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10 Best Steelhead Runs in New York

New York State anglers have a passion for catching steelhead and it has caught on. Blessed with both Lake Erie and Ontario runs, the Empire State has more steelhead fishing possibilities than can be counted. All stream access information from NYS DEC. We'll start down Lake Erie and work our way around from there.

1. Cattaraugus Creek


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Starting from the mouth at Lake Erie and working nearly 40 miles upstream, anglers can get an incredible jump on the spring run. Though a good portion of Cattaraugus Creek is located on Seneca Nations of Indian Reserve, which you will need to obtain a special license to fish, there is nearly 7 miles of public access that can be killer when timed right.  

2. Canadaway Creek

Canadaway Creek is known to hold some massive Steelhead from October all the way into the later parts of spring. Starting from the mouth and leading into the falls at Laona, anglers will quickly see why this spot has such a good reputation. Plus, there is nearly a mile of Public Fishing Rights on the DEC access site.

3. Cayuga Creek

Excellent steelhead can be landed from the mouth down to Como Lake County Park at Como Park Lake Dam. While only part of the 10 miles of water are available to the public, this entire stream offers some incredible fishing.

4. Eighteen Mile Creek

A well-known haunt for many in both Erie and Niagara Counties, this creek starts near Hamburg and has a reputation for one of the better steelhead runs in the early months of spring.

5. Niagara River

Yes, that Niagara River. With some 11 miles of the most amazing views you can imagine and access from both sides of the border, fishermen can say they've done something when they pull one out of here.

Lake Ontario has so many classic places to fish, it's almost impossible to list them all. Here are a few of the best options.

6. Johnson Creek

Flowing through the Niagara and Orleans counties and ending in Lake Ontario, this stream brings people in from all over, and it's easy to see why. Johnson Creek offers some phenomenal steelhead fishing as well as Chinook and Coho salmon.

7. Oak Orchard Creek (River)

The "Oak," as it's affectionately known, is as good as it gets in western New York or really anywhere else for that matter. Steelhead and brown trout are far and away the most popular targets, with several reports of steelhead reaching well over 20 pounds. This river is known to be the hottest during the late spring, but excellent fishing is available throughout the late fall and winter.

8. Genesee River

Anglers can partake in some of the best runs of steelhead in the spring and throughout the winter, but when the salmon run in the fall to spawn, look out! The lower portion of Genesee tends to be the most sought after. With the DEC stocking over 150,000 Chinook salmon as well as over 22,000 steelhead, this river is known to be exciting!

9. Oswego River

Drift boat fishing is a way of life in Oswego County. Another urban-sounding destination like the Genesee, the Oswego River will get you out of town and put steelhead on your line. While there aren't necessarily any state boat launch points, the towns and cities surrounding the river have done a great job at making boat launching a breeze.

10. Salmon River

The Salmon River has over 12 miles of PFR and boasts one of the best pure fisheries in the U.S. It is the holder of the Great Lakes record Chinook with a 47 pound, 13 ounce monster. Don't worry, there are plenty of steelhead as well.

Lake Erie run steelhead can be some of the most exciting fish to catch and streams like Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Canadaway, and Eighteenmile creeks are but a few of the best and some that every avid angler should cross off their bucket list.

New York is blessed to have borders on two different Great Lakes. The tributaries of Ontario alone almost can't be counted. The NYS DEC lists 22 different creeks, streams, and rivers as stocking locations for steelhead in Ontario. It would take a lifetime to fish all of these great locations so we better get started!