Rainbow trout fishing tips and expert advice from the Erie region


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Rainbow trout fishing around the tributaries of Lake Erie can be amazing. The key is knowing what works and what doesn’t for these unique fish in Pennsylvania.

The anticipation of hanging on to a large 25-inch trout makes Erie an annual destination for many anglers across the Commonwealth.

When the fish were young, they were stocked in shallow streams and then swam in Lake Erie. Now, they follow that mental imprint and smell of the stream to return home during the spawning time of the year.

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Kirk Rudzinski, owner of East End Angler sport store, Josh Feltenberger, manager of pro FishUSA store, and Dan Seaman, owner of Elk Creek Sports store, recently shared their tips on how to fish in different water conditions and time periods. of the year.

Water levels

Low and clear: Clear water can be difficult to fish because the fish notice people walking in the streams. “Their sight is amazing,” Rudzinski said. He added that the rainbow trout can smell when people walk along the creek.

Feltenberger said anglers in low, clear water need to be stealthy by using longer fishing rods and not using floats.

He suggests using small minnows and flies as woolly buggers in natural colors. He said white, olive, black, brown and tan are good choices this time of year.

Water rise: Rudzinski suggests nocturnal caterpillars or red worms under these conditions. He said that the San Juan worm that looks like a little red worm with a hook in the middle works well, and some fly patterns that have been effective are nymphs and woolly buggers.

Both men said that for live bait, emerald minnows are a good choice. Steelhead who has lived in 70 feet of water or more are used to seeing emerald minnows and will take them on their way to the shallow waters of the creek. Feltenberger said to keep in mind that rainbow trout can smell and will be attracted to minnows. Rudzinski advises anglers to hang the baitfish through the upper lip to allow the minnow to still be able to swim.

Feltenberger believes that streamers sometimes work better than nymphs, but anglers have also caught fish with nymphs. Simple salmon eggs also worked.

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High water: Rudzinski said that when the creeks are high, it is difficult to fish. “Our stream bottoms are shale and are getting violent.” He said the heavy rains would make the streams cloudy, dirty and turbulent – like water coming out of a pipe.

He said during high water you don’t want to wade because you can’t see where you are walking in murky and fast water. During high water, you should fish near the edges in small, slow moving swirls of water.

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Lake Erie: Fish often stop at the mouths of tributaries to Lake Erie while waiting to move upstream. Rudzinski said that some of the popular lures to use are spoons like Kastmaster, Cleo, Pheobe, and KO Wobbler. Favorite color choices are blue and chrome, and green and chrome which mimic the minnows that swim in the area.

Scoop sizes range from 1/12 ounce to 1/2 ounce. He said the deeper the water, the bigger the spoon. “If you pick the 1/2 ounce, you’ll give it to the stream pretty quickly,” he said of trying a bigger, heavier spoon in shallow water. “If I throw in a stream I’m at 1/12 ounce,” he said.

Feltenberger offers similar options. For fish that stop in front of coves, anglers use Rooster Tail spinners, spoons and small hand crank baits where the fish always hang out in the lake.


Simple salmon eggs: Feltenberger said he uses a small 16-20 hook with a single egg. Rudzinski believes that simple egg patterns will work year round in a variety of colors such as pink, white, orange, yellow, and green.

Rudzinski said the egg bags are also effective. Sporting goods stores have Chinook eggs which are placed in small mesh which is placed on your hook.

Waxworms, larvae and maggots: Live bait can be fished at different depths with the use of a float in low flow waters. Rudzinski said to the purist, “it’s a strike indicator,” he said of the floats. When fishing in rapids you don’t use a float, just a few separate strokes to keep your line down.

Seaman, who has owned his sports shop for 43 years, said the early season baits are spoons and spinners, as well as hand crank baits, as the fish will chase them in warmer waters. PowerBait paste baits, minnows and maggots, and rocking jigs are also popular. As the waters cool down later in the season, Seaman said the PowerBait doesn’t perform as well and the spoons are slowing down as well. Minnows and nightcrawlers are becoming popular and jigs continue to work.

Artificial flies Rudzinski and Feltenberger both said artificial flies, streamers and nymphs worked well.

Rudzinski mentioned several colorful fly names available, including scrambled eggs, which is a fluffy egg shape in different colors, Crystal Meth, which is a sparkling fly with strings around it, and sucker spawn, that has curls in it.

Fishing rod option

noodle stems: As the water is clear, it helps to use as thin a line as possible. To do this, there are noodle rods that are much longer than typical spinning rods. The 9 to 12 foot long noodle stems absorb some of the fight that is normally only placed on the fishing line. The rod can act as a shock absorber, allowing anglers to use a 4 or 6 pound test line to reel heavy rainbow trout.

Rudzinski said anglers with standard fishing rods use 10-pound test lines and sometimes the fish can see the line and not bite. With a noodle rod, Rudzinski starts off with a 6 pound test line and if that doesn’t work out well, he moves on to a thinner 4 pound line.

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For equipment, Feltenberger also suggests noodle rods with a 10-pound test line. He said you need to add a leader about 18-24 inches long that is 4-6 pounds near your bait. The finer line is less detectable for fish.

Errors and misconceptions

Feltenberger shares some of the misconceptions / mistakes made by anglers.

Paddling pool: One of the biggest misconceptions he said is that fishermen feel the need to wade. Fish are sensitive to the environment, and wading can drive fish away from you or make them indifferent to your lure. “Fish don’t get as much credit as they deserve,” he said of their suspicion.

Dress properly: “Lake Erie is known for climate change. Sometimes you can experience all four seasons in one day, ”said Feltenberger of the availability of weather-appropriate layers of clothing.

Correct equipment size: Another misconception that new rainbow trout anglers believe is that you need heavy gear. Feltenberger said you don’t need a 12-pound line on your hook to reel Rainbow Trout, but you don’t want to present yourself with an ultralight fishing setup, either.

Don’t try something different: “Try to change it,” he said of staying too long with a bait or a presentation. Just because something worked two years ago doesn’t mean it’s the fly or the bait to use this season.

To not do his homework : Anglers have a lot of resources online. He said to go to YouTube and other sources to learn more about this special style of Pennsylvania fishing. “We have the Internet to find anything and do anything.”

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Other resource: If you are planning a trip to Erie, you can monitor lake and Trout Run conditions by visiting the FishUSA.com website. They have a live video camera where the creek empties into Lake Erie on Avon Beach. (The stream is classified as nursery water and cannot be fished.) You can see if there are waves on the lake and how many anglers there are on these days. “It shows you what it is,” he said. The store has partnered with Fairview Township, Sons of Lake Erie, and the PA Steelhead Association on the live camera project.

Buy local and learn: He said fishermen should stop by local sporting goods stores and talk to people. “We’ll tell you what’s going on. Stop by and talk to us.

Feltenberger loves fishing and “It makes me happy to see people catch their first rainbow trout.

Brian Whipkey is the outside columnist for the USA Today Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Outdoors Newsletter on your website homepage under your login name.

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My goal is to help others better understand what is available in Pennsylvania and to explain what is going on with state agencies regarding fishing, hunting, and the outdoors. I’ll answer common questions you might have regarding hunting, fishing, camping, visiting state parks and trails, and just about anything you can do outdoors. Twitter: @whipkeyoutdoors / Instagram: whipkeyoutdoors


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