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The 10 Best Steelhead Runs in New York

new york steelhead

As anglers in the Empire State set their sights on spring steelhead fishing, these top ten tributaries are the places to be 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 way and work our way around from there.

1. Cattaraugus Creek

CCO Flyfishing

With public access for six miles in the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area, fishermen can get a good head start on the spring run here.

2. Canadaway Creek

Perfect Fly Store

Good fishing from the mouth to the falls at Laona. Plus, it has about a mile of Public Fishing Rights (PFR).

3. Cayuga Creek


Fishing can be had from the mouth down to Como Lake County Park at Como Park Lake Dam.

4. Eighteen Mile Creek


A well-known haunt for many in both Erie and Niagara Counties. Special regulations apply in the Erie section, but the Niagara section is PFR from the mouth to Burt Dam.

5. Niagara River

Lake Ontario Salmon

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 crazy good ones:

6. Johnson Creek

Orleans Outdoors

Cars with license plates from five or six different states and the Province of Ontario can be seen parked along Route 18 when the run is on.

7. Oak Orchard Creek (River)

Let's Catch Fish

The 'Oak,' as it's affectionately known, is as good as it gets in WNY or anywhere else. Steelhead and brown trout are present in the river from October to May. The Oak has been known to give up 20-pounders.

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!

9. Oswego River

You Tube

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.

10. Salmon River

On The Water

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 lb 13 oz 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.

NY is blessed to have borders on two different Great Lakes. The tributaries on Ontario alone almost can't be counted. The NYS DEC lists 22 different creeks, streams, and rivers as stocking locations for steelhead on Ontario including:

"Black River, Stony Creek, South Sandy Creek, Salmon River, Grindstone Creek, Oswego River, Sterling Creek, Sterling Valley Creek, Maxwell Creek, Irondequoit Creek, Genesee River, Salmon Creek, Sandy Creek, Oak Orchard Creek, Marsh Creek, Johnson Creek, Keg Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek, E.Br.of Twelve Mile Creek, Four Mile Creek, and Lower Niagara River."

It would take a lifetime to fish all of these great locations so we better get started!


The 10 Best Steelhead Runs in New York