January 22nd, 2007

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Lake Erie Tributaries-Steelhead Outing of a Life Time?
By Max Fairall, Stamford, CT

November 2006 & November 2002

YES, this report covers November 2006 and November 2002. The Steelhead Outing of a Life Time was essentially repeated. The punch line is we hooked up about 100 steelhead and landed over 50 chromers in a single day! We did this is November 2002 and now we did it again in 2006.

My friend Herald and I went on our annual steelhead outing in early November to the Lake Erie south shore tributaries in extreme western New York. Herald is Herald Bair who lives in Charleston, WV. We worked for the same company for many years before we both retired. We now meet at destination places to fish together several times a year. We were meeting our guide at our motel at 5:00 AM, suited and geared up ready to jump in the river.

The fishing was pretty good the first two days with Herald and I each landing a dozen steelhead a day. This is pretty good steelheading success by any standard.

The second evening we had a soft drizzle all through the night. The guide called us before our wake up time and arrived earlier with increased enthusiasm and a sense of urgency to get moving. He announced we were heading for a small falls on a Creek and we had to get there in a hurry to get a preferred spot. Grumbling, I agree to forgo even a cup a coffee, let alone any food, to expedite our getting the "spot." I was thankful the rain had stopped by the time we got to the stream.

The Guide led us along the stream in the dark from the parking area on a half hour walk to a nice little falls about five feet high. The stream was up a little bit and slightly stained over the previous day's crystal clear condition. There was a large pod of steelhead just below the falls.

We began to catch chrome steelhead in the six to ten pound range at a nice steady pace. The creek slowly continued to rise through the day and we could see more and more fresh steelhead arriving first doubling, then tripling the fish pod below the falls. The hook-up rate just kept increasing through the day. The steelhead battles were near non-stop with the hot fish making blistering down stream runs with many great leaps and some performing multiple cart wheels in their attempt to escape and perhaps return to return to Lake Erie. Several hooked fish made second lightening speed runs back up stream and tried to make slack line jumps over the falls. One steelie actually made the falls jump and continued up stream to spool me before I clamped down to save my fly line. It was certainly different fighting a fish over my head.


In spite of taking several breaks in the morning, Herald and I were pretty tired and very arm weary by noon so we started fishing just one at a time. Who ever was fishing would be hooked up in a couple minutes so the fish battling was pretty much continuous. We finally had more than enough and quit fishing around 3:00 PM.

It was such a great day we decided to further celebrate with some fine Italian dining at DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell, NY with a Veal Saltimbocca feature accompanied by Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio. We concluded four years ago this was surely the Steelhead Outing of a Life Time that could never be repeated. Now in November 2006 we had repeated that Steelhead Outing of a Life Time day.

The Steelhead Outing of a Life Time for 2006 took place on Canadaway Creek and in 2002 Chatauqua Creek.

The flies used varied greatly such as woolly buggers, glow bug and estaz eggs, and nymphs including pheasant tails, zug bugs, prince nymphs, and early black stones. Smaller nymphs in size 14 seemed to get preference by the fish.

We used 10 Foot, 6 wt rods with large, high quality reels with no resistance start up and very smooth drags. These type reels are important to reduce break off when chrome steelies initially take off like a dragster.

Leaders were a 9ft, 3X base, cut back about a foot, before adding a 24"-30" of 3X flourocarbon tippets. We tried 8 and 10 lb. tippets to reduce the break-offs, but this also reduced the takes dramatically.

The streams are relatively close together, but can have significantly different water conditions due to localized lake effect rains. The better guides are in frequent cell communication with each other sharing stream and fishing information.

Our guide service for 2006 was provided by John Kovacevich who owns and operates:
J & K's Guide Service
2985 Valley Lane
Sheldon, New York 14145
E-mail: Steelheader84@yahoo.com

We now believe it is possible to Three-Peat The Steelhead Outing of a Life Time when three critical conditions are met:

  • Light rain for several hours to give the streams a freshet of water to bring it up slowly with a slight stain.

  • Chrome steelhead standing by in the lake at the river mouth waiting for the slight water level increase to encourage them to make the run.

  • Great local fly fishing guides with the right flies, who keep on top of the fish and streams, and who know where and when to go.

We will definitely be there in early November 2007 going for the Three-Peat. ~ Max

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