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Is steelhead fishing overrated?

Discussion in 'Northeast Ohio Fishing Reports' started by BankBum, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. First,I don't wish to offend anyone with this thread. I know their are fishermen that are very adept to this type of fishing. Here is my beef. I like to think of myself as a good fisherman. I can catch my share of walleyes,pounds of perch,and catfish and crappies until my hearts content. Steelhead is a whole bunch the opposite.

    My first problem is I don't like to fish elbow to elbow with other gentlemen. I have no problem sharing a fishing hole. I think I respect someones fishing space more than most people. Tangled lines, eight pairs of waders in the water sloshing around, and eight differant bait selections all in a space you couldn't park a truck is somewhat of a joke. I try to stay away from the "community" holes due to those reasons.

    I have scouted the river. I have went on numerous hikes and found some nice spots that few people go to. I understand that my I dea of a good hole and the fishes idea is not always the same, so I try several. I use an assortment of differant baits( spawn sacs,jig-maggot,minnows) Fly fishing is the only method I have not used.

    So, after several trips fishing and hours on the river I have one fish to brag about. That's right- one. I know I'm not your typical fisherman. I should say I have had tweny or so ten pounders. I have came to the assumption that this is not much of a fish to target for a past-time. I have read posts that people have taken years to figure out these fish,and the rivers they are in. When the papers and baitshops say the steelhead are biting good. I now take that with a grain of salt.

    Many times after one of my several lousy outings, I will drive to other spots where the people are all herded up on the holes. I rarely see any fish caught. I am talking about driving to four or five holes with numerous anglers. Where are all the fish? I see the fly-boys dressed to the nine's, not a one. The bobber-boys, just bobbing. And the lure casters, just sore arms.

    I am not discounting any of the fish you have caught. I do believe that angler's do come away with good numbers of catches. And some real trophies. All I am saying is for the average angler,I think were the one's with the hook in our mouths. Snagged by the excitement of an easy steelhead run. I have found it couldn't be anything further from the truth. It's so overrated that I will be out again next weekend,cursing at my fishing holes.
  2. BankBum, I would like to welcome you to the site. I read your first post and its a good one!

    I think what seperates you from alot of other anglers is one simple notion, your honest about your day of steelhead fishing. Sure, you'll see posts and hear a lot of "twenty fish days" from people but more times than not, like your post describes, you see a lot of nothing from angler's when on the river. Is steelhead fishing easy? Nope, it takes a lot of time and experience to get good at it with a little luck to boot! Is steelhead fishing frustrating?...ABSOLUTELY! It takes a special breed to be a steelehead angler and that's what I love about it. You may have ten to twenty hookup days as well as zero hookup days but that comes with the territory.

    I've been steelhead fishing for about 5 years now. Mainly a weekend warrior but I've been known to hit the Chagrin during the week as well. Now, like you, I have had some slow days as well as productive ones but never a "bad" outing because anytime I can make it out, I consider it a good day. I have fished the "community holes" on the Chagrin and Grand as well as hiked both rivers in search of good "away from the crowd" water. I've thrown everything I have at them and sometimes my presentation produces and other times, I get a big fat nothing!

    Now, I agree that the steelhead fishery we have here in Ohio is world-class and that our rivers are filled with these magnificient fish year after year. Whether they want to cooperate everytime I go out is another story. River conditions, weather, time of the year, pressure and countless other possibilities can attribute to why these fish are "bait-shy" one minute and the next, they'll rip any bait you put in front of them.

    With my experience, I try to stay away from certain reports just because I feel they are reporting the same old story. I have several sources I trust prior to going out but that still does not guarantee me fish. My only source I trust 100% of the time is me and when I get to the river and start fishing. I'll check the river gauge and the weather report, prior to making the trip and decide then if its worth it or not. I'm from the Akron area and it's atleast an hour drive for me to hit any of our rivers and like you, I want to get the most production fishing when I'm walking the river.

    I feel your frustration and I think I can sum it up for you with this... its that one, damn steelhead you caught. That's all it takes to get hooked my friend! My first steelhead came on the long wall in Fairport Harbor. It was Labor Day weekend, really early for steelhead but I didn't care. About my third cast, I hooked into a nice female that went about 5#, maybe 25" and its was the most incredible fight I've ever had while fishing. From that point on, I was hooked. I was a steelheader!

    So, how can you be more productive? I think your doing all the right things. Getting away from the crowds in search of good, secluded water. Trying a variety of baits with different presentations. I would keep an eye on the weather & river gauges to time the most ideal conditions before you make the trip out. And most importantly, don't get frustrated with everything you hear and read. If anything, take it with a grain of salt. The fish will come, you just need to keep after them!

    That said, have fun "cursing at your overrated fishing holes" next weekend. I hope you get into them and welcome to OGF!

  3. Welcome to the site Bankbum. I really enjoyed reading your post. It does take a little time getting used to fishing elbow to elbow . I really don't care for it myself but if you want to fish for steelhead you have to accept it. It may seem like a three ring circus but you do meet a lot of nice people on the water. There was only a couple of times that I met some rude people on the water . If they want the spot that bad I just get up and leave and find another spot or have breakfast in town and go back later. I have to agree with pymybob as long as you had the time to go out fishing its a good day even if you catch nothing.
    I think we seem to forget that these steelhead are an open water fish. They spend most of the year swiming around Erie chasing bait. They go into the rivers for one thing. to spawn. This is when they are most concentrated in a small area where it is easy for people to fish for them. But they are trout. And a trout is a trout when it comes to feeding time. They don't feed all the time and you just have to "put your time on the water" to be there when they do. I had some of my best days in a 45 minute period. After that you would think there was not a single fish in the river. Don't feel bad about getting skunked. I've been skunked more times than I can count but there is that one day when everything lines up and goes right and thats what brings you back. My personal best was a 33 1/2 inch female that went at least 12 pounds or better using a fly rod. Thats a hell of a fish for out west or Alaska and unbelieveable for a place like Ohio. After catching a fish like that it makes it a little easier to put up with the amount of people on the water.
    Don't give up. You'll have your day and you will be hooked like the rest of us. Welcome to OGF and enjoy your stay....JIM
  4. smallieguy

    smallieguy Smallmouth Please

    Is steelhead fishing overrated?
    That being said, GREAT POSTS BOTH OF YOU.
    BankBum welcome
  5. tpet96

    tpet96 Banned

    Fantastic read guys. :)
  6. Try night fishing. Unless the rivers are muddy it can be just as good, maybe better when the river is low, and without all the people. Glo jigs with bait under a lighted float will work as well as anything, better than most. You can go with heavier line as well.
    To answer your question I'd have to say no. They are a good fighting fish. However, when it comes to eating, I'd rank them right up there with Canada geese, coots, and carp. Pretty fowl. Erie steellies eat a whole bunch of gizzard shad and they taste it.
  7. I would say no to it being overrated. Is it frustrating, yes. Is there too many people? For my liking yes. But when you hook into one with some size and it peels off a 40-50 yard run, there is nothing else like it. Thats what I live for. And thats what makes all the things that piss me off about it worth it.
  8. Pymybob and Parrothead Jim had excellent posts. I'll add my two cents to that. I'm not sure if this is your first year really focusing on steelhead, but if it is, I can see why you have been disappointed. Sure, there have been some fish caught. But compared to the past couple years, it has been very slow. I've only been at this 3 years, so that's all I have to compare it to. But from talking to guys I trust, it has been slow. That's mainly why you don't see a lot of action out there. I was very lucky to start my steelhead fishing two years ago in the fall, when the lake action was unreal. This is no joke, but you could fish for a few hours and possibly catch 8-10 fish. It made my confidence grow, and I was able to learn a lot about these fish. The rivers were a different story. I couldn't catch one in the river to save my life. I went the following spring fishless in the rivers. The following fall, I stumbled across a hole on the Chagrin. It is what I call my honey hole, and I catch a lot of steelhead there. But here's the funny part. I've probably caught 200 steelhead there in the last year and a half, and probably 15 steelhead combined when I go to other parts of that river, or other rivers in the area. I just happened to get lucky, and found an awesome hole. For example, today I went to the Avon Power plant and caught two. I then went to the Rocky for 4 hours, and didn't get a single hit. I even tried some awesome holes that I have fished with some OGF steelhead veterans, and no luck at all. If I was a newbie, I'd probably be extremely frustrated. I was a little annoyed, but it was just nice being out and enjoying my time away from work.

    Whoever said trying it at night is correct!!! I try to get out as much as possible at night. If you ever want to hook up for a night trip, let me know. It's a lot easier than getting up at 5 to get your favorite hole. We are very lucky to have this fishery in Ohio. I have come across rude fishermen, but they don't come close to numbering the nice guys I have met on the river. You find rude people at Walmart, too, but it doesn't stop you from going there :)
  9. Dingo


    Both for success with catching fish and avoiding the crowds. This year has been a bit tough for many due to an abundance of high water. Even with conditions like today (3'+ visibility), the water was running nearly a foot above "normal". This spreads fish out beyond the normal "holes" and makes finding them a bit more challenging.

    Getting our during the week is the ticket for avoiding the crowds, but, walking to the more out of the way places helps as well. Some weekend mornings are interesting as well, such as this morning (Sunday). I was suprised to find a normally popular access lot empty. Walking the river from the access, I went over a mile before seeing anyone else. Unusual for a weekend, but it happens. Weekend afternoons are often a decent time to avoid some crowds as well.

    Even though you may seek out fishy looking "holes", you should concentrate on working different areas of the hole (rapids, head, center, tailout) to see where the fish may be located. They aren't always in the middle of the run or hole. Keeping your bait near the bottom is key as well. Moving a foot or two deeper sometimes saves a fishless day.

    I don't believe that it's overrated, since it has provided a reason to fish the Erie tribs in the winter and early spring. Prior to the steelhead stockings, the tribs (such as the rocky) would be void of fisherman for the most part from the end of the salmon run (November) until the sucker run started (March). Now, the tribs have a year-long fishery, with the smallmouth, catfish, carp, steelhead, and a few salmon to keep us busy.

    Keep trying and watching others and you will figure out this "game". Concentrate on trying to be on the river during the prime periods (water dropping and clearing from a higher water period, foot or more visibility until it gets too clear) and you will find success.
  10. Thanks for the reply guys. Maybe I will try some night fishing. The only way my chances have to go is up, rock bottom is rough. Don't get me wrong in my post. I wasn't saying I run into a lot of rude people on the river. That is quite the contrary. I just don't feel comfortable dropping my line into a hole that is already pretty busy. That's just more out of respect for the other anglers,not that anyone is being rude to me.

    I just need to start producing something. My wife thinks I have someone on the side :) . It's pretty bad that I can't find my mistress and when I do she chooses to ignore me!
  11. I'm no expert, but I'm really hooked. Started throwing Little Cleos in the fall a few years ago.(from a boat) Some skunks,some great days. Averaged about 5 a day.
    The fight from those fresh fish was unreal. I compare them to smallmouth bass, only the average fish is 5-7 lbs.Get a fresh one about 28-30 inches and I promise you'll be hooked too.
    I'm paying alot of dues shorefishing. I recently bought a noodle rod and a fly rod, but I haven't even hooked up yet.

    Last weekend, the guy next to me had twelve in a couple of hours.I never had a hookup.He took the time to explain some of the little edges he had,and I hope to use them next time.

    If your like me, you paid dues, or someone showed you how to catch the other kinds of fish you fish for. Just keep working and it will eventually come together.

    Also, maybe it's just me, but I do about 5 times better on the Grand, than anywhere else.
  12. Steelie Junkie

    Steelie Junkie Banned

    First of all, Smallieguy tell us why steelhead are overrated? I have 20 years of steelheading under my belt and I still get goose bumps when the float goes under. I use both float and fly rod. I still prefer to use bait over flies. Your first mistake is fishing near easy access. These areas get pounded a lot. The end result is pressured fish don't hit often, so go off the beaten path. I mostly fish the Rocky and the fords are so overrated. Don't give up, keep hitting the water. Here are some pointers. Look for riffles that have gravel. Then look up and down stream. If you find deep water, steelhead will hold in there. Steelhead like to be near gravel. In the fall, steelhead are often found in the lower sections. They'll seek out deep water as they need to adjust to their new environment. Look for pools or runs that have a broken surface. In the winter, again look for deep pools and fish the tail sections. Tail outs are a favorite area, because the stream bottom begins to rise and deflects the current up. In, the spring they start to spawn on the gravel. This is a prickly issue as some people don't believe in targeting spawning fish. There are is very little evidence of natural reproduction in Ohio. I've heard of some on the upper Conneaut. When the water is stained, I will target males as you can see them, because their bodies are dark. They usually hit a streamer or egg pattern easily. However, when the water gets low and clear. Steelhead often vunerable to lining and getting fouled hooked. That's when I fish farther downstream off the gravel in deeper water. These fish are more likely to take a fly. I got good at steelheading from trial and error. There are plenty of good books and websites out there. I've meet the owner of and he's a wealth of information.
  13. Guess I'll have to let you know after the next couple of days...
    I have not fished for steelhead in a long time and plan on getting back into it sometime Monday after I get myself setup with the right equipment...
    I's say this much if you don't like hitting off water areas where you have to find the fish and don't hit your normal pools then its just liek fishing a small pond to me...
    I was raised fishign for trout back in Pa and love what stream fishing brings to the table which includes taking the time to learn the stream just from looking at the section your in then figuring out what it takes to get the fish to commit to oyur offering...
    SUPER stuff I can't live without anymore...
    HAVE FUN ALL I always do :D
  14. I wouild say that most of my 'game' is finding the spots where fish are, but people are not. Or usually I will not fish....Not that I don't like others and ocassionally I will fish the hot crowded spots too...

    Got a 14 ft. sea nymph and now I go all year for all species......

    But in the right spots on the right mornings, I do find the steelhead unrivaled in excitement....

    Find a buddy who will cough up some good spots...

  15. BankBum,
    Keep at it and gather all the information you can. I'm not an expert, but the thing I like about steelheading is that the little details can make a huge difference. When you figure out those details, you can have a lot of fun. Of course, what works changes every day.

    One piece of advice is if what you're doing out on the water is not working, change what you're doing (depth, shot placement, bait, area, etc.).

  16. I enjoyed all the opinions in this thread and feel obligated to add mine. There is the 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish 'theory'. That is not BS but a "Hard-To-Accept", TRUE FACT!
    Some examples, one friend of mine who is a great fisherman, primarily concentrating on trophy muskie and stripers with an occasional trophy walleye thrown in, was somewhat reluctantly introduced by me to steelheading. Since he already was a very accomplished angler, he got his first one pretty quickly and the hook was in. He finds it extremely easy to catch them and tries all kinds of techniques, lures, etc. to add even more "challenge" to it. He even bought a flyrod and started making his own flies-also with great success. We had a mutual friend, now deceased, who could make the day if he was in your boat or along for a river or shore fishing trip. He ALWAYS caught fish! I think there was a lot of luck involved in his case, but it is that and much more-it's called SKILL and ABILITY to adapt.
    You can't go out once a week and expect to nail them each time. You simply have to get out there frequently, and LEARN the Craft so to speak.
    Al Lindner, one of the greatest fishermen of our time, LIVED on the water and constantly studied the fish he was pursuing! The truth is, there are 'fishing men', and there are FISHERMEN! Most of us are in the first group-me included, and I've come to accept that. I still really enjoy getting out, even if most of the time, I don't fare too well!! Good Fishing!!
  17. I don't feel any species or form of fishing is overated. Depends on how you approach the particular challenge. I have just as much fun catching smelt as I do hawg walleye, large and smallmouth bass, all trout specie including the 7 to 10" brookies on a small back off the road stream in Pennsylvania, or the toothy critters in fresh or salt water. Like anything else, steelheading can be as rudamentary or sophisticated as you want to make it. I prefer the flyrod but don't mind sharing a pool or run with someone using a spinning outfit as long as they are courteous. Now, according to some wives, fishing in general is OVERATED. :D :D :)