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Steelhead fishing now??? -is it ok?

Discussion in 'Northeast Ohio Fishing Reports' started by ying6, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. Hey, wanted to know what some people thought about what I have been hearing from some other guys on other sites about fishing for steelhead this time of year.
    I went out about 2 weeks ago and had a blast fishing steelhead. They were everywhere, ready and willing to hit anything I crossed infront of them. However, when I posted the results I found that many people were disgusted with me even fishing for them right now. They told me things like, fish for them in the mouth and your basically catching half dead fish.
    I haven't fished for them in the spring, I am normally extremely busy and do most of my fishing in the fall. But I couldn't believe the amount of fish in the river. - What am I to think of these guys telling me this? are these fish on their death bed? - All I can say is that is was pretty fun for both myself and my friend. We stayed way after dark and fought fish until we ran out of bait.
    - That's right bait, meaning we didn't snag fish, waited until they took it.
    thanks for the imput.
  2. Worm Drowner

    Worm Drowner Banned

    First off, I wouldn't worry what someone on another website says. Steelheading in Ohio is full of self-rightous, pompous asses. Few, if any of these fish are actually reproducing, so you're not hurting the resource. Yes, the fish may be weakened by the spawn, but if they are landed and released with care, there should be no lasting effects on them.

    The OCBS just had our last tournament of the season this past Sunday. Somehow, I think if it was particularly harmful to the fish, we would not have had it.

    Bottom line, go fishing with your buddy and have a blast! :)

  3. Dingo


    Depends on how and where you are fishing. The guys on that other site seem to lump all spring fisherman into the group of guys that sit in the middle of the shallow rapids and bombard the spawning fish. Most of those fish are snagged, or possibly aggressive males that really don't fight that great in the shallow water. I will switch to exclusively fly fishing in the spring (gives the fish a better chance, since I'm somewhat handicapped with a fly rod in hand) and target the fish that are sitting in the deeper runs below the actively spawning pairs, eating the stuff kicked up by the female digging the bed. Black stoneflies and small nymphs that look like the bugs found under rocks work quite well in these situations. Some of these fish are spawned out and tired, but many are quite strong. Some of my better fights have occurred in spring fish that were hooked blindly when fishing for smallmouth or the smaller stocked trout that the metroparks put in the upper east branch of the rocky.

    But, I will stop fishing for the trout once the water temperature starts to rise to a point where I may do damage during a normal fight. This usually occurs around the first of May or so. I have witnessed some instances where guys are catching and releasing steelies in early/mid May, only to see them appear belly up in the next hole downstream. The lake run smallmouth are starting to show up by then, so I have something else to fish for.
  4. Wait...did Dingo say "lake run smallmouth"? I haven't fished river smallies in a couple years, but I used to do well quite often (mostlylysmaller fish <14") when I lived closer to the Grand and made it up there alot.

    Is he (you) saying that during May, smallmouths run up thick in the rivers for awhile? This sounds like something I should already know, but if I am missing out, please fill me in. I would love an excuse to get off the boat and fish some of my old smallmouth holes for a weekend.
  5. Portage Lakes

    Portage Lakes OGF Member

    I can not say it better then Worm Drowner said it already. IMO he is 100% right.


  6. Not speaking for Dingo, but last spring (my first spring in NE Ohio) I fished the Grand in May and early June and caught a number of big smallies that I figured were primarily lake residents that were only in the river to spawn. The number of fish caught was good but not great, about the same as in later months and the size of the average fish was also about the same as in later months; but the size of the biggest fish was much better during May and June. I caught a few real bruisers including 3 of my 5 largest Ohio smallies of all time last year out of the Grand in May and June and I've fished for smallies in a lot of the better smallmouth rivers in Ohio. After early June the numbers of fish caught remained the same but the biggest fish caught were much smaller than those caught in May through early June. The best part was, very few people out there fishing even on weekends ;) .

  7. Dingo


    Yep. You read it right. The smallies run during may and june, and go a bit farther upstream than one might expect. I have been taking advantage of this 'run' since the 1970s, with some years better than others. The success of the run seems to be better when a lot of shad are in the river (2 years ago). Last year's run wasn't the greatest for me, but I didn't see the large 'balls' of shad as seen in a typical spring.

    During this period, is isn't unusual to see 20"+ smallies from the river. Once the channel cats start their runs (mid-June or so), the big smallies start to disappear. I fish the rocky and sometimes vermilion since it's close to home. I have heard (and had some success) that the grand receives a stronger run than the rocky.

    I normally use tubes or shad imitators for the smalles. My personal favorite is casting a shad colored pop-r to balls of shad in the early morning or late evening.