Our Man In Canada
February 16th, 2004

Lake Erie Streams, Part 2
By Scott E. Smith

Fly Patterns

Caddisflies are very important in Lake Erie tributaries, specifically in the Grand River system, which includes Whitemans Creek and the Nith River. Numerous species of caddis thrive in the Grand's nutrient-rich waters. Many of which are of the net-spinning variety. This is likely why steelhead in this system has a penchant not only for caddis larvae patterns, but skated and dead-drifted caddis dries. Any ardent steelhead-nut will tell you that a steelhead on a dry is bliss; worth five steelhead taken subsurface. Fish Elk Hair Caddis, small Stimulators and steelhead waking dries in these streams when weather conditions are mild in May, June and September.

Wet flies, Spey flies and soft hackle patterns are best swung rather than dead-drifted because of the inherent nature of emerging caddisflies. Mayflies are also very important in Grand tributaries such as Whitemans Creek, and size 12 or 10 nymphs from the Hare's Ear family will produce nicely.

On Long Point Bay tributaries like Big Creek, caddis are not quite as important Subsequently Hare's Ear Nymphs and other general mayfly/stonefly representations will produce well on a dead-drift presentation, as will smallish, subtly coloured egg patterns.

Big Creek

Big Creek is the largest stream flowing into Long Point Bay, and, historically, is the largest producer of steelhead on Lake Erie. The estimated annual return is approximately two-thousand fish.

Big Creek currently [as of this writing in 1999] has a year-round open season for steelhead in the lowest 40 kilometers of the stream from the village of Lyndoch to the mouth on Long Point Bay; and additional 10–kilometers of extended season water (trout opener in April to December 31) begins at Lyndoch and ends at Highway 3 in Delhi. This top 10 kilometer stretch of Big creek fishes the best, with an abundance of sandy-and gravely-bottomed riffles, run and pools that remind you of Michigan's Rifle or Platte rivers. Because the river rarely floods, this forty- to fifty-foot-wide stretch of river is tight with foliage, making the roll cast a valuable angling tool. Below Lyndoch the stream opens up, but takes on a u-shaped, deep channel configuration, which is difficult to read and wade.

The steelhead recovery in this system (which is really a river not a creek) is due to recent instream debris removal and dam modifications by the OMNR and groups such as the Delhi District Anglers Association. Recent electro-fishing studies suggest that steelhead juveniles have increased dramatically in this system, and may even double the return in the not-too-distance future.

Migratory browns are also available in Big Creek during their annual summer migration. They can also be successfully pursued by "flats fishing" the mouths of Long Point Bay rivers with a sink-tip line and a lake pattern such as a Clouser Deep Minnow. ~ Scott E. Smith

Continued next time.

Credits: From Ontario, Blue-Ribbon Fly Fishing Guide, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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