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15 Oct 11 Jeffrey L. Frischkorn: Gearing up properly for early fall steelhead – News

With winter in the gun sights, Northeast Ohio anglers are focusing their attention on looking for steelhead trout.

Yes, there’s time left for perch fishing on Lake Erie. However, those days are numbered while the best runs of trout are ahead.

The tough choice now is deciding “where” and “what to use?”

Early in the game, many steelhead anglers are casting hardware from the piers and beaches along the Lake Erie shoreline. Some of the chief locations include the Eastlake-CEI seawall at the end of Erie Road, the Fairport Harbor short pier at the end of Water Street, and Lake Metroparks’ Arcola Creek Park at the end of Dock Road in Madison.

Personally, I’ve always preferred Arcola Creek as a beach fisheries, not so much because it is better but because the angling atmosphere is more enjoyable.

As often as not fishermen working the lake shore are tossing spoons and in-line spinners. Among the most well known: K.O. Wobblers, Little Cleos and Mainliners for spoons along with Roostertails and the Blue Fox Vibrex for in-line spinners.

Stop at a tackle shop and buy at least two each of chrome-and-blue, chrome-and-orange, chrome-and-chartruse in the way of spoons. For spinners, seek out black, brass (often erroneously called “gold”), silver, blue-and-chrome.

Those should get you started. Keep everything under one-half ounce, too.

Plugs work well for those who know how to use them and if you can still find outdated crankbaits such as Tadpollies and Wee Warts.

I’m not sure why but I don’t use as much hardware when I’m fishing the streams. Here, I prefer a small (1/64-, 1/32- or 1/16-ounce) jig tipped with at least three maggots. My favorite jig colors are black and red, white, and something with a dash of orange or yellow.

As for those messy spawn sacks, you bet I have them in my arsenal. I make up my own, though I tend to ball them up larger than do expert steelheaders like Mentor’s Bob Ashley and Cuyahoga Falls’ Paul Liikala.

The one thing we all agree on is ensuring the use of not only fluorocarbon line for a leader but also employing the correct kind of floats. To a man we all carry an assortment of floats, balsa mostly but also some foam plastic models.

Buy the pencil-shaped floats of varying thickness and weights. Sometimes you’ll need to lob a baited rig out toward mid-stream and that will require a heavier float.

Avoid buying those round, red-and-white “bobbers.” They’re useless, in large measure because their rounded shape requires more effort for a trout to pull under — a fact that will cause a fish to abandon further exploitation.

Make sure you’ve got a decent spinning reel with a good drag, and that your rod was designed for steelhead and not largemouth bass. You want something that will cast a light set-up and allow for better control of a fish. You won’t find that by employing a 6 1/2-foot medium-heavy-action Bass Pro Shop Kevin VanDam bass rod.

Lest I forget, look at using fishing line as heavy as you can get away with and not as light as you can get away with. Even in clear water, I prefer at a minimum eight-pound test monofiliment; usually 10-pound test.

That’s about it. I didn’t get into fly fishing gear, as that’s another subject.

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