Steelhead Fishing
Inside the Outdoors, September 2,

Before I begin talking about the subject of the day, I wish to remind all anglers dates that one should keep in mind.

From September 6 to December 31, one is now no longer allowed to keep more than three trout of mixed species. One can catch as many has his heart desires, but harvest only three rainbow, brown, brook, and tiger, for example.


All one has to do is mention the month September, and one fish comes to mind automatically – steelhead trout. Yes, many area residents will be motoring up to the tributaries along Lake Erie to see if they can tag onto one of the most sought after water inhabitants during this time of the year.

There is something to be said about these monsters. There is definite thrill when one hooks into this fish accompanied with an adrenalin rush that instills tourists to return year after year after year.

I recall a young man from Latrobe who used to brag about his honey hole in the Loyalhanna Creek. After confiding in me not to tell anyone where it was, he would return to it daily, catching trout after trout after trout. Then he decided to make his first trip to Lake Erie to try his hand at catching steelhead trout, something he never did before.

He returned several weeks later to tell me comparatively his so called honey hole and his stream fishing in Erie bore no comparison. That one trip had made him a believer of one place only, Walnut Creek, not Loyalhanna. “You can have your hometown stream. I’m always going back up there!” Whether he did or not is yet to be known. We lost touch when he moved out of town.

So, what’s so great about fall fishing in the tributaries?

The steelhead begins to school in the lake off the creek mouths about mid-September. The fish will enter the creeks any time thereafter, if the flow in the creeks is adequate. That I what was revealed in the website

It stated, “The number of fish in the creek, particularly in the fall, is heavily dependent on the amount of rain the streams receive. If the fall is dry, the fish will get only a short distance up the larger creeks, and may not enter the smaller creeks at all. As a result, in a dry year, most of the fishing for steelhead will be right at the mouths of the creeks, in the lakes at the creek mouths or in the holes that are a short distance up and in the larger creeks.”

As the fish gather around the mouths, so do anglers. The once uninhabited areas become packed with fishermen, women and children, all hoping to catch the fish of their dreams.

There are rules that one must comply with, in addition to the noted Pennsylvania Fish and Boat regulations found in the handbook.

A lot of the streams off of lake Erie are on private property. “Contrary to popular belief,” according to the website, in Pennsylvania you can own the stream bed, and a landowner can prevent others from walking anywhere on, around, or in the creek.”

The thing to do, of course, is to ask permission if one feel’s the only place to catch fish in particular holes is by stepping over the boundaries. Maybe you could give him some of one’s catch, or do a favor of sorts for the property owner. And by all means, assure him that the land will be left as it was found, with no litter lying around.

One thing I’ve always admired about this sport is that if one wishes to produce, then he must keep quiet. But, this has other advantages, as well. If a stream is in someone’s neighborhood, the last thing a resident wants to hear is noise coming from the area where one is fishing. Do everyone a favor, keep quiet.

If one is in a neighborhood, please avoid tramping on people’s lawns. Ask oneself, how would one feel if others appeared on one’s property, making way from one point to another?

If nature calls, so to speak, make sure one is far enough out of sight of area residents that no one may create a scene. Have some respect.

This applies to an anytime, anywhere-type situation. Always be courteous.

I was fishing on the Loyalhanna Creek lately when another fisherman came over to me as he was fishing upstream. We spoke in low tones to each other more toward a whisper than loud voices. He let me fish my area and I his. He went up a piece and then returned. I gave him the opportunity of fishing my hole. A fish hit his bait almost immediately.

You know, I actually felt great about his success!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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