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Steelhead Fishing Lake Ontario Tributaries

By Shane Thomas

Fishing opportunities are endless all over the Great Lakes. However few can compare to steelhead fishing in Oswego County. It's home to the world famous Salmon River, and many other top notch tributaries such as Sandy Creek, Little Salmon River, Oswego River, just to name a few. The Salmon River Hatchery is a good reason why the best returns are here. This is where they were born so this is where they'll return to spawn.

Healthy steelhead
Healthy steelhead.

Unlike their Pacific salmon cousins they will not die after spawning. Steelhead trout are silver sided chrome bullets that can be caught in tributaries year round. From summer run Skamania steelhead to winter run Chambers creek strain these fish thrive in their home streams.

Steelhead are really just sea-run rainbow trout, that are said to be rainbow trout on steroids. They are spawned in the river and streams but grow to adult size in lakes or oceans, and can grow to exceed 30 pounds. As a matter of fact the New York state record was broke last August on Lake Ontario aboard a charter boat. The steelhead/rainbow weighed in at over 31 pounds.

Two steelhead
Two steelhead.

Whether trolling the deep waters of Lake Ontario or fly fishing the rivers, steelies are formidable opponents. "Chromers", as they are often referred to are far from being easy to catch. Light line and a stealthy approach will be needed to be successful. Covering a lot of water in search of chrome will often produce the best results. In the rivers this done very effectively from a drift boat. Drift boaters will often try several techniques - drifting skein, back-trolling plugs or fly fishing are the most popular methods. Once you"ve fooled one into striking HOLD ON! It's nothing for an average silver bullet to peel line off your reel for 40-50 seconds, jumping 4-10 times, and battling for over 10 minutes! Just when you think you've gotten the best of them they'll try to dodge any obstacle they can to be free.

One major warning to new steelhead anglers- it is very ADDICTING!!

Contact Shane at Salmon River Guide