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  1. Default Steelhead in the Northeast

    So, where and when do the steelhead start to run in the northeast? Thanks,Chet

  2. #2

    Default Re: Steelhead in the Northeast

    It depends......I know, just what you wanted to hear. But there is good news. I believe there are Steelhead in every one of the Great Lakes....and that they can be caught during all 12 months of the year. Keeping in mind that there are optimal times. You would have to do some major research and spend maybe a lifetime catching a summer run Steelhead (Skamania) in June, July or August.

    As in the PNW, where they were transplanted from.....there are Summer run (Skamania) and Winter run strains in a few of the Great Lakes. This opens up the catching opportunities.

    100% of my Great Lake Steelheading is on Lake I will summarize this fishery only. For Lake Ontario.....the primary run are winter run fish. Winter run Steelhead start in late Aug / early Sep...good luck catching one then. Their runs are very much water level, temp and juju factors we still don't know about. The heart of the Steelhead run starts in mid October when the Salmon are on their spawning beds and ending their journeys. October / November are considered some of the best times as it's not too cold, there are plenty of fish, and they are full of energy. There is nothing like catching a fresh Steelhead on a fly.

    December is good as the crowds have waned.....but in the NE... the weather is very unpredicatable. It could rain, sleet, snow, hail, and be sunny all in the same 8 hour day. They get educated....presentation and knowing where they congregate is key.

    Jan and Feb are difficult. Fish have weathered over if there are good flows and on many smaller has chased them back to the lake. There are tailwaters and big water where ice over isn't an issue. If you are a Steelhead junkie....this can be a joyous time to be out in nature chasing them. But it is not for everyone.

    March is when the others that haven't weathered over start to run and spawn. These fish are on a mission, they move quick, run upwater and spawn. March can be one of the most difficult months to catch one.... despite the fact that you may very well know they're in there.

    April and May next to Oct/Nov are some of the best months for hooking and landing a Steelhead. This is the end of their spawning and beginning of their migration back to the lake....AKA dropbacks. Water levels and temperatures are on the rise. Depending on the river it could take them a day or several weeks to make it back. But for the most part....they move quick. Once they spawn......they get very hungry. In many cases they haven't eaten for several months and have lived off of their fat reserves. The fight is good......but they can be very emaciated and thin........ Weather can again be unpredictable, but white outs in May are rare.

    Then there are the Summer runs. I've never caught one and I've been fishing up there for 30+ years now. But they're in there. In some Lakes...they are more prevalent, but nothing like the Winter run fish. Based on the supposed stocking would expect more to be caught.

    Some of the top Great Lakes Steelheaders out there to check out and fill in the many blanks I have only touched on:

    - John Nagy's Steelhead Guide for Lake E -
    - Matt Supinski who owns the Gray Drake Lodge in MI -
    - Kevin Feenstra - FEENSTRA GUIDE SERVICE | Committed to great service on the Muskegon River!
    - Greg Senyo - Steelhead Alley Fly Tying: Senyo's A.I. "Artificial Intelligence"
    - Walt Geryk (Spey Doctor) - Spey Casting, Switch Rod, Spey Fishing Lessons & Instructions | Spey Doctor
    - Rick Kustich 'Advanced Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead' -
    Last edited by flytie09; 12-03-2018 at 10:49 AM.

    “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.”
    ~Zane Grey

    " . . . shouldn't a man stand on his own two feet and catch his own steelhead? Maybe put out some effort and find his own fish just for the fun of it?"
    ~Syd Glasso

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Hudsonville, Michigan
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    Default Re: Steelhead in the Northeast

    flytie09's post is pretty much good for all the Great Lakes regions give or take a couple weeks. I'm in SW lower Michigan. There are still good numbers of fish in the Lake Michigan tributaries for instance the Grand, Muskegon, Manistee and Rogue Rivers, with many others in between.

    Good Luck Chet!


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