Wildwood Outfitters Blog and Fishing Report
Without a doubt the question that we get asked more than anything else is, "when is the best time to go on a steelhead trip?" Each year varies a bit depending on the weather, but there is usually a ballpark answer that stays about the same regardless of those other factors. There are also things to consider aside from the weather, like hunting seasons and holidays that might impact angler pressure on the tribs. As these fish start to show up each fall, there's a race to get up there and shake the dust off the 7-weight, but there are great rewards for those who exhibit some patience and use their vacation days later in the year!
It's no secret that Erie weather is somewhat brutal during the winter months, and it makes sense that many anglers want to take advantage of the early season periods when it's warm and not snowing. However that surge of competition often leads to situations where there are more people than fish and the steelhead that are there find themselves surrounded (quite literally) by those trying to catch them. That's one of the main reasons our trips start later in the year: the ability to spread out and hopefully avoid some of the crowds that have become synonymous with Lake Erie steelheading. While it's rarely devoid of pressure, the weather turning and the arrival of the PA hunting season curbs the crowds a bit making late November, December, and January a great time to be on the streams!
There's also the matter of fish in each drainage at a given time of the year. Reports are already trickling in of fish entering the tribs, and while that's true, their peak numbers won't hit until a month or two from now. At Wildwood Outfitters we aim to give our guests the best experience possible, and a healthy number of fish to target is the first step in achieving that. Steelhead are different from trout in that they are a migratory fish that's either there...or not. While that might seem obvious, it's critical in timing up your trip. A steelhead trip in September might yield a few fish, but there will be thousands more in the tribs come December. With each passing rain (and the short photoperiod of winter) steelhead move further upstream, and when their numbers are at their peak they also inhabit the most miles of stream. That's the sweet spot we look for and it's why later in the year offers up some of the best steelhead action of the season!
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