Here is an early arrival on August, 25th:
In a few weeks, we will shift from summer to fall, but that does not mark the beginning of the Steelhead run. No, that takes place when the water flow and temperatures are right, and we are a long way from that point.
Before entering the streams to spawn, Steelhead slowly migrate from Lake Erie’s cold deep waters to staging areas near the mouths of tributaries that empty into the lake; and the timing of this step largely depends on water temperature. Because the places I fish are along the southern shore, a stiff north wind for an extended period of time will push schools of trout close to shore, but they seldom stay in the shallows for long if the water is too warm.
Charter boats will focus on Steelhead as the summer walleye and perch bite starts to wane. When you see boats trolling close to shore in September, the Steelhead are getting close, and you can expect some sporadic catches at night and early morning at the stream mouths.
When I was younger, I pulled many an “all-nighter” on the pier. Were those trips productive? Not really, but they sure made waiting for the fall run a lot easier.
I was in Erie last weekend for a scheduled walleye trip with Something Catchy Charters. Captain Brian Mills did a great job; and even though we fished on the backside of a late summer cold front, we caught walleye. The man hates to get “skunked.”
As that cold front passed through, it dropped day and nighttime temperatures by nearly 20 degrees. The accompanying northwest wind was followed the next day by a stiff north breeze, and those winds churned the lake.
During the weekend, you could feel “fall” bumping up against “summer” and trying to take over. It didn’t last for long, and within a few days the air temperature was back into the mid 80’s.
While I was at the Walnut Creek Marina waiting for my trip to “troll up” a few walleyes, I noticed a guy fishing at the head of the channel leading from the marina to the lake. He hooked a fish and my attention, so I grabbed the camera and walked over.
From 50 yards away, I could tell from the way the fish fought he had hooked a Steelhead. His long rod was doubled over and every time he gained some line; the fish would make a quick run and force him to drop his rod tip toward the fish to give line, and avoid losing the battle. You could tell the guy had done this before, and that the fish was as good as caught.
Dan McClain, a local angler from Mill Creek, was nice enough to let me get some pictures before releasing the fish.
You can view the story and a video of the catch at: http://www.storytrax.com/node/958
I also did a story on the walleye trip too: http://www.storytrax.com/node/955