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Cattaraugus Steelheading

Posted on November 20, 2016 at 8:00 AM


My dad and I with his personal best from the Catt


It is always difficult fishing on a dropping barometer with dropping temperatures. Fish like consistency, and changing weather patterns frequently result with fish being put off the bite, especially if that change brings falling temperatures. As fish are ectothermic creatures, creatures with a metabolic rate determined by environmental conditions, even a small drop in temperatures slows the metabolism. And a slow metabolism means that fish simply are going to be less interested in our offerings.


Noel and I fished with my dad yesterday on the Catt. When we got there, the water temp was around 44 degrees, and the air temp was in the low 50's. Waterflow was less than 220 cfs and about 3 turbidity. We hiked in quite a ways to get to the first spot I wanted to fish. We call the spot stump hole. The river makes a slight turn to river right as it dumps over a riffle. About 20 feet below the riffle right in the middle of the dump is a big rootwad and tree trunk pointed downstream, then a small gravel bar that turns into a long run. Most anglers that make it to stump hole, fish right next to the trunk of the tree and fish down through the run. But a lot of fish hold up high in the riffle dump in front of the rootwad.


We set my dad fishing the whitewater head, where the riffle dumps in, and within about 15 minutes he was on to a good fish. The fish blew through the dump and into the gravel run. It was about a 10 minute fight as it was a heavy fish and it kept taking line and running for the heart of the run. But we were able to coax it into the net. The fish was a solid 28" and normally a fish that long would be in the 8 pound ballpark. But this fish was stout all the way through to the base of the tail. It's girth was about 17". That puts the fish right around the 10 pound mark. It just goes to show how good forage is out in the lake this season due to the warm winter last year. My dad landed that fish at about 9:30. If you check the USGS site, you'll see that at that time, the water temp was rising.


Next we hiked up a bit further burning water up to slide hole. This hole follows the same general profile as stump hole. The river dumps over a riffle while turning river right and tails out into a long, boulder and slate studded run. In the dump of slide hole are a few big boulders and fish will hold around them in the current breaks. While fishing through it, Noel hooked up on another big stocky fish. This one came to the surface and rolled before making a powerful run. Unfortunately, the hook pulled free, and the fish disappered back into the depths. Noel hooked this one at about noon. Checking the site, this was the high water temp point of the day.


Continuing our trek we jumped up to another good run. By this point, the air temp was noticeably colder. We worked the run well, but no fish wanted to cooperate. The rest of the day was filled with snow squals, wind, and plummeting temperatures, but no more fish. The good thing about doing this kind of fishing is the moment you get cold, just hike up to the next spot. You'll be warm by the time you get there.


If there is anything to take away from this post, it's how important it is to pay attention to conditions. The fish we hit were while the water temps were rising or at the high point. The moment the water temps started to fall, we didn't touch another confirmed fish. All said and done, we did about a 7 mile roundtrip. But I can't think of a better way to spend a snowy Saturday.


Some more pics:



It's beginning to look a lot like... winter steelheading!



I thought this was a really cool shot of Noel crossing the river with the snowy trees in the background


Tight lines


 - D





Categories: Cattaraugus Creek fishing , Steelhead, Fishing reports

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