Southern Ontario Steel

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Southern Ontario Steelhead Fishing

When many tourists think of steel in Ontario the thought of Hamilton and Sudbury smelters come to mind. For anglers, steel comes at the end of a rod and line and is highly sought after during the autumn and early winter months in Southern Ontario. Introduced into streams and rivers running into the Great Lakes over a hundred years ago the steelhead remains a popular game fish species for fly anglers. Boasting a multitude of rivers, creeks and streams southern Ontario offers endless locations for steelhead during its annual runs in which they migrate from the depths of Lake Ontario, Huron, Erie, St. Clair and Georgian Bay to participate in their magical yearly tradition.

River systems such as the Grand offer countless spawning areas for rainbows and many experts agree that smaller rivers and tributaries provide preferred spawning grounds for this species with excellent cover, pools,  and rocky bottoms and ideal water temperatures. Steelhead while in open Great Lake waters commonly travel in packs or schools. This habit also repeats itself when migrating from big water to rivers and streams. Typical patterns and instincts show us that steelhead will move up river swimming pool to pool at first and last light during sunny conditions and sporadically on overcast days. Packs of steelhead when moving pool to pool generally display more aggressive behaviour and will strike on a wider variety of flies and bait. Once settling into a pool for a longer period of time the steelhead will then display a more discriminate appetite and patience as well as lure presentation will need to be experimented with on a consistent basis.

Southern Ontario Steelhead Fishing

In Ontario steelhead will typically begin their run after the Chinook salmon. Common sizes for autumn steelhead can range from 3 to 16 pounds and they will feed on a wide variety of nymphs, baitfish, salmon eggs and leeches.

Having the opportunity to fish for steelhead during a typical Ontario fall season is not only exciting but relaxing. Vivid autumn colours and moderate temperatures offer a unique and stunning experience each and every day. Shore fishing and wading is the most common practise and with the cooling water temperatures one needs to be reminded of proper dress and equipment. A good pair of waders and footwear is essential as well as a pack of dry clothes, extra socks, long johns, rain jacket and PFD. While most anglers typically venture out waist high in most rivers a PFD is always recommended for your safety and comfort. One bad step can result in quite a cold bath and if you manage to stay dry a PFD will add another layer of warmth to your outerwear.

Some of the most enjoyed rivers and streams for steelhead in southern Ontario are Georgian Bay tributaries, Niagara River , Saugeen river, Grand river, Credit river and the Maitland. All of these systems are drive accessible and can be enjoyed less with than a one hour drive from Toronto in most cases. Getting the itch for some premier autumn and early winter steelhead has made ‘steeling’ time for yourself all that more enjoyable.


 This article was written by the
contributing staff of OFT and its
group of amateur and pro Ontario anglers.

Copyright 2007. Ontario Fish Trips .

Photographs Donated by the Niagara River Steelheaders

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