Fish commission: Fall is time to target steelhead

Recent rains in northwest Pennsylvania have raised water levels in Lake Erie’s tributary streams, luring anxious anglers eager for a shot at catching an elusive steelhead during their annual spawning runs.

And, now through December, anglers can purchase select fishing licenses for 50 percent off, under special pricing offered by the state Fish and Boat Commission.

“Labeled as ‘silver shadows,’ ‘chromers’ or ‘silver bullets,’ steelhead are some of the most respected and hard-to-find fish you will ever chase,” said commission Executive Director John Arway. “Known for their strength, acrobatics and survival, these fish provide an experience like no other. Steelhead fishing is an experience all anglers should place on their list of things to do.”

During October through April, steelhead travel from the depths of Lake Erie to spawn in nearby tributary streams. The average adult weighs 6 to 11 pounds and measures 24 inches.

The commission estimates that nearly a quarter-million steelhead fishing trips are made to the area every year, generating more than $9.5 million in economic activity for the community.

“Anglers travel to these cold waters to get the feel of the season’s first strike,” Arway added. “This hooks many for life and sends reels screaming, hearts racing and trout dancing across the water, luring anglers time and time again.”

The 50-percent discount applies to resident, non-resident and senior resident licenses and is valid through Dec. 31.

Anglers still must purchase trout and Lake Erie permits.

“This is a great opportunity for anglers who haven’t purchased a license yet, but still want to fish Erie’s famous ‘steelhead alley’ this year,” Arway said.

Anglers can target steelhead on more than a dozen tributary streams with miles of public access. The commission’s interactive maps provide key information to access the areas, including GPS coordinates and parking.

Visitors to the agency’s popular Walnut Creek Marina should be aware that it is under construction and the area from the entrance to Lake Erie to the large parking area is closed to fishing.

It is expected to reopen on Thanksgiving. However, anglers can fish the creek along the parking lot and upstream.

For more information about fishing for steelhead, visit the commission’s website at www.fishandboat.com/Fish/ PennsylvaniaFishes/Pages/Steelhead. aspx.

For water conditions reported by anglers, visit www.fisherie.com/fishing-reports.

The commission has been managing the steelhead fishery on Lake Erie for more than 40 years, stocking over a million juvenile steelhead each year.

The agency continually works on improving access to Lake Erie tributaries through property acquisitions and easements using angler funds acquired through the Erie permit and Erie/trout/salmon combo permit.

The agency also makes funds available for property acquisitions and easements through the Erie Access Improvement Grant Program.