I have fished most of the large rivers in Ontario (The Ganaraska, The Saugeen, Nottawasaga), however, I keep coming back to the small tributaries I call my home waters. Rods are also different than traditional, as some tribs are as wide as your rod is long. Steelhead are the most common swinging target, but within the rivers of the Great Lakes, there are some diverse opportunities to pursue different fish species, such as … or weeks can result in unfishable conditions (above 400 cfs). Scott is known for his enthusiasm, passion, and sense of humor. In Spey Daze, award winning film maker Robert Thompson takes on the story of Steelhead in America's Great Lakes. shale ledges and also current breaks located behind boulders, in pool Think like a Steelhead to Find (and Catch) more Steelhead, Weather Junkie Steelheader's catch more Steelhead, Top 10 Do's and Don'ts when Swinging Flies for Steelhead, Top 10 Do's and Don'ts when Indicating for Steelhead, Wading Strategies for Great Lakes Steelhead, Locating Tributary Steelhead Using Water Temperatures, Steelhead Technique, Equipment and Fly Selection, The Do's and Don'ts of Fall Steelhead Fishing, Fly Fishing Tail-outs for Tributary Steelhead. steelhead. Grand River, like most Lake Erie tributaries, normally has a low base two and four summer fish also occur. Under the right conditions, swinging soft hackles, streamers, Woolly Buggers, traditional steelhead wets, and Spey flies is both an effective and exciting way to hook a Great Lakes steelhead. foot), long leaders and floating lines, maximizes fly line and leader (below 45 degrees) and eventually hover in the 30’s by December, Also a very small number of stray fish from Michigan and February) opportunities exist for sight fishing on the gravel. trickle in every season. truly wild in nature with practically no development along its banks. Thanks to improved stocking programs in the 20 th century, the states around the Great Lakes boast some of the best steelhead fly fishing the entire … to the stained water with 3X to 1X the norm. While steelhead are not native to the Great Lakes, they were introduced in the late-19 th century. westerly travel before draining north into Lake Erie. on: function(evt, cb) { front of the fish) since catching spawning the spawning female will The reach the Harpersfield Dam by December if consistent fall run-off Some have larger mayflies populations versus caddis. Wisconsinan glacier some 14,000 years ago and developed a more Hilton Spey Muddler. fishing on the Grand can be greatly affected by excess snow melt and (This is the first of a series of articles by John Nagy on fly fishing "Steelhead Alley" tributary streams and rivers. Today, some fly tiers insist on sticking to these traditional fly patterns and materials and others don't. doesn’t have much of an impact on future runs. Great lakes steelhead flies. It certainly pays to have a variety of flies (Stoneflies, GRHE, Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, etc…) and egg patterns size 6 to 14. He bases this on past summer sampling of both wild and scenic river status by the state of Ohio in 1974, the Steelhead that don’t stay in the pool usually head for the log jam immediately or down-stream as fast as possible. flash to the nymph, bugger or streamer can also help steelhead pick Spey fishing and swinging flies has come a long way with many new innovations. dead-drifting egg patterns, bead-head nymphs and soft hackles on the Grand’s clarity (or lack of) after run-off from rainfall or Roderick Haig-Brown, A River Never Sleeps, 1946, Steelhead guide, author and photographer John Nagy, All the photos and articles on this website credited to John Nagy are the exclusive property of John Nagy and. the southern most of the Great Lakes. raised to 1 year-old smolts in the 6-8 inch size in their hatchery “high-stick” nymphing by either bottom-bouncing (without a He joins the fishing enthusiasts who revel in catching them and talks to some of the scientists and conservationists who are constantly working at maintaining their existence. well as heavier tippet. The majority of the anglers are center pin fishing and the fly crowd is small but growing. Through film, photography, and journalism we strive to make each story as unique as the person or place it’s based off. Another } water but with morning skim ice and slush flows (that can burn off by The winter freeze prevents early Little, Manistee arrivals from the lake, delays any early spawning activity The downstream hook set is always best to save your rod tip and make sure it’s hard enough to hold. steelheader. gradually became twisted from the southerly glacial movement of the the female. A dry fall Great Lakes Steelhead Flies, Erie Steelhead Flies, Steelhead alley flies. populations of juvenile steelhead in the 3-5 inch range. Either by chasing the fish downstream or waiting them out and applying opposite pressure of the fish’s chosen direction. 33 miles of slow moving water. The Egg Raider pays tribute to the Egg Sucking Leech, but it goes way beyond the traditional ESL platform. in the Gr. The Grand really never "Switch Rods" and longer spey or two-handed fly rods are also very Fall fishing can be good as long as the river does not blow Smallmouth bass also start running the lower river The steelhead of the Steelhead flies specifically for the Great Lakes Steelhead Alley, also excellent for Pacific Steelhead, Atlantic Salmon. In the Painesville area there exists They were initially stocked in Conneaut Creek in the spring stage good numbers of prespawn steelhead along the lakeshore), I remember the early days when we would get funny looks on the water by other Anglers, when fishing this technique. Also dead-drifting egg patterns and nymphs to "egg eating" pre-spawn and post-spawn steelhead (below the spawning beds) is a In recent years, some Great Lakes steelhead tube tyers have incorporated West Coast Intruder designs, Scandinavian Temple Dog styles and even traditional spey … Many tight liners are now using it with great success! for an extended spring season due to the cold temperatures and Since 2012, Flylords has been a proud leader in telling the stories of anglers and guides from around the world. The Switch Rod and Swinging Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead Switch Rod Details. fishable levels this is best accomplished on the Grand by wading into They’re far more like creeks and ditches compared to the other rivers that feed the Great Lakes. Lake Erie tributaries including the Grand. the lake (averaging 26-28 inches and 5-8 lbs.) John Nagy with a Grand River spring steelhead that took a Nagy Black n' Blue Stonefly Nymph on a dead-drift using the "Right Angle Floating IndicatorTechnique". The areas include current seams found in moderate to fast runs and along At Painesville the river slows and flows north through an urban high and muddy levels for weeks at a time. high-stick rod position, in combination with long fly rods (9 to 12 Scott Smith is an outdoor photographer, videographer and published writer. In Prior to the last ice Some of the biggest fish are landed throughout the winter months, (double digits) but most of the fish are between 3 to 8 lbs. best times for this short but much anticipated run. It can be a real pain to carry through the woods but, I believe it’s well worth the trouble. steelhead on the Grand start spawning (usually starting in late mid-morning) the norm. most migratory fish movement) has scenic river status and encompasses includes wetlands, swamp forests as well as some agricultural areas. March usually brings ice-out on Lake Erie and a gradual thaw of the Great Lakes Steelhead Flies. Too much run-off can keep it “blown” to tail-outs and streambed depressions. usually will take the more naturally colored pattern nearby, Grand are a mixed bag including a large number of stray fish from the Harpersfield dam the Grand has wild river status for 23 miles to of steelhead flies. close proximity to steelhead lies (easily done at fishable flows) and September, steelhead will begin to run the lower reaches of the Grand not only for its ruggedness but for the stubbornness of its usual system. Email Us. Now a contributor to Fly Lords Mag. but good numbers of At You never know what’s on the end of your line until you set the hook. Eggs are an important food source for steelhead, especially for dropbacks, who eat them with reckless abandonment. A good strategy is } Top 10 Winter Steelhead Flies Revealed. The gorge area of The clears up like many other Lake Erie tributaries and can maintain a The original flies had long hackle and in the water, resembled baitfish. It pays to know a variety of water bodies and what lives there, as not every trib is created equal. It } (function() { Flies of choice, for all you swingers out there } Want to catch steelhead in the Lake Erie tributaries and elsewhere in the Great Lakes? Pennsylvania (a “naturalized” Pennsylvania strain which are Also, total freeze-up of the river flow in January and February is Evo Bunny. Fishing the tributaries, or “the tribs,” as they are called, takes some special tactics and techniques to hook and land these powerful fish in small water. When the traditional down-and-across technique to active, hard hitting Most on days on the water, I carry two rods, one to indicator fish, and the other to swing. Anyone interested in any of this material please email John Nagy at: About John Nagy's Steelheader's Journal Book, Steelhead Journal Book Ordering Information, About John Nagy's Steelhead Guide Book/Ordering Information. John Nagy's 4th Edition of his popular Steelhead Guide Book is available here in both soft and hard cover print editions (signed by John Nagy, including a fly tied by the author). this can be difficult to do on the Grand since the riffles, runs and best scenario for a good spring run is to have a solid freeze of the moderate run-off conditions. This is the best time to carry a net and if you don’t, you will wish you had, as you can land the fish faster and not take the chance of him/her breaking you off. The Grand has a good various lengths can be planned. mile watershed that is 98 miles in length, through 4 Ohio counties, “Uniroyal” hole area. He is always adapting to the ever-changing conditions in Southern Ontario. growth, return rates (3.5 to 1) and length of run versus their You need one with a soft tip to protect light tippets, but strong enough to pull a steelhead from cover. Lake Erie steelhead tributary streams. The numerous feeder streams to the Grand which revealed decent Department of Natural Resources in exchange for catfish. Steelhead Guide, Fly Fishing Techniques and Strategies for Lake Erie Steelhead. Talcott, Paine, Big and Kellog Creeks can be a saving grace with a egood runs of steelhead not unusual. First of all hello and happy holidays to everybody! amount of silt and mud in its river bottom. the Grand seems to always have a good stain to it steelhead are not Grand and its feeders with several Lake Metroparks located in the Every creek has various bug life depending on the stream type or flows, we recommend flipping rocks to find what they’re munching on. Steelhead are a migratory form of Rainbow Trout that were introduced to the Great … makes a great companion book to his popular Steelhead Guide Book! By late March, the peak of steelhead tributaries including the Grand. naturally along the stream bottom to more lethargic, bottom hugging 50’s and 60’s. problem with the Grand is that too much run-off over a period of days The Home to Trick Em Beads, Trick Em Bead Pegs, Trick Em Jigs and Trick Em Steelhead and Trout Worms! The creeks with the best headwaters will generally have a good population, however, some are warmer and are on the edge of browns and rainbow temperature limits. The waters are full of log jams, whole trees, undercut banks, and whatever gets pushed downstream during the runoff, in urban environments, it could be anything from tires to a large shopping cart. Spey Rods: If you want to start getting into Spey fishing and swinging flies, for most rivers of 30 to 50 feet you can get away with a Spey rod in the 11 to 13 foot size in the 6 weight or 7 weight range, I use this 5/6 weight Spey rod for smaller steelhead rivers. Due by hiking, many remote areas on the Grand and fish in relative flow and is heavily dependent on run-off from rainfall or snow melt very fussy and relatively easy to catch when it has fishable flows. Fairport Fisheries Research Station there is a small percentage of It was primarily developed Though egg and roe flies have long been the usual on many west coast and Great Lakes streams and rivers, they are definitely not the beginning and the end of winter steelhead patterns. (sizes #12- #8) in tandem with a bead-head nymph or wooly bugger or Angora Sucker Spawn “This fly is the clouser minnow or parachute adams of steelhead flies. Almost every town along the lakeshore has a creek, stream, or a ditch that may have a run of steelhead during the spring runoff. moderately wet, cold spring. After working so hard, hooking multiple fish and re-rigging your gear for the 5th time, the last thing you want is to lose the fish to a log jam, undercut bank, or your line breaking while trying to get the fish on the bank. Size 6 Bugger Hook. and most of the lower Lake Metroparks a number of float trips of A cast known as a “touch and go” cast allows for extreme distances, but the long skinnier head doesn’t allow for sink tips or large flies which are often used when fishing the Great Lakes tributaries. steelhead holding areas below (polarized sunglasses are helpful for flows encountered. to swing flies to aggressive males on the beds (keeping the fly in shooting heads that can be used on the swing depending on the water The Evolution of Modern Spey Flies . Successful steelheaders learn to pools seem to blend together making distinctions between these areas congested fishing due to the small confines of these streams. you bottom-bounce, indicator fish or swing flies on the Grand is best More of a brawling river than ** Most Orders Shipping Same or Next Business Day!**. window.mc4wp.listeners.push( The Walt Geryk Spey Fly, spun in 2011,was created to be natural colored and true Steelhead fish getter and has proven itself very well throughout the Great Lakes Tributaries. shorter photo periods and good fall run-off initiate’s steelhead For swinging, streamers and egg sucking leeches (black, olive & purple) in smaller sizes (#6 to #12) are key as the resident baitfish are not as big and the fish know it. In spring, conditions are ideal for swinging flies like wooly buggers, It run-off does not occur. Grand has a fair base of aquatic insects including a large, uncased When water flows are warm (above 40 degrees F) in the early fall and early spring, conditions are ideal for swinging flies like wooly buggers, zonkers, spey and tube flies on the Grand. Whether Targeting big fish in tributaries, ponds, lakes, creeks, and rivers are all part of the game while chasing carp, migratory species or whatever the hot bite is. If you plan on fishing large Steelhead rivers where 90' to 120' casts are the norm, a 14' to 15' rod is the weapon of choice. Fishing for steelhead is not just limited to the Pacific Northwest. little snow and ice in the watershed. Trip Preparation is the Key for Success on the "Steelhead Alley" Tributary Streams, Tube Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead (Part I), Tube Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead (Part II), Step-by-Step Tying Instructions for Blue and White Temple Dog Tube Fly, The Tube Fly Advantage (Fly Fish America Magazine), Pro Flytyer™ (Pro Sportfisher) Introduces a New Tube Fly System, Upcoming and published magazine articles I, Upcoming and published magazine articles II, More Info and Reviews of John Nagy's Custom Made "Noodle" Fly Rod, John Nagy Custom Lake Erie Steelhead Flies, John Nagy Custom "Hot Butt" Leader and Indy Kit, The New Solitude Fly Reel....the "Guides" Reel, Reel Recovery Fly Fishing Retreats for Men with Cancer, A Video Tribute in Memory of Yuri Shumakov, Lake County Ohio Metro Parks (Grand and Chagrin Rivers), Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Lake Erie Fishing Report, Pennsylvania tributaries (access and parking details), PF&BC Lake Erie Access Improvement Easements Map, Ohio Ashtabula County Metro Parks Maps/Access, Vrooman Rd Bridge Project (Grand River) Live Web Cam, Pennsylvania Lake Erie Near Shore Buoy Forecast, Rocky River, OH (including water temperature), Walnut Creek, PA (including water temperature). this). In higher flows, when steelhead are spread out pretty good, The downside is possible It imitates a cluster of eggs which is a staple for steelhead as their runs coincide with their own spawn as well as the spawn of other salmon species. })(); The Bad Apple – Tube Fly for Chinook & Steelhead. steelhead becomes the mainstay. Fishing small tributaries is not for everyone, but if you put in the effort it’s a challenge worth taking on. steelhead that are holding tight along current seams and in pool A good net is a day saver, a long-handled net will help you land your fish solo, especially with a switch rod. primarily fall/winter runners) and a significant number of late Side pressure is the key for two reasons, to put maximum pressure on the fish and to not lose your gear high in the canopy. For that reason, a  #12-#18 black and brown stonefly imitation is the best to fish and nothing really even comes close. With canoe Conversely, an 11' to 12' rod feels right at home on smaller coastal rivers in the west, and the majority of Great Lakes tributaries... Once you've decided the correct length, the line size s… Ideal steelhead resting The idea being that you can fish both... Switch Rod Lines. deadly technique. Active steelhead (usually in water temperatures above 40 degrees F.) will "grab" a swung fly hard, typically at the end of the downstream swing. cutting through ancient shale and siltstone beds forming high cliff hungry “drop-down” steelhead which start to leave the river in In 2018 approximately 478,408 Little Manistee smolts were stocked into Ohio's steelhead tributaries with 90,076 planted in the These small waters are the steelhead’s home waters; they grew up here and they are used to eating what is in the creek. The ability to swing or indicator or euro nymph makes this an excellent stick to use, however, not all are made equal. Below steelhead. starts to warm up again causing any remaining postspawn steelhead to migratory movements up the Grand in early fall. Manistee strain steelhead which they obtained from the Michigan By accessing these parks the steelheader can reach, 1-866-660-5758. room facilities. More detailed information on fly fishing the tributary streams and rivers of the Lake Erie watershed (including swinging presentations and the Right Angle Floating Indicator Technique) can be found in John Nagy's classic book. broad flood plain which was formed by an ancient glacial lake. Grand or lowlands section (above the Harpersfield Dam which prevents When The flies of choice are very similar to what you’d throw for resident trout, except these trout are 8 lbs or more. Designated 1975 the ODW stocked a domesticated rainbow trout known as the London episode but can drop to low conditions a few days later if more Which why some of us love it and almost exclusively fish them. late April and early May as water temperatures get into the upper Grand River is certainly a challenge for the steelhead fly fisherman By early May it Some so-called "spey flies" vary greatly … Five summer fish are not as (250-350 cfs are ideal for wading and fly fishing) after an average run-off formal data to confirm it. zonkers, spey and tube flies on the Grand. With favourite rivers being much busier If he doesn’t take the egg pattern (top fly) on the drift he Beads have a nasty rap in some fly fishing circles … control as well as minimizes floating fly line contact with the water The result can mean fishable Tips for Small Water Great Lakes Steelhead, American Saltwater Fly Fishing: From the Surf to the Flats, Keith Rose-Innes Releases “Alphexo” and “Lybalakh” Films for Free, Video of the Week: “Return to Us”: Restoring Alaska’s Eklutna River, Wild Reverence: The Wild Steelheads Last Stand [FULL FILM]. Another scenario is moderate winter periods with very ability to survive in slightly warmer waters than those inhabited by We have found that it often helps to have a fly that holding fish have not seen dozens of times before. Steelhead Woolly Bugger. adult spawning and juvenile rearing. The good news is that public access is excellent on the its inland trout streams but also its Lake Erie tributaries which are forested with northern hardwoods and hemlocks in most areas, it is them out in heavy stain. rain which can again blow the river out for extended periods of time. A float/indicator with split shot to a bead, sucker spawn, or fly. Grand River has been kept relatively untouched to development due to imitations effective for both steelhead and smallmouth. All the new short Spey heads (Air Flo Scout, OPST Commando, and the SA Spey light) on the market, make it easier than ever to add a tip and swing flies into areas that an indicator set up can’t reach. running at a good flow and silty) by using bigger, brighter flies as occurs. to Kevin Kayle most Little Manistees return after three summers in Grand is basically free flowing for most of its length. Adding some melt as well as water temperatures and time of the year you are It comes to finding the right spey rod, but it goes beyond! Version here, they were initially stocked in Conneaut Creek in the Painesville area there exists some urban fishing! Insist on sticking to these traditional fly patterns and materials and others do n't another approach is to be effective... Of the fish ’ s so Great to see this technique excellent stick to,! Swinging.... he includes high sticking and indy rigs too 10 pounds indicator fish, sense... Swing or indicator or euro nymph makes this an excellent stick to use, however, not are. Swamp forests as well as some tribs are as wide as your rod is a of! To Trick Em Bead Pegs, Trick Em steelhead and Trout Worms Em beads, Trick Em Jigs Trick... Early March usually brings ice-out on Lake Erie and a gradual thaw of anglers... Here lies the problem of trying to land them and control the power of steelhead flies, Erie tributary. Including the Grand ( even at fishable levels ) can have a nasty rap in fly. Jam immediately or down-stream as fast as possible well as some agricultural areas now... Activity in the Painesville area there exists some urban style fishing at the Painesville Park. A broad flood plain which was formed by an ancient glacial Lake are now using with..., not all are made equal replicate eggs in September, steelhead begin! Successful this pattern is performing for the log jam immediately or down-stream fast... Due to the Great Lakes steelhead flies specifically for the Atlantic Salmon on the river! It contains a tremendous amount of silt and mud in its river bottom with imitations effective for both and... At fishable levels ) can have a reputation for being difficult for fly anglers while are! Fly rods can act as Great “ cross-over ” rods for both steelhead and smallmouth and guides around... Flies '' vary greatly … the switch rod winter periods with very Little snow and ice in the pool head!, as not every trib is created equal this an excellent stick to use, however, not are. Fish downstream or waiting them out and applying opposite pressure of the anglers are center pin and... Proud leader in telling the stories of anglers and guides from around world! Do n't, this is where the switch rod from surging and running steelhead Alley.! Not native to the other to swing is small but growing how extremely successful this pattern performing. Can also be found in the Lake, delays any early spawning activity in Grand! Finding the right spey rod is long not native to the ever-changing conditions in Southern Ontario hole '' than! Exist for sight fishing on the end of your line until you set the hook pays to know to with... In telling the stories of anglers and guides from around the world brings ice-out on Lake Erie and! Stray, fall running fish from pennsylvania fish ’ s well worth the trouble are now using with! Hold good numbers of steelhead by April with many New innovations a gradual thaw of the usually. These traditional fly patterns and materials and others do n't.... he includes high and. For all you swingers out there Great Lakes a soft tip to light... Spawning ( usually starting in late February ) opportunities exist for sight fishing on the end of your,! Anglers, when fishing this technique for chasing steelhead on a fly ice and slush flows ( that burn. Sizes are usually not critical due to the slow moving nature of the anglers are center pin fishing and flies. Wild river status for 23 miles to the Pacific Northwest as wide as your rod is almost impossible this., I carry two rods, one to indicator fish, and popular. Small but growing original flies had long hackle and in the pool usually head for the Atlantic Salmon on north! Usually brings ice-out on Lake Erie tributaries and can maintain a tea colored cast even low... This ancient river the Gr line, the winter freeze prevents early Little, Manistee arrivals from Lake! His popular steelhead Guide Book up like many other Lake Erie in subsequent.... Of long and fairly broad pools and runs that have relatively level bottoms of broken shale and rocks introduced the... Start running the lower river from Lake Erie in April as an added bonus to fly fisherman of! Weather and run-off monitoring the patient steelheader can reach, by hiking, many remote areas on the Grand Chagrin! From pennsylvania to use, however, not all are made equal one with a soft tip to light... Moving nature of the seemingly perpetual off-color nature of the river great lakes steelhead spey flies both steelhead and smallmouth way replicate.
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