Don’t put that fishing gear away yet because lake-run steelhead fishing in New York is just starting to heat up.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding fishermen statewide that when hunting season is over, don’t have that fishing gear stowed too deep.
Steelhead will migrate up New York tributaries with November, December, and March being maybe the best months of the year to enjoy targeting one of the state’s most popular gamefish.
Lake Erie run steelhead can be some of the most exciting fish to catch and streams like Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Canadaway, and Eighteenmile creeks can be some of the best.
New York’s portion of the Lake Erie watershed is currently stocked with 230,000 fingerlings split between each of the nine major tributaries.
These stocked fish usually mature for two years in the main lake before returning to the tributaries where they were placed.
Average fish are in the range of 5 to 8 pounds, but 10- to 12-pound fish are common and bruisers of up to 15-plus pounds are caught each year.
Most veteran steelheaders prefer a medium action rod in the realm of 8 to 10 feet in length with a minimum of 8 to 12 pound test line. The DEC feels that lighter action equipment can easily break off fish and, equally as bad, overplay steelhead to utter exhaustion which can lead to their death.
Any stream that empties into Lake Erie can have the potential for a run of these beautiful gamefish as long as water levels are consistent. The most popular of these have plenty of access for the winter steelhead fisherman.