Posted: 4/10/2018 11:31:22 AM By: Dave Barus
Chautauqua County “Steelhead Alley”
BRING A CAMERA! gin:0px">6 Chautauqua Lake Erie Trib’s, Easy Access, Fish'n Fun
Chautauqua, New York – Mar. 16, 2018: Anglers from near and far identify that Chautauqua County is the cornerstone of a fishing zone nationally known as “Steelhead Alley.” From the onset of winter (October) through spring (May), tackle-busting steelhead migrate from Lake Erie to enter six (6) Chautauqua County tributary streams where they provide exciting angler action. Fish from 4 to 7 pounds are common, though 10 and 12 pound fish are not that unusual.
The “New Number 1” noted steelhead hotspot is Chautauqua Creek in Westfield, NY, drawing anglers from near and far. A recently completed fish passage project at the Westfield Water Works Dam now provides new access for steelhead to swim an additional 10 miles upstream, winding through the picturesque and deeply carved Chautauqua gorge. More than 8 miles of peaceful, public fishing rights exist, including a new 1.3 mile “Catch and Release” section directly below the Dam where only artificial lures may be used - very popular with fly rod anglers. About 15 miles of the uppermost headwaters of 20-Mile Creek flow south and west from the eastward side of the Chautauqua Ridge before entering Pennsylvania to empty in Lake Erie. Serenity is king here.
Just south of Dunkirk, NY, Canadaway Creek meets Lake Erie to offer excellent steelhead and brown trout fishing for nearly 6 miles from the mouth upstream to Laona Falls. Silver Creek joins Lake Erie in the village of Silver Creek, NY, to offer several miles of smaller water fishing from the mouth to the Hanover and King Road crossing. When other streams run muddy, this stream is typically less stained. Tiny Walnut Creek flows into Silver Creek near the mouth with productive fishing upstream to the falls located below Route 39 in Forestville.
Cattaraugus Creek is the largest of all Chautauqua County Lake Erie tributaries. The first 6 miles of this magnificent steelhead waterway are located in Chautauqua County, where the mouth of the stream provides access for shore angling and boat fishing.
Gear: Fly rods and Spinning Rods.
Fly rods to more than 10 feet long equipped with a large arbor reel to hold about 100 yards of braided line backing and 6 to 10 weight-forward tapered fly line. Anglers tie 6 to 12 pound monofilament leaders (about 9 feet long), then add 4 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon tippets for the plentiful, but sometimes wary, steelhead. Salmon egg fly patterns, streamer flies (wooly buggers, egg-sucking leeches, zonkers) and nymphs (stoneflies, hare’s ear) are popular fly angler patterns.
Spinning rods are also popular with medium-heavy action rods of 7 to 11 foot lengths, anglers use 6 to 12 pound test monofilament line with a fluorocarbon leader. The same flies can be used with a drift bobber, while some anglers fish egg sacs from octopus style hooks.
Latest fishing reports: Bill’s Hooks, 5139 W. Lake Rd. (Route 5), Dunkirk, NY, 716-366-0268 or Jerome Miller’s Bait Store, 12707 Allegany Rd., Irving, NY, 716-934-2477.
Regulations: Trout and salmon season is open all year, 12-inch minimum, daily limit 3 per person in most streams. Fishing is permitted one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset (fishing at night is prohibited) in tributary streams. Anglers should check the NYSDEC fish syllabus for changes to regulations (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7917.html). Catch and release is encouraged, steelhead can respawn for decades.
Lodging: For any of these outings, spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast, a warm winter cottage or bring the family to a deluxe winter water playground hotel. Some options are found here: http://www.tourchautauqua.com/where_to_stay.aspx.