This March I was extremely fortunate with the opportunity to travel across the country from my home in Southern Oregon to the shores of Lake Erie in Western New York. Fly fishing guides are by nature always looking for their next adventure in the pursuit of fish, and Lake run Steelhead and Brown Trout had been high on my to-do list since meeting my friends and employers at Reel Action Fly Fishing. Each summer working on Alaska’s Kanektok River I had heard endless accounts from both fellow guides and travelling anglers of the phenomenal fishing that can take place on the tributaries of the Great Lakes. Now that my first season of Spring fishing here is coming to a close, I am pleased to say that the stories shared were indeed correct. The Great lakes are certainly nothing short of Great.
Coming from the West coast, most people will probably have a fairly set-in-stone idea of what Steelhead do and where they live while in our rivers. As well as a certain understanding and expectation of the conditions in which one can target them with any success. In the past few years I have been able to expand my knowledge in those areas through fishing and guiding at home, but the first time I ventured out to a stream here in New York I was blown away. The number of new experiences you can have fishing here
in early spring are astounding, both in terms of the actual fishing and the conditions in which you may find yourself angling in.
An example of the differences I witnessed was in the water temperatures that we were catching Steelhead in. 33-35 degree water was apparently warm enough, as I caught my first Lake Erie Steelhead on a swung Muddler Minnow variation mid morning the first day I was in town. What has been solidified in my mind here is that when fish are present, you can catch them. Even if that means adapting your standard approach to something you have never tried before.
Things that to the local fisherman are just standard day in, day out scenarios were completely new to me, and I have been loving every minute of it. One of my favorite
things to do at home is take a hike down a coastal stream, getting lost in the deep green of the forest and tumbling of the blue-green water chasing the elusive Steelhead that live there. Here, on the streams flowing into the Great Lakes you have countless options for a similar experience, as well as some urban waters that can be just down right entertaining. The biggest difference? The fishing.
Being able to fish for Steelhead, Ocean-going or Lake run, in a place where they are numerous provides endless opportunities to become a better angler. Understanding fish behavior- where they live, how they respond to different flies (color, shape, size etc.) and changing conditions- is the number one factor in being a successful angler for any species. However it can be hard to learn those things on larger western rivers that have lower concentrations of fish. Being here in New York has given me the chance to expand my knowledge of Steelhead and Trout in general like no other place has.
The end of this Spring season is here, but I look forward to making the long journey East again in the future. Guiding great people, on great water, searching for great fish, just minutes from the Great lakes has been an experience I will not soon forget and can only hope to expand upon. If you are interested in seeing this for yourself, I encourage you to contact Reel Action Fly Fishing and book a trip in the Fall or Spring. You will not be disappointed, and who knows, maybe I’ll be there too!
Enjoy a few additional pictures…