Clear, Low Water-Tough Lake Ontario Tributary Fishing

Posted on March 31st, 2009
Roger Cannon smiles as he holds up his first fresh-run steelhead of the season.
Roger Cannon smiles as he holds-up his first steelhead of the year.

Just prior to the rain we had this weekend, water conditions in all of our southern Ontario tributaries were low and clear, which made for tough steelheading conditions.  Cold morning temperatures of -5 to -7 C, combined with north-westerly winds of up to 50 km/hr. made it almost unbearable to drift light floats using long rods.  I fished with Roger Cannon and Bill Selby in Newcastle, ON and found that the steelhead that had moved up up to 1/2 km. from Lake Ontario, had dropped-back to the harbor and to the first current area up from the lake.  Our best presentation was using long www.rapala.caMagnum steelhead rods ranging in length from 10 1/2 – 13″, with a main line of Suffix & Rapala 6 lb. test monofilament line and a 6 lb. test fluorocarbon leader.  African Porcupine quill floats performed best using light shot to register the “light-bites”.  Our best fishing was from about 8am – 11am, and than the fish turned off, or moved back into the lake.  Bright sunny conditions did not help, and I’m sure as the sun rose, the fish became less active in the clear-water conditions. 

Bill Selby was checking out the conditions daily and reported moderate success landing about 6-fish per outing.  Most of the fish were fresh-run, they hit spawn sacks lightly, and fought sluggishly.  The bite was short each day, lasting only about 3 hrs.  Going to a lighter fluorocarbon leader did help to get more strikes once the sun rose higher.  Most of the steelhead were female, with only about 2% being male.  Even the male steelhead were lightly colored telling us that the fish were still moving in and out of the harbor daily. 
We found that using smaller spawn-sacks from the diameter of a dime, and smaller, worked best as it got brighter out.  Small hooks also made a difference.  We both used #10 & #12 short-shanked hooks.
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