It’s Springtime-Playtime for Chautauqua Steelhead!

Category: article

 Mar 17th, 2022 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Mar 17th, 2022 at 9:20 PM

It’s Springtime-Playtime for Chautauqua Steelhead!

The “Winter-Melt” is a good time for anglers to discover Fish-Catching Fun

Chautauqua, New York – Mar. 17, 2022: The Chautauqua Region in the southwest corner of New York State has earned a well-deserved reputation for unforgettable angler fun with shore access to springtime fishing. Chautauqua County provides angler access to five creeks that flow from the snow-capped hills descending through lakeshore level vineyards to finish their flow into Lake Erie. These tributaries have become well-known as “Steelhead Alley” in Chautauqua County, New York.

Among these are Chautauqua Creek in Westfield, Canadaway Creek in Dunkirk, Silver Creek, Walnut Creek, and Cattaraugus Creek in Irving. When water is flowing high during the height of springtime melt, many tiny tributaries along the more significant creek flows offer additional angler entrees to giant fish.

There are designated public parking areas to provide easy access for anglers and families. Among these, newcomers to Chautauqua County should consider visiting the Chautauqua Creek public parking area at Route 5 in Westfield, just south of the Route 394 intersection. It’s an excellent place to meet up with other anglers that are often willing to discuss methods and memorable moments they have experienced along “Steelhead Alley.” Shared secrets are among mindful resources to be found here. A short walk downstream will offer a full view of the stream entering Lake Erie; a walk upstream will reveal riffles, pockets, and resting pools.

Fetch your chest-high waders, fishing rod, thermos bottle, and camera. Dress warm, don’t forget your Merino wool wader socks, hand-warmer, and the fish will help take care of the rest. Stream steelhead and brown trout abound in good numbers from right now through the end of April or so, and it’s a fun time to be an angler fishing in the Chautauqua County tributary streams. Anglers find the largest number of steelhead to be 20-24 inches in length, but fish to 30-inches are not uncommon. Though many conservation-minded anglers release their fish, regulations permit a 3-fish daily harvest (12-inch minimum). Steelhead can live for several decades. For rules, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7917.html.

Anglers test their fishing skills with fly rods or open-face spinning gear. Many spin-fishermen cast small spinners and spoons, others simply drift egg sacs on a bobber. Both methods work well. Spinning rods in seven to nine-foot length with 10-pound test mono, add a light fluorocarbon leader for invisibility to the lure or bait. Fly fishermen use streamer flies, salmon egg fly patterns, wooly buggers, and egg-sucking leech patterns. On the right days, stoneflies and hare’s ear nymphs are hard to beat. Modernized anglers opt to use a center-pin rod-reel rig with a long fluorocarbon leader backed onto a 20-pound braid. Center pin rods can be quite long at 11 to 14 feet.

For spinning rod anglers that are casters more than drifters, Barcelona Harbor and Dunkirk Harbor offer excellent early-season fun, no waders required. Just simple cast and catch fun, but you might need a long-handled net if you fish from the breakwall section.

Maps: For a color map of Chautauqua Creek angler parking spaces and angler access areas, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/chautauquacreek.pdf. For a color map of Canadaway Creek from Lake Erie to Laona Falls, https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/canadawaycreek.pdf.

Fish Reports: NYSDEC Lake Erie/WNY Fishing Hotline: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9217.html. Bill’s Hooks (near Canadaway Creek), 5139 W. Lake Rd. (Route 5), Dunkirk, NY, 716-366-0268, www.billshooks.com; Jerome Miller’s Bait (near Cattaraugus Creek), 12707 Allegany Rd., Irving, NY, 716-934-2477; Chautauqua Reel Outdoors (near Chautauqua Lake), 165 W. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood, NY, 716-763-2947; Captain Bob’s (general info), 10295 Main St. #6, Clarence, NY, 716-407-3021, http://captainbobsfishingtackle.com/; Anglers can purchase local flies, lures, egg sacs, and get the latest face-to-face angler reports at the bait shops.

Stream Guides: Julie Szur, Orvis-endorsed, 716-481-6619, [email protected], https://www.flyfishingjulieszur.com/; Alberto Rey, Orvis-endorsed, 716-410-7003, www.albertorey.com; Marty Kleeman, 716-410-3720, [email protected], http://www.canadawaycreekoutfitters.com/;

Lodging: For any fishing trip outings, consider spending the weekend at a bed and breakfast, and bring the family. Visit http://www.tourchautauqua.com/where_to_stay.aspx.

More like this