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Secret, outoftheway spots for Steelhead

Discussion in 'Northeast Ohio Fishing Reports' started by AndroDoug, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Hey guys. I know what I am about to ask may be a bit much, but I won't know if I don't try.

    I have never caught a steelhead, yet, but have tried a handful of times over the past year. I have been skunked at the Ashtabula gorge twice last early spring, once at the mouth of Euclid creek (where I got bit by a spider...see post in general forum!) and once at Todd field(??). I am sure I will catch one, sooner or later at these very public places, but because it is so public, I have little motivation to go back. I simply am uncomfortable fishing shoulder to shoulder with other fishermen (often deplorable sportsmen). I am a true sportsman that cares both about the fish, but the land and the water we fish from. I volunteer from time to time with cleanup programs at local lakes and reservoirs. I frequently hear of veterans of this site having their secluded areas where there are a minimal of people. I would love to be a guest to these areas sometime.

    Fishing, to me, is one part action, and one part atmosphere. I fish primarily electric only or private lakes for bass and pike to keep away from the crowds. I would like to know of an area where me and a retired friend of mine can get away and have a peaceful afternoon and catch a couple a fish. I only want to go maybe once or twice or so, as I like fishing in WARM WEATHER, and I PROMISE I will not tell anyone!!

    I will rest on my reputation and good standing on this site, and with the people that know me here, that I am a good person. Some may know me as General Lee on the "old" site. I have always helped people here when I can, and have been more than willing to divulge secrets to other quality members via private message. If I know I can help someone with info, I have never been shy to help and open up, no matter who it was. I am asking the community to help me via private message, for a personal spot I can relax with a friend a couple times a year, and catch & release some steelhead.

    If someone can help me, I will be eternally gratefull. I will also be sure to give you an update on how well we did. Maybe I might even get to say "hey" and meet you!

    Thanks in advance, Doug (see you the 24th at the K.I.S.S. event at fairport harbor!!)
  2. K gonefishin

    K gonefishin Eye Slayer

    Don't take this the wrong way but it's your fault your not hooking up..I fished for 3 years at least 3 times a week, (work let me) and I never caught one. I grew up bass,walleye,perch fishing with my dad I never learned how to catch steelhead. My advice to you is watch other people at popular places and ask questions and advice there are alot of people who will help you get rigged. I do not have any problem at all hooking up with steel, at times but I EARNED IT and BELIEVE me it is all you not the spot or the other people the fish are there is it all in the presentation. I helped my brother, uncle and two best friends get into there first fish becuase I told them exactly what to do and it worked, just follow the leader man and you will be cool.

    FYI....I learned alot at Rockliffe Ford at the Rocky River there are guys who will give you the right hooks, floro, jigs, whatever just ask simple question about how much shot how to place it or whatever. Give me a PM and I will help,It just takes time I wasted 3 years of my life on these stupid fish and now it's easy, well not that easy,.

  3. The Rocky and Chagrin really get a lot of people on weekends as well as some weekdays. Conneaute has less pressure. Vermilion can have good fishing as well as limited pressure. The best advice I can give you is to get maps of the rivers that show the various parking and access. Rodmakers Shop in Strongsville have all the available maps. I'll warn you that all rivers are not mapped.
    After you get to a river you have to look and walk. Look for deep holes, small holes behind large boulders, deep runs but it is important that the surface of the water have a ripple or small chop. Steelhead insist on cover of some sort.
    John Nagy has written a very informative book on steelheading. That is where I learned the basics. Rodmakers should have that book or any book store should also. Steelheading by John Nagy.
    You are in for a thrill when you finally connect. I primarily fly fish and was out four time befor I finally blundered into my first fish.

    Good Luck
  4. Doug, you busy Saturday morning? I'll take you steelie fishing. If I can get my 6 year old son into one his first trip, you should pose little problem. LOL.

    PM me if you want to go.
  5. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Gee Big Daddy! How can you be so sure I am a better fisherman than "Little Daddy"! :p Being your son, I bet he is already more savvy on the water than most of us! ;)

    But seriously guys, thanks for the replies and PMs that I have got! I am not looking for any honey holes, just secluded areas that are also fishable. As far as this weekend goes, my Dad is in town from NJ. We have plans all weekend, including tickets to the Browns game! The following weekend, however... THAT is going to be Steelie weekend for me. I might go 3 days in a row up to the cleveland area. We'll see. The KISS event is on the docket, as well as one upstream, wilderness trip too. I just need to know what area to try.

    Hopefully, I'll get to see some of you guys at Fairport.
  6. I'll let you know how we do.
  7. Andro,

    I can relate well to your experience of striking out while chasing steelhead. I started fishing for steelhead in 1996, and did not catch one bigger than 2# the entire season. Below are a few items that I've learned that can greatly improve your luck at catching these fish:

    1. Using light line: 4-6 lb if the water is clear, up to 8 lb if the water is stained. Heavier line causes drag and an unnatural presentation.

    2. Use very small hooks. The largest hook I use is a #12, I will go so small as a #16 when fishing single eggs in clear water.

    3. If casting hardware, still use only very small lures. The best I've found are the blue/silver little cleo spoon, #2 mepps aglia with silver blade and bare hook, 1/24 oz rooster tail: white with silver spinner.

    4. If fly fishing, try bead head prince nymphs and/or sucker spawn. One or the other will just about always work. (size 12-16)

    5. Don't bother fishing if the water is too high. If the water is low, you can still catch them, but it will be difficult, and you need to go ultra quite & small baits. The best way to plan a trip is to look at the river flow rates. You can use this site: to look at the Chagrin river. If the flow is less than 100 cfs, I'd call the water low. Above 300 cfs, I'd say it's high. These values are somewhat subjective, but most guys would tell you if you are fishing the river as the water level is falling from 300 to 200, you WILL catch fish!

    6. The best all around bait is fresh salmon or trout eggs tied into egg sacks the size of a dime to a quarter. The eggs you buy in the store are generally worthless. Fish the eggs under a very small bobber with only 1 or 2 BB size weights about 12" up from the eggs.

    The Chagrin river is very good, but just about always crowded. Try going on a weekday morning. Fish any descent hole downstream from the Willoughby dam and there will be fish.

    I find Conneaut Creek to be the best that Ohio has to offer. Upstream a few miles from the mouth is the creek road covered bridge. (John Nagy's book shows him hooked up with a steelhead at this spot!). Right at the bridge is a good spot, but it will usually attract people. If you like solitude, start at the bridge and work your way upstream a mile or two. There are some very nice holes in this stretch; you will know them when you see them!

    Elk Creek & Walnut Creek (Erie, PA): If fishing for steelhead in the Fall, you can not beat either of these two creeks. The number of steelhead in these creeks is amazing. The lower sections of both creeks will attract tons of people. If you go upstream a few miles, you can find solitude in either creek.

    As a suggestion, as you are learning to fish for steelhead, I would not shy away from the crowded spots. Much of what I learned about steelhead fishing was by watching the successful anglers and striking up a conversation with them. When you fish the crowded spots, you will quickly notice that there are usually one or two guys that are catching most of the fish; these are the guys to watch. While you will hear many negatives about the behavior of the crowds, you will also find that there are many good fishermen in those crowds, and most of them are more than willing to help out the inexperienced.

    Good luck!

  8. You will learn a lot at the KISS outing. For a newbie, the best place to learn is in the lake. Hopefully they will be in a little better by then. Once you can catch them in the lake, it's just a matter of using the right presentations in the rivers and finding the right holes. However, I will say that once you are using the right presentations, it is a matter of being in the right spot at the right time to catch a lot of fish.
  9. Totally been there in the 0'fer category for steelhead. I went 0-fer-winter 2002-03 before hving a good year last year. My advice is the following:

    1. Go to Just watch a few posts, as a "lurker" as they will refer to you. You will pick up basic tactics among their friendly chit chat, though they won't mention where you should go to fish. Then once you start catching fish you can start posting and you don't have to be a lurker anymore. The mood of the forum is favoring the "sportsmen" and very negative toward stillfisherman, snaggers and meateaters, with a decent split between wading spin fisherman and flyfisherman.

    2. That earlier reply with the tip about the water flow was right on, and the tactics he mentioned will work, though its tough to tie fresh eggs until you catch a hen. Storebought egg sacks are an acceptable though less effective substitue. 1/16-1/64 jigs with maggots under a float will work as well, and maggots keep longer, are cheaper and more available. You can never buy too few jigs. Go for a bobber type that doesn't abrade or kink you string - fighting strong, large fish in cold weather with light line is a situation when any weaknesses in the line become glaring.

    3. Try again. The biggest thing I think with this type of fishing is that it is very hot and cold. Some days you could throw anything out there and catch 10, some days everyone is skunked. Given enough trips, you will hit it right eventually, and once you learn a bit from your success, you will have fewer 0-fers.

    4. I would learn in the popular, crowded spots. Once you think you know a few tactics that work, then go hiking. There are a number of secluded spots that are hard to reach, but the fish are more sparse, so you dont want to be learning from scratch in the tougher areas. The popular spots are popular for a reason.

    5. Get a Delhorme (spelling?) Gazetter or Mapquest can give you an idea where you might try as far as spots that should work but are not really that popular. Keep in mind though, Ohio law says that private property includes the shore and the river bed, so if you are on private property you are trespassing unless you are in a floating boat.

    6. If you really want seclusion, the dead winter months are the time. All the warm weather fishermen stay home.

    Good luck.
  10. TightLine

    TightLine Member

    Thank you Frozentoe and Pikeman for the valueable tips and information! I have been Steelie fishing a few times in Mi. and had some success but had a guide on all occasions.
    I have wanted the past few years to try the Erie rivers as they are a heck of allot closer but had no idea really of where to go and what to use.
    I understand hitting an 0'fer will will be a high percentage play but at least now I have a fighting chance!

    I understand it is raining now. I was hoping to be up there Sunday. does anyone feel this is a bad call?
    I've seen before where after a good soaking it takes a few days until the water is fishable again.

    Thanks Again,

  11. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Thanks guys for the information. I really appreciate it. :) This weekend I am busy, plus its crappy :mad: , but I am am going Fri, Sat, and Sun next weekend. Almost no conditions will stop me to try super-hard to get one! I will try public areas, and might go on a hike one time too. Plus, I'll see everyone at K.I.S.S.. :cool:

    One curiosity I still have...What are the best times of day? I am used to bass and they like the mornings best, then the late evenings too. There is also a spike in activity sometimes when the sun is at its highest. Does this hold true for steelhead as well? I would like to go next Fri evening after I get done with work.

    Heck, I might even get a room up there for a night! Go Fri till sundown, then wake up early, and only have to go a few minutes to get to a nice spot before sunrise. Sure beats driving an hour from Tallmadge. Anyone know a good hotel or B&B near good areas on Chagrin or Grand (or other)? This would make it like a "mini" getaway vacation! :rolleyes: I will check business listings and any links I can find, but if there is a can't miss place I should take a look at, please let me know!

    I think I might do that... Sounds like much-needed fun :) !

    I will probably see alot of you guys, but we won't know. Too bad I didn't have an OGF hat...
  12. I know a lot of guys will disagree with me, but I find the fish turn on for me in the rivers and the lake around 9-10. I catch them before that, but not with as much regularity. I do fish slower moving water in the rivers, so I think it might be more important to get there early if you are fishing deep holes in faster moving water, where the fish are a little more easily spooked. Last year in the lake around the mouths, I don't think I caught a fish before 10.

    As for the evening hours, I haven't had a lot of luck as the sun is going down. I've caught fish then, but not as many. I fish at night for them quite a bit, and once the sun goes down, they shut off. Give them an hour or so after that, and they usually turn back on. The night bite is different for me, compared to the morning/afternoon bite. It may be fast and furious for 20 minutes, and then shut off completely. Sometimes it turns on again, sometimes it doesn't. Last December, I could set my clock by the night bite..8-8:30, and 10 pm.
  13. If you can be on the Chagrin river when the water level is dropping from 300 csf to 200 cfs, time of day does not much matter; fishing will be excellent.

    If the water levels are average to low, then I would argue that sunrise is the peak time to fish. Generally I will try to arrive at the river about 1 hour before sunrise, and start fishing maybe 30 minutes before sunrise. There is usually a strong bite up to maybe 1 hour after sunrise, then things slow down a bit. If you are fishing on a weekend, you must arrive at least 30 minutes before sunrise to get a descent spot at any of the well known holes. Even if it's croweded, and the water is low, the prime holes almost always have a good bite for an hour or so at first light.

    Frozentoe - good call on the jig/maggot... I forgot to mention that one. I'd still say that fresh eggs will generally outfish the jig/maggot combo, but you raise a good point in the difficulty in obaining fresh eggs :). Though I haven't tried it much, I have seen guys do very well using minnows when the water level is low & clear. FYI - another excellent site for steelhead is There is a local baitshop from the Erie, PA area called "POOR RICHARDS" that posts daily. I've found their reports to be extremely accurate. Incidentally, you can also get fresh eggs from their baitshop.

    - Dave