2 anglers, 2 days, 20 steelhead
No angler with winter steelhead fishing experience expects catch-rates in January to be similar to what you experienced in November. If you are lucky enough to have fished in January, you may agree that statement is true.
When fishing Elk, Walnut or Conneaut Creeks in January, you encounter poor stream conditions during a trip that makes fishing tough. Erie anglers often need to deal with the low flow and gin-clear water and make the most of their time on the tributaries. Other times you get great weather – forty degrees, cloud cover and some precipitation - steelhead nirvana.
Most, but not all, of the steelhead expected to arrive in a fall-run have migrated well upstream in the tributaries by January. The fish are scattered and angler fishing pressure decreased from the shoulder-to-shoulder days in October to more angler friendly levels now. There is plenty of casting room and a good number of available fish.
In Walnut Creek and most upstream locations on Elk Creek and Conneaut Creek, you can see the fish and they can see you. It is sometimes best to avoid casting to these small pods of fish in shallow water and opt for deeper holes on lower Elk and Conneaut Creeks.
A good winter, fish catching presentation is jigs. You can often watch anglers produce double digit catch rates using this method. Some of us produced far less hookups, but we seldom get skunked.
No surprise for those who know Erie bait fishing, bottom fishing egg sacs works great. This method may not be the best way to catch Lake Erie steelhead, but sackers seldom go fishless.
For instance on a trip, we stayed with egg sacs and changed fishing locations several times. After 9-hours of determined effort over two days, we eventually managed to produce a decent catch of steelhead – 20. That catch number keeps most of us coming back to Erie for more.
If you are contemplating a winter trip to Erie, possess above average jig fishing skills and you understand the weather and water challenges – round up your jigs, buy some maggots tie some fresh eggs sacs and head to Erie!
Just make sure you temper your expectations to match the reality of the conditions and fishing pressure you encounter.
If this post creates more questions in your mind, or you have a comment, drop a note to j