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How long is the steelhead fishing good in Erie? What type of equipment and bait do you guys use? I want to head up for a weekend, but I am clueless. Thanks for the help!!
 

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Fishing the tribs is very hit or miss during the spring time. Suckers move in and cause a lot of "false" hits. Fall and winter have produced the best personally, but you can still pull out a few beat up steelies during the spring. Sucker spawns and egg patterns do okay and nymph patterns do well, with emerging insects will get hits. I always use a fly rod when up there, but wax worms always seem to do well for the bait fishermen.
 

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I suggest a 8' or 9'noodle rod, and a GOOD open face reel with lots of bb's in the drag. Wax worms were mentioned already. Other options are jig's... with a magget,wax worm or minnow hooked on for taste. Most use bobbers up there in their float setup. Key is still the same as trout fishing. get your bait down where the fish are and present it in a natural drift. Look on youtube, you'll find some decent video's, tips. there.
 

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Fly Guy said:
Fishing the tribs is very hit or miss during the spring time. Suckers move in and cause a lot of "false" hits. Fall and winter have produced the best personally, but you can still pull out a few beat up steelies during the spring. Sucker spawns and egg patterns do okay and nymph patterns do well, with emerging insects will get hits. I always use a fly rod when up there, but wax worms always seem to do well for the bait fishermen.
Are you sure you fish the tribs very often? The only reason I ask is because in all my 40 years of living here and growing up with a fly rod in my hands on the tribs, fishing for steelhead, I can honestly say I have NEVER seen a hatch...of any kind...influence the activity of steelhead and how the feed, of which, a steelhead's feeding virtually stops alltogether once the fish have been in the streams for a week or so, contrary to what some folks may think and the bite response is more to aggression to red invaders and a more lingering feeding-type reaction/response only, more than actual feeding. The water temps are also usually too cold to elicit a "hatch-type" feed as it were in the first place and the fish you do catch, are usually fairly lethargic until the water gets up a few degrees. To the OP, the thousands, upon thousands of late winter/early spring steelhead I have taken on the Lake Erie tribs would contradict what Fly Guy just told you. As long as the water at the mouths of the tribs are open enough and there is enough water in the streams, you have a very good chance of finding fresh fish in them. I fly fish exclusively as well and while I do use nymphs on occasion, I find spring steelies most receptive to streamers like wooly buggers and muddler minnows and minnow patterns and the like and spawn patterns like sucker spawn and ice chenielle patterns (both of which stimulate that feeding REACTION more than anything else). It's not to say you won't get a fish on about anything you put in front of their faces, but when the water is up and just ever so lightly stained, streamers in darker colors are what you'll find me throwing and catching fish on...
 

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I've seen hatches on the tribs, how much it influences the bite i can't say but I've seen steel come up and grab bugs off the top many times and know a couple guys who have caught them with dries. Little black stones have been hatching lately. Size 12 stones have been the ticket for me as of late.
 

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I think the typical person thinks "Hatch" there thinking caddisflies or mayflies adults/duns and fish are sipping them off the top which you will not see. There are hatches on the erie tribs as there is on any creek or stream though, where do you think the bugs come from? If anyone fished the past two weeks, as this time every year you will see a unbelievable grey/black stone hatch in 16s and 18s. They where everywhere last week. I have caught steel on top with large tan or olive caddis, mainly skating/swinging them, did the fish eat it because there was a caddis hatch, no.

Pertaining to the original question, in years past the fall has been on fire compared to the spring, doesnt matter what creek your on in Erie. Spring runs can still be good, not to mention you get spawned out dropbacks as well. I guess it depends on what one considers good, personally I'd rather fish 23 miles up on Elk for a pod of 6 fish by myself than for 400 stacked up with guys shoulder to shoulder so fishing is always good IMO. Generally, steehead fishing is "good" through mid april but fish can be had into may. This year has been different, fish are entering from the lake in many stages, I believe there is a ton of fish left in the lake and as soon as the water temp perks a bit and a lot of help from the rain gods, I predict an awesome spring run. I can only hope. As far as what to use, I generally fish a 10" 6 wt or a 11" 7wt switch rod. Any fly rod 9 ft or longer and 6-9 wt is prefered but you can fish with whatever you have, I prefer a longer rod for better drifts and line control. Egg patterns,nymphs and streamers is all you need. Play around with flies and colors and sizes and you will learn. If your spin fishing, bring a reel with a good drag and a 9 or 10 ft noodle rod is ideal. Single eggs are deadly, egg sacks and shiners as well. The easiest way is to get some small floats, small hooks and small shot, single eggs I'd fish a 16 or 18 Diachi egg hook, use a sz14 for sacks in the same hook. Run some micro shot or a bb shot 12-14 inches above the hook, run you float above that, usually 1 1/2 times the water depth you are fishing. You want a drag free drift meaning you want your rig from your indicator to your hook moving at the same pace as the water flow. Clear water your going to want to use single eggs over sacks, or white/light pink egg patterns over orange and chartruese. Always down size in low and clear water. Smaller nymphs, 16, 18s and 20's. Light line, 2-6lb, may want to use flurocarbon instead of monofiliment. Higher off colored water do the opposite, egg sacks may be a better option than singles, fish your brighter/flashier colored flies or big dark streamers. 6-8lb line is a better option now. If you have straight 8lb on a spinning reel, just buy a spool of 4lb tippet and run 6 or 7 feet of off your main line. Use longer leaders for low and clear water or get your line off the water completly. Of course there is a ton of different ways to fish steelhead and I could talk about flies, lines, water color and presentations for days but this is the easiest way to start and you will learn on your own with practice. Hope it helps.
 
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