Ice Out & East Side Spring Steelhead

Every March I head to Erie, Pennsylvania with a group of fly fishing buddies (“the steelhead crew”) to chase spring run steelhead. We’ve been making the trip for five years now and each time we get better at understanding the tributaries, finding fish, and catching them. This past weekend was the 2017 spring trip. Last week flew by and before long I was packing my truck with gear and looking at online steelhead reports out of Erie. Jack York’s Twitter feed was saying the creeks would be ice locked until Saturday and every post that went up on the Fish Erie thread made the weekend sound less and less promising. At one point I was texting the steelhead crew and seeing if they wanted to postpone our trip. After thirty minutes of back and forth, my enthusiastic friend Matt said we should just go and see what we find. And after I thought about, I realized that almost every trip we’ve taken to Erie has involved some type of uncertainty with weather, fish numbers, or water levels. It was settled, we were going to Erie, ice or no ice.

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Mop Flies, Green Water & Winter Erie Steelhead

I’ve wanted to get back up to the Erie tributaries to chase steelhead for a few months. I hadn’t been in Erie since October 2016 when I took my annual fall run steelhead trip. Anyone who has been reading my blog since that time knows that October was a terrible month for Pennsylvania steelhead fishing. The creeks were low and clear and the fish didn’t have the water required to move in large numbers. Because of the poor conditions, I lost interest in steelhead and moved on to chasing lake-run brown trout in western New York. I followed reports from November through January and things improved during that time. Pennsylvania creeks received much needed rain and I occasionally heard from anglers that were fortunate enough to hit a good day on steelhead alley.

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