Our good friend Richard Somerville recently had some excellent success fishing off the Lake Ontario shoreline for some staging winter steelhead.
The above male steelhead had an encounte with a Lamprey but was able to get rid of it and go on living. Notice the ice hanging off the tree in the background…yup, cold conditions!
Location, location, location.
Key to intercepting staging winter steelhead in the Great Lakes is choosing the right tributary mouth to target. My strategy has always been to focus on the smaller tributaries that lack a harbor. My thoughts have always been that it’s easier to intercept shoreline cruising steehead when they can’t move in and out of a larger harbor.
If the smaller tributary has enough flow for drifting, fishing a float-rig will work fine with roe bags. You can let your drift go way out and hopefully intercept fish attracted to the current. If the flow is slow, fishing the bottom with a floating roe bag on a slider-sinker rig is a better strategy and waiting for steelhead to randomly pass by and pick up the bait.
In the old days, anglers would line up along many of the Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario shorelines close to tributary mouths and use rod holders secured in the beach and they would make long casts and just wait it out for steelhead and in some cases whitefish to cruise by. This is a great strategy when late winter tributaries are low and the fish are still staging near the mouths.