If fly fishing for Steelhead is something you can't resist then we would suggest heading over to one of our sister states - Pennsylvania right now. Things have been quiet on most of the local rivers here in Michigan, with anglers working very hard and being skunked or rewarded with a fish as a result. The Pere Marquette is running low and clear, and the conditions for "the" fall Steelhead run on the other rivers like the Big Manistee, Muskegon and Betsie have not been much better this week. Rain is the key ingredient needed right now and we only got a trickle of it.
The Elk Creek and Walnut Creek, on the other hand,? received some much needed rain this last weekend that really seemed to stir up the activity. Reports of fresh fall Steelhead,? that are eagerly taking offerings,? are coming in strong.? The water level drops quickly on many of these streams and may change the conditions fast. Most of the leaves have fallen already and the rivers are clearing up. Steelhead Alley, as coined by Rick Kustich author of Great Lakes Steelhead,??is made up by about 40 rivers in three different states. Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
What makes this Steelhead Alley? Well to start all three have watersheds that flow into Lake Erie. Each of these states has an aggressive Steelhead hatchery program that plants? literally millions of fingerlings a year. While there is natural reproduction on about 10 of those rivers, most of the fish are of the hatchery variety. This is a very pouplar "put and take" fishery. With probably more Steelhead than any other place you can fish.
Elk Creek is located close to the border of Ohio, in Pennsylvania. Plenty of access is available on Elk creek and it shows. Expect crowds when things get hot. Walnut creek is closer to Erie, PA and offers anglers similar conditions to the Elk.
So if there is no Deer hunt in your coming weeks itinerary, you might consider hitting Steelhead Alley as this seems to be the best bet for getting that Steelhead "Fix" right now.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Trout and Salmon info
Maps of the Elk and other streams?are available at this?FishUSA web site??http://www.fishusa.com/FishErie/Map4.asp?
Quite a few books are available in the FMO Store related to this subject that really get into the details of this fantastic fishery. Examples;
Steelhead Dreams: The Theory, Method, Science and Madness of Great Lakes Steelhead Fly Fishing
by: Matt Supinski, Matt Supinkski
01 December, 2001
Steelhead: Fly Fishing
by: Trey Combs, Loren Smith
Steelhead Guide : Fly Fishing Techniques and Strategies for Lake Erie Steelhead (second edition)
by: John Nagy, Jeff Wynn
01 April, 2000
Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead - An Advanced Look at an Emerging Fishery
by: Rick Kustich, Jerry Kustich, Al Hassall, Shawn Smith
20 November, 1999
Shrimp & Spey Flies for Salmon & Steelhead
by: Chris Mann, Robert Gillespie
01 January, 2002
Fly Fishing for Salmon and Steelhead of the Great Lakes
by: Kenn Filkins