain on the way tomorrow and it's anybodies guess what this will do to the streams.  If we get enough warm rain to melt the snow its going to be a big blowout.  If the rain isn't too strong and the snow refreezes each night for a slow melt. The fishing will be good.  I'm off tomorrow but Dick will be out.  I'll post a report when I hear how they do.   Watch the weather.  Winter steelheading is here.  Good Fishin..!!  Don


Check this fish out.  Greg Lum got it last week on the Connie.  Notice the healed over lamprey sore and its unique spotting.  A nice but odd fish. For those of you who don't remember Greg from his steelheading 101 website years ago he is a fishing machine.  He is the master of the centerpin. He puts in more time on the water than anybody I know.   On occasion I talk him into helping me out on a guide trip or two. He has a great blog and if your a steelheader you should check t out if you haven't already.


DeFrank’s Flies Master Tier and Owner Mark DeFrank recently took third place out of 360+ entries in the Fly Tyer Magazine 30th-Anniversary Fly-Tying Championships. 

 Congratulations Dfishinfool's Guide Service Guide and fly innovator  Mark DeFrank.  Third place out of 360 ain't bad considering this is a tough contest judged by the crowd..!!!

The Championships were conducted with the cooperation of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum. For this contest, each tier was required to submit two flies: one mandatory pattern and one “tiebreaker” fly of the tiers choice. The selection of mandatory flies included the Royal Wulff, Hair-Wing Blue Doctor, and Flashtail Whistler.  The tiebreaker could be an established pattern or an original fly. The only real rule is that the tiebreaker fly must be a pattern that would be used for actual fishing. For his mandatory fly Mark tied the Royal Wulff and his Wiggle Hex was submitted as the tiebreaker.
A panel of judges, chosen by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, selected the top 20 mandatory flies. The top 20 tiers, which included Mark, then progressed to step two: the judging of the tiebreaking flies. The 20 top tiebreaking patterns were mounted and on display during the 2008 Fly Fishing Hall of Fame festivities at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center the weekend of October 18, 2008. The visitors to the festivities, which included some of the biggest names in fly fishing and tying, casted their votes for the winning tiebreaking flies


11-23-08  Justin with a fat Pa. hen that lost her way and ended up in Ohio. She was ready to spawn.

11-23-08  Jeff (Dad)  with a hard earned COLD weather steelhead

Guess Dicks Guys did alright despite the weather.  I received this kind e-mail today. Oh yea Peter pics are on the way THNX.  Don

Dear Don,
I was fishing with Pete Tonetti and Tom Nilsen on the CENSORED with Dick last Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21-22, and just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoyed the trip. Despite the wind and the snow, Dick took great care of us and put us on a lot of fish. Tom Nilsen set the pace for the group, landing 31 fish and missing half as many more! It was my first steelhead experience and I hope to be back soon to fish some of the other rivers up there.
I do have one more favor I would like to ask. Dick took a photo of me and a steelhead that I caught. I did not get any photos of me with a fish and I would love to have one as a memento of my first steelhead trip. If you could email me a copy of the photo he took, I would appreciate it very much.
Again, thanks to you and Dick for a memorable trip.
Peter E. Rodgers
Tafton, PA

11-21-08  Friday..... Steelhead Alley weekend forecast  We got blasted with another winter storm last night.  Roads are in poor shape with six inches of fresh snow on the ground. They are calling for a high of 25* today and a possible 4-6 more inches of snow. I cancelled my trip today but I talked to Dick the machine Keagy last night and he was rigging gear for today.  He hasn't called yet this morning.  Can't blame him for wanting to fish so bad. The last couple of days have been awesome  More like catching than fishing. We have been bouncing around on Ohio skinny water this week and we have been racking up some impressive numbers.  Conneaut is shaping up and should fish today.  Water color was good the last couple of days but the flow was too strong.  Greg pulled a few nice ones out of Connie on Wednesday but he reports lots of lead was required to get down. Greg fished the Rocky yesterday and was double digits with the pinn.  He said the river had a nice color and flow but it was crowded.  My three guests fly fished yesterday and it didn't take long to find out that the fish wanted eggs.  Glo-spawn and sucker spawn in pastel colors was the ticket. We caught some real fresh fish.  Bright males with undeveloped kypes told me that they hadn't been in the stream long.  Dicks guys fished bait the last two days and also did very well. It appears like the rain last Saturday did indeed bring in a nice run of fresh fish.  Lets just hope winter holds off a little longer.  Most of the streams on the Alley will fish this weekend.   I'm looking for possible Slushy conditions Saturday morning but Sunday should be a nice day.                                        C YA on the water....!!  Don

We have guides available almost every day until Christmas. Lets Go Fishin..!!

On a side note.  I just received Travis and Jeff's picture cards. I will have everybody's picture CD's made and shipped next week. I will also get some of those great shots published here.   Sorry it took so long..!!

11-20-08  Rae with her big Ohio Steelhead


11-20-08 Paul with a hard fighting Ohio Manistee Steelhead


11-20-08  Bob shows off a male with a huge hook jaw (kype)

For More "steelhead Alley" Fishing reports Click here

contact us


Save Time and buy your fishing license online.  Please check with your guide on what state you will be fishing.






Welcome to our Steelhead Fishing Reports page.  Here you will find, Ohio fishing reports and Pennsylvania fishing reports, compliments of Ohio Steelhead fishing guide, Don Mathews and the team of guides at

Webmaster - Guide Don Mathews


All guides listed below are self employed.  We have joined forces.  We believe that by networking together on the stream our group of local guides can give the best steelheading experience possible.  We guarantee it.. Feel free to call any of us at anytime to check on availability or to just talk fishin..   Don't be fooled by the NEW wave of guides in Ohio.  These guys are your true local steelhead pro's

Guide  Jeff Novak



Guide  Dick Keagy



Guide Travis McAllister


Guide Mark DeFrank


Greg Lum

He's usually too busy fishing to be bothered guiding BUT on occasion I can talk him into helping me out. If your looking for a guided trip with the center pin give me a call and I'll hook you two up

TTo book a trip with any of the above guides please call Don Mathews at 330-565-5457 .  He handles the website and our central booking calendar at  You may also call your guide of choice at anytime with questions or to check on availability.



ATTN:  Clubs, Trout Unlimited Chapters, Sports Shops

We have put together a great Power Point Presentation on Fishing "steelhead Alley" its not just a bragging guide with a bunch of big fish pictures.  We have put together an informative lesson on steelheading.  It contains many tips we have learned in our 10 year history of Guiding Steelhead Alley.   The principals we show you can be applied to many other fisheries. We offer this presentation at a very reasonable cost of $100 plus our fuel expenses.  We have a high Definition Power Point projector all we need is a screen or blank wall and a group of fishermen.  Feel free to contact Don at 330-565-5457 to set up a date for your club meeting.


Stream Maps



New York


"Steelhead Alley"

Steelhead Facts

All of our streams in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York hold fish during the winter months December- March 


New York Steelhead fishing is best in October thru December but most years the Cattaraugus Creek s the first stream to get a run of fish

Pennsylvania Steelhead fishing peaks in November and December but gets runs as early as September.  They are the most heavily stocked streams on "Steelhead Alley" and hold the most fish per square mile.

Ohio Steelhead fishing starts in October and lasts until early May.  Ohio streams are usually fish the best in the spring.



In addition to our guided Ohio and Pennsylvania trips we offer a select number of trips each Fall to Western, NY and the Cattaraugus Creek. Steel headers often refer to the Catt as the "Crown Jewel" of our Great Lakes tributaries. We fish the Catt during the month of October. It is a beautiful stream and the early fall fishing is great. Give me a call and we will discuss a trip to the Catt. Don Mathews NY License #4348

We also have a presentation "Finding Fish on Steelhead Alley" available to put on at your seminar, event, or club meeting. We have assembled a awesome slide show and have all of our own equipment. We offer this presentation at a very minimal cost, and your audience will learn from it. So Please contact us....

Many lodging options exist along "Steelhead Alley" and Interstate I-90.  Here are a few lodging options located near to the streams that we fish.

Comfort Inn Elyria Ohio;  440-324-7676
EconoLodge Elyria Ohio; 440-324-3911
Howard Johnson's Geneva Ohio Exit#218; 440-466-1168
State Park Lodge Geneva Ohio Exit #218; 866-806-8066
Hampton Inn Ashtabula Ohio Exit #223; Call   440-275-2000
Comfort Inn Ashtabula Ohio Exit #223; Call   440-275-2711
Days Inn Conneaut Ohio Exit #241440-593-1226
Best Western Erie Pa exit#18 814-838-7646

Clarion Inn Erie Pa Exit#18 814-833-1116

Comfort Inn Dunkirk NY Exit#59 716-672-4450

White Inn Fredonia NY Exit#59 716-672-2103

Best Western Dunkirk NY Exit#59 716-366-7100

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