Thursday, August 16, 2012

As the evening temperatures in the steelhead alley area continue to fall, this will trigger the movement of steelhead closer to shore, and eventually into the river mouths. We have the benefit of surface temperature monitors out in Lake Erie. They are spread throughout the lake. 

After my last check of them, we are getting closer by the day to some better water temperature readings. Most of the area is still in the low 70 degrees to upper 60′s in some spots. This is the time of season that all steelhead anglers begin getting the itch to go out and hunt for their first steelhead of the 2012 season. One of the prime indicators that I use to tell how close steelhead are to shore is by listening to the walleye anglers that troll Lake Erie. When I hear them picking up steelhead 2-5 miles out, then I know it is getting close to that time. 

As you begin your trek out to the area streams and stream mouths, take note of the sunrise times during the early season. The best bite seems to be just before light and a few hours after light. As the season progresses into the fall and winter, these best bite times will continue to be later in the day. 

I get many emails about where to go during early season. It has been my experience that your best chance to hook into a few steelhead during the September timeframe is at the break walls near the shores of Lake Erie. My personal favorite is the Fairport Harbor “Long Wall”. I prefer this area because the break wall extends into the lake quite a ways, and has ample room to move around and try different spots. This walk is not for the faint at heart, and the trek out can be tricky if the rocks are wet. 

If for some reason you are not able to fish the long wall due to a disability, your alternate option is to fish the Fairport “Short Wall”. You can easily park and walk to this wall, and it accessible by all that care to fish.

Some of the most effective methods of catching steelhead in this area would be casting spoons, rooster tails, and jig/maggot combos. I like the Cleo spoons personally, because I can cast them quite a ways. I use the countdown/fan cast method. I fan cast the area and countdown to 5. If Iget no fish, I fan cast the area and countdown to 6, so on and so forth, until I either get a fish or I move to another area. The rooster tails can catch the fish as well, but I prefer the spoons.

Whichever method you decide to use, ensure that you or someone around you has a long handled net. If you hook into a steelhead and are going to land it at the break walls, the long handle will allow your partner to reach down close to the water and scoop the trout up. You would be surprised at how high above the water you are when standing on the break wall pads.

When fishing the Lake Erie shores, it always seems that the fish move in packs. So when one angler next to you hooks into a fish, there may be more in the area, so get ready. Double headers are common.
Labor day seems to be the kickoff of the steelhead season, though weather conditions truly set the stage. As we begin getting more reports from the field, we will bring them to you.  

If break wall fishing isn’t for you, then target your streams in the lower sections before your first riffles. The current stream flows are very low, and any fish that may wander into the streams during the evening time probably are not going to venture very far upstream at this time.

Fish Hard…Fish Often…

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