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Cattaraugus Creek Spey and Fly Fishing Info

Cattaraugus Creek is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Lake Erie south shore steelhead fishing. When flows and weather conditions allow, floating the Catt from a fishing raft offers unparalleled fly fishing for steelhead in remote canyon settings. To our knowledge we are the only outfitters that offer float fishing trips through the Zoar Valley! 

Spey fishing on Cattaraugus Creek

Though we like to focus on the Catt, there are simply times when the conditions make a trip impossible, We can still fish steelhead in these conditions, we just wade the very productive other streams! The long gravel bars, and the ledge pools of the other area streams are some of the most productive steelhead runs anywhere. When we fish from the bank, we focus on the high probability spots, and work our hardest to get you into fish!

About the "Catt"

The Catt has its headwaters in the western foothills of New York's Appalachian Mountains. Flowing some 80 miles to its mouth, Cattaraugus Creek changes character numerous times. Beginning as a small stream trout creek with ample gravel and cold spring water seeps, the upper river boasts strong populations of wild rainbow and brown trout, along with relic populations of wild brook trout. In the town of Springville, Scoby Dam blocks all fish migration. It is the stretch from Scoby Dam to Lake Erie that receives the heaviest amount of fishing efforts. Beginning in mid-late September, thousands of steelhead a year return to the lower river, most stocked but supplemented by a significant (roughly 25 %) wild population as well, on their trip up to spawn. Wild steelhead have been ascending the jade green flows of Cattaraugus Creek since the late 1800's.

From Springville down to the town of Gowanda, the Catt flows through the wild and rugged Zoar Valley. With cliffs up to 400', the Zoar has spectacular scenery. When fishing the Zoar, it's easy to forget that you're in New York State, and your mind wanders with thoughts of the Pacific Northwest. For the roughly 7 1/2 miles that Cattaraugus Creek flows through the Zoar, there are no roads, bridges, sounds of cars. Its just you and your fishing party working through some of the most beautiful spey water in the entire Great Lakes region.

Below Gowanda, Cattaraugus Creek flows through the Cattaraugus Creek Indian Reservation until it meets Lake Erie. The creek on the reservation again changes character from a higher gradient stream with broken slate rapids, boulder strewn pools and waterfalls, to a slower gravel lined river. Fish easily pass through the reservation in search of upper river gravel above the Zoar.

The Zoar Valley from the air

Tight loops on the Upper Catt

The Catt also is our focus during Hosted Trips. When we fish the Catt, we focus almost exclusively of two handed techniques, fishing streamers on spey rods. This exciting method targets only the most aggressive, and usually the largest, fish in the river. Steelhead take streamers with sheer reckless aggression. Following the initial chaos that occurs when a chrome ten pounder grabs your swung fly, get ready for lightening runs and multiple leaps. 

Beautiful fall steamer eater

Besides steelhead, lower Cattaraugus Creek hosts solid runs of lake run brown trout, along with small wild populations of chinook (king) salmon, and coho (silver) salmon, with runs varying widely year to year. In fall of 2013 while looking for steelhead, I came across a run with somewhere near 40 kings spawning in it. These fish are sporadic by catches that will take a properly presented steelhead fly. It just goes to show that when fishing steelhead, you simply never know what fish will eat your fly.

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