you hear of Erie Pennsylvania referred to as the
heart of "steelhead Alley". There is a reason for
that. It's near by streams contain the highest
density of steelhead in the world. Pennsylvania has
committed to a continued stocking of well over 1
million steelhead smolts per year. Ohio stocks
400,000 in her waters. With these factors you have
less than 90 miles of shoreline receiving over 1 1/2
million fish. When you combine huge stocking numbers
being made within a very small area and the strong
will of the fish to come back to the exact river
where implanted. Plus the benefit of Erie's abundant
baitfish supply. You are bound to have a exceptional
The area is starting to draw worldwide attention.
Area anglers and guides alike are spoiled rotten
with the terrific fishery we have. Unbelievable
numbers of fish are available and can be caught
Pennsylvania has developed a true year round
fishery. Stream anglers can catch steelhead anytime
from Sept-May in the streams. Thanks to a well
thought out stocking program run by the state and by
cooperative groups. For breeders they collect lake
run fish returning to the stream. They take fish
eggs from fish that run in the early fall, mid
winter and late spring. These fish have offspring
that will tend to make their spawning run in the
same time frame as their parents did. The parents
are taken at random. This has resulted in a
crossbreed of several different strains of
steelhead. The Pennsylvania "Mutt" is born.
These implanted six to nine inch
smolts stay in close to the shore all summer and
easily avoid their only lake predator the Walleye.
They quickly learn to forage on the mayfly hatch and
feed on the mysis shrimp and spinney water fleas.
They grow quickly and are a 18 inch eating machine
after only six months in the lake. Now they
also can roam offshore without the fear of the
walleye. Unbelievably they grow even faster foraging
on anything they encounter. Favorite foods in
the open Lake include Emerald Shiners, Gizzard Shad,
Smelt and Gobies.
These strong tendencies of opportunistic feeding
in early life are implanted into the memory of the
fish. When they enter the streams these instincts
take over. A steelhead can survive very long periods
in a cold stream without feeding. Often our streams
contain very little in the way of forage. When the
bait or fly is properly presented these fish often
will take out of instinct.
These fish tend to be very spooky and line shy in
the shallow clear streams. Light tippets and leaders
are a must. Lost fish are common and the learning
curve can be steep. Jeff has a saying that 90% of
the people are spectators. Boastful as this might
sound there is allot of truth to it. You must be
willing to adapt to the situation at hand. Many
can't grasp this and fish the same place and method
We prefer to run and gun as I like
to call it. We chase prime water. Western Erie
offers several different stream gradients. Each
stream will clear at a different rate after a high
water period. We want to be fishing it the day it
starts to clear to get first crack at the fresh run
fish. When it is prime conditions the water takes on
a greenish color. Often we jump creek to creek each
day searching for this magic green water.
Starting to the west you have
Raccoon Creek. This is a very small watershed with a
fair run. The banks are extremely tree covered and
it can be tough to land them. It runs through flat
swampy land and takes 24-48 hours to clear after
high water. Next its Crooked Creek also a small
watershed. It receives good runs and has a
population of wild fish. It does have allot of log
jams in the river. This can make it tough to land
fish. It takes 36-72 hours for Crooked to clear.
Near Fairview Elk Creek flows into
the Lake. The Elk is world class steelhead water and
the word is out! It can be very crowded at times.
Crowding has led to property being closed on some
sections. Please respect all posted areas to help
prevent further closings. With the majority of the
stream open to fish there is no need to trespass.
There is good public access and parking in the lower
river at the mouth. If you have a 4wd there is good
access at the Conrail RR property. Please do not
park along RT 5.Don't let the crowds scare you. Most
anglers are respectful and the fish are plentiful.
Elk flows across mostly shale and starts to fish
36-48 hours after high water.
Just west of Elk near the west side
of Erie Walnut Creek flows into the lake. In its
lower sections major stream enhancements have been
made to facilitate fishermen. Huge numbers of fish
are taken in these man made holes. Crowds are heavy
always! This is where the state record fish was
taken. Twenty, thirty and forty fish days happen
here regularly. It can be elbow to elbow. Some
people love it. Most hate it. I often fish it
but never guide it unless requested. About 3/4 of a
mile from the lake the fish encounter a falls on
Walnut. This barrier proves to be difficult to
cross. Some fish always make it but most don't. It
depends allot on water levels. If fish do make it
over the falls there is some very nice water
upstream. Walnut is relatively small and almost
entirely shale bottom. It has a steep gradient. This
makes it one of the first to clear after high water.
Often it is fishable less than 24 hours after high
This western Pennsylvania steelhead
Mecca is the perfect setting for us to teach you the
fine art of catching steelhead. Often our clients
are hooked up within minutes of arriving at the
stream. With large numbers of fish present we can
spend our time learning how to make the proper
presentation. You will be able to sight fish and you
will visually learn the types of water they hold in.
(reading the water) You will be able to take this
knowledge to any stream and catch steelhead.
Lets go fishin! Don
Let's Go Fishin..!!