If you think the winter months are only for ice fishing rods, you might need to reconsider. Angler surveys regularly conducted on New York’s Lake Erie tributaries typically show that the highest catch rates for steelhead occur during the winter months.
Coincidentally, this is also when the lowest angler effort also occurs. This is especially true during mild winters, such as the one we are currently experiencing. At this time of year, any periods of warmer weather that increase the stream’s water temperature, especially during February, bring in the biggest fresh runs of steelhead of the year.
As always, stream conditions are critical for success, and anglers can look online at the U.S. Geological Survey water gauges for all the major Lake Erie tributaries, or visit DEC’s Lake Erie Fishing Hotline for weekly updates on the steelhead fishery.
So, the next time we get that mid-winter thaw, you might want to think about exchanging that ice fishing rod for your steelhead rod – it might just be the best steelhead trip of the entire year!