Never caught a steelhead
This post is for a"beginner" steelhead angler who has never caught a steelhead. I mean not one! By posting now, this message gives you the opportunity to plan a trip when catching a steelhead is nearly a sure thing – perhaps that is an exaggeration.
You may have fished for steelhead in the past, and even made a few trips to Erie that ended without a fish. Your reasons for failure could have been bad water, bad timing, no fish, bad advice, no skill, wrong bait, too crowded, or just ran out of time.
Erie steelhead fishing is, at times, so easy that the only step to achieve success is hitting the water with your bait! Likewise for beginners, Erie steelhead fishing can be the most frustrating endeavor you can attempt especially when you can see the fish that refuse to eat your offering. This video is proof on how easy it is. Cast, hook and land a steelhead in 120 seconds.
This is my recommended path for success:
If you can plan when you fish, I suggest mid-week in early November. Weather and water conditions are usually ideal for catching steelhead. The steelhead run is in full swing at that time of the year so the fish will be there.
I recommend fishing with spinning tackle and bait. I suggest single salmon eggs or fresh skein egg sacs. Use a float for both baits if the water is normal. If you have above average flow, fish sacs on the bottom. Single egg fishing may not be the best option in high water. Fly anglers use tandem rigs of eggs/attractors, Woolley buggers, or nymph tandems. High water fly anglers use “big and bright” flies.
For the where to fish, I recommend Elk Creek Access. It is easy to find with good parking and access. Mid-week fishing pressure is moderate so don’t expect to have the best water to yourself. The first two miles of Elk Creek will hold steelhead for nearly the entire steelhead season. This may not be the best place to fish, but it offers the best odds for success.
I have given up predicting water levels and weather conditions for any season in Erie Pennsylvania. You need to do that yourself in advance of your trip. Trip planning is important. If things are “normal” then you can expect a good trip.
If you absolutely cannot schedule a November date to fish for steelhead, you have options. September offers spotty fishing success, but most of the catching takes place close to Lake Erie. The fish are usually “ganged” together in a few holes that attract many anglers.
October is the most picturesque time to steelhead fish Lake Erie tributaries. Fall colors, fish scattered in many locations, and the best time to create a beautiful photographic memory. Good luck.