CLEVELAND, Ohio — As Lake Erie begins to cool a bit, Lake Erie steelhead trout are starting to move from the sprawling waters of Lake Erie to Northeast Ohio’s spawning rivers and streams. That could signal early runs of the feisty Ohio trout that have helped to create a world class steelhead trout fishery.
Those big trout are being raised at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Castalia, and released after a year in order to fatten up on plentiful Lake Erie forage before making their first spawning efforts in the chilly river waters.
The big surprise this week while Cleveland Metroparks crews have been sampling the early steelhead arrivals under the direction of Mike Durkalec was the capture of a chunky pink salmon, also called a humpback salmon because of the dramatic humps on their backs..
Fishing guide Anthon Hyvarinen of Madison owns the Ohio pink salmon record with a fish caught Aug. 17, 2021, a 22-inch pink weighing 4.3 pounds, while trolling for Lake Erie walleyes and trout. Hyvarinen was trolling a purple spoon in 74 feet of Lake Erie water eight miles off Geneva.
The hump is especially pronounced in male salmon during their autumn spawning runs up around the Great Lakes tributary streams. Pink salmon are noted for their large runs, when thousands of fish migrate up Alaskan rivers.
Pink salmon have never been found in large abundance in the Great Lakes. Stocked in the 1950s in Lake Superior, the pinks slowly spread to the other Great Lakes. They were first discovered in Lake Erie in 1979.
Steelhead trout survey shows early run: Anglers wading the rivers and streams hoping to hook up with a few early-arriving steelhead trout in the Rocky River are reporting some success. Around Cleveland Harbor, anglers casting heavy spoons and minnow-style diving plugs are starting to catch trout by day, and hooking walleye after dark should start soon.
Steelhead Expo provides a head start for fall fishing: The Rocky River Nature Center will be hosting the popular Steelhead Trout Expo at the Rocky River Nature Center on the Rocky River on Saturday, Sept. 24. from 9 am-5 pm There will be a full day of angling seminars and fishing exhibits.
The Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders (OCBS) and the Cleveland Metroparks will open the free event at 9 am with a presentation by OCBS President Tom Blotzer, followed by the Chagrin River Watershed Conservation Update at 9:15 am by Alicia Beattie, CRWP Associate Director.
John Brochue of the Orvis Store in Woodmere has a Fly Fishing for Steelhead seminar at 10 am; and Center Pin Fishing for Steelhead by Mike Durkalec, the Cleveland Metroparks Aquatic Biologist, is at 11 a.m.
On Saturday afternoon, Roger Hinchcliff of Steelhead Manifesto and the Lamiglass Pro Staff covers Great Lakes Steelhead at 1 pm; Jeff Liskay of Silver Fury Guide Service, Scott Fly Rod Pro Staff and a Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador will tackle Great Lakes Spey Fishing for Steelhead at 2:30 pm A Steelhead Rod and Tackle Raffle is at 4 pm
Take the whole family fishing: The Fall Family Fishing Fest held by the Cleveland Metroparks at the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation on East 49th Street, just west of I-77, will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 am-2 pm More than 600 pounds of channel catfish and 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout will be stocked for the family-style event.
Everyone in the family is allowed to wet a line, not just the kids, but anglers have to be 15 years old, or younger, to win prizes in several categories. The grand prize is a walleye fishing trip with Capt. Gary Norman and Dog Pound Charters.
There will be a limited amount of loaner fishing tackle.