New York Steelhead Fishing

New York Steelhead Fishing

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Anglers can pursue steelhead fishing from Cattaraugus Creek all to the way to Niagara River.  These feisty fish are chased by fishermen starting in November and lasting until April.  The New York Department of Environment Conservation spends considerable time, money and energy to keep the steelhead population stocked and healthy.

Steelhead fishing involves two different species of the fish as well as various tactics for landing a bragging size fish.

The Winter Fish

The Washington steelhead start to move through the tributaries of Lake Ontario around the middle of September as they begin to spawn.  Throughout October the spawn is in full force as water temperatures begin to cool off.  As the temperature approaches 40 degrees steelhead fishing will be great.  These fish are actively feeding in anticipation of their spawning run and will need all the energy they can get.  Once temperatures dip down into the 30’s, and below, the activity of steelhead will drop off considerably.  However, any slight warming pattern will bring a quick flash of action and can happen throughout the winter all the way into February.

Starting in March and lasting until April the steelhead will continue to spawn.  Once that is finished the fish will start to move downstream into the lake.  This is another great time for steelhead fishing since they will not be worried about the spawn and they are quite hungry.

The Summer Fish

Another strain of steelhead, called the Skamania, are stocked in New York along with the Washington strain.  The Skamania can be found in the Little Salmon Rivers along with the primary Salmon River. The fish will start to move into the river channel in May but the majority of the spawn occurs between June and September.  The best time to go after the summer steelhead is when the water levels are going up, such as right after a strong rain.  These fish wait until February to actually spawn.

New York Steelhead Fishing Tactics

Since steelhead can be aggressive almost any fishing technique that involves live bait or realistic artificial baits can produce a strike.  Anglers use spinning combos, fly rod combos and even float fishing to attract these healthy fish.

Fly Fishing – One of the important tips for steelhead fishing is to use a long enough rod that will keep the line off of the surface of the water.  For line in the 6 to 8 lb. weight size a rod at least 9 feet long is suggested.  Many anglers like to use the combination of 7 lb. line and a rod of 10 feet.   The reel should be large enough that it can store at least 100 yards of backing line of 20 lb. test.  The reel should also be quick enough to handle the extremely fast runs that these fish are known for.

Float Fishing – This style of steelhead fishing has really caught on in popularity in the past few years.  The ability to let a bait float along without getting hung up in a snag is an easy way to fish.  The rods used for this are quite long, stretching up to 14 feet, which helps to keep the excess line from sitting on the water. This type of steelhead fishing normally involves the use of slip weights or shot weights, so make sure you are following the correct fishing regulations.

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