Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau
Fish-on! The drag sounds off with a gentle scream. Line begins to quickly peel away and a flashy, silvery, figure of a fish leaps above the lake surface in the distance behind the boat. Exciting? YES! This is only the beginning of an electrifying Chautauqua County fishing season as the calendar turns toward the end of summer and the evolving Lake Erie fishery rotates to a new season of fishing thrills.
Steelhead stage in the deep water off the larger Chautauqua County tributaries as they prepare for their seasonal fall run. Walleye trollers targeting fish in the thermocline (60-90 feet of water) catch a good number of these high-flying, hard-fighting, steelhead.
Walleye anglers use a variety of lures and baits, but one new tactic involves spinner/worm rigs dressed with a brightly-colored plastic worm. The combo will entice deep water steelhead to strike, often fooling walleye on the same rigs.
Trolling spoons are also effective. The deep water steelhead bite will last through September, but as morning temperatures lower with the change of seasons, creek temperatures drop. Trolling and casting for steelhead moves to areas adjacent to our major tributary outflow areas. Starting in mid-September and through October, fishing these areas will offer peak, fish-catching fun.
From shore, anglers in waders use spinning tackle to cast for steelhead looking to swim upstream in the trib’s. Casting #2 and #3 size spinners such as the Blue Fox and Mepps Aglia, or ½-3/4 ounce spoons such the Luhr-Jensen Krocodile and Johnson Sprite, will often yield frequent hook-ups with fresh run fish. Sunrise and sunset periods are best.
As colorful autumn leaves come into view, October fishing appeals an increasingly large group of anglers looking to catch stream steelhead. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful and it’s simply fun. Every stream that has any outflow to Lake Erie may offer a steelhead run, even the tiniest streams, especially after a heavy rain. Anglers use fly tackle, float fishing tackle and spinning tackle with success – so pack your favorite fishing gear and head for the water. The major Lake Erie tributaries among steelhead anglers in Chautauqua County include Cattaraugus Creek, Canadaway Creek and Chautauqua Creek. Steelhead runs in these trib’s are consistent with lots of fish and there is adequate public access in these streams. Two special hotspots include the Westfield Waterworks Dam on Chautauqua Creek and the waterfalls near Laona on Cassadaga Creek.
Other smaller Chautauqua tributaries include Silver Creek and Walnut Creek, and many other smaller streams, these also receive good runs of steelhead, but offer little public access. Anglers can check in with property owners for landowner permission. With permission, the waterfalls below Route 39 on Walnut Creek and the waterfalls near Hanover and King Roads on Silver Creek are true hotspots on these smaller streams.
Barcelona Harbor and Dunkirk Harbor each offer excellent fishing for steelhead, brown trout and an occasional pink salmon from October through April. Anglers don’t have to walk far from their vehicles and can cast from shore locations to catch sizeable fish all through winter.
Come over and join us for this exciting late summer fishing adventure. Tight lines.