EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.
Anglers are now flocking to streams along tributaries of Lake Erie’s central basin as the annual steelhead spawning runs begin.
Rivers and creeks where these big shiny, silvery fish attempt to spawn are attracting anglers from all across the Midwest as the popularity of Ohio's steelhead fishery continues to grow.
December through March provides peak action for anglers. By this time, the trout that are already in the rivers are well distributed, and the bulk of the population begin heading up the streams to spawning areas.
Though they attempt spawning, they are not successful in Ohio. State Fish Hatcheries raise and stock steelheads to maintain their population.
Steelhead trout caught by anglers in the streams near Lake Erie typically average 25-inches long and weigh five to six pounds. These fish have usually spent two summers out in the lake. But there are a good number of fish that are over 30 inches and weigh more than 10 pounds.
See the Lake Erie Steelhead Fishing Report for more information.
Basic Steelhead Fishing Tips
The Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie steelhead trout fishery is maintained by stocking approximately 400,000 6- to 9-inch Little Manistee River strain steelhead trout in five tributaries (west to east): Vermilion River, Rocky River, Chagrin River, Grand River and Conneaut Creek.
This strain of steelhead trout average 25” and 7 pounds after two summers of growth in Lake Erie. This world-class fishery provides terrific opportunities for shore or wading anglers to catch large lake-run fish relatively inexpensively.
See the Advanced Steelhead Fishing Tips for information about fly fishing, noodle rod fishing and float fishing for steelhead.
Fish close to the bottom in creeks and rivers.
Always use a fluorocarbon leader of 5- to 7-pound strength.
Use an 8- to 10-pound mainline.
Sharpen your hooks.
Check your line frequently for abrasion, kinks, etc.
Wear a ball cap and use polarized sunglasses for stream fishing.
When handling fish:
Always wet your hands.
Gently unhook and release fish
Cut the line of deeply-hooked fish off at the mouth prior to release.