by Robbi Drake
My favorite steel head waters are not in the northwest. Well Okay maybe they are but not the typical northwest. They are located in northwest Pennsylvania, along Lake Erie and its tributaries. That’s right places like 16 mile creek, 20 mile creek and my all time favorite Walnut creek.
These creeks are all slate bottomed and extremely slick. I’ve had a few nasty spills in freezing water before I invested in felt soled waders so make sure that you’ve got something that’s going to help you keep your footing when you visit this area for steelhead.
There are usually a lot of fish where you can see them feeding and spawning. Theyare line shy and you have to use 4 to 8 pound test line and know how to set yourdrag and play them out.
When you do hook a fish if there are other fishermen in the
same hole and you will need to let them know that you’ve got something on.. Make sure that you say “fish on” and they will usually get out of the way.
As for fishing rods there are endless possibilities from fly rods and noodle rods. I
prefer spinning rod and reel. As for bait I’ve had luck with any thing from night
crawlers, live emerald shiners and egg sacks which are fish eggs tied up inside of
little squares cut from nylon stockings.
I usually use a size 2 or 4 hook and just enough split shot to get a good drift past the fish. When you do get a hit the take is usually very light so you need to watch your line if it quits moving you need to react. When you hook a fish they fight like crazy 3 and 4 foot jumps are not uncommon, be prepared to follow the fish when runs up and down stream. Fish from 20 to 30 inches are not uncommon.
As far as fishing out on Lake Erie is concerned the lake is huge and the waves can come up very fast. My advice would be to hire one of the many charter captains to take you out most of them can handle up 6 persons and they know where to locate the fish. Fishing is usually done with down riggers and planer boards and you can learn a lot from the boats crew.