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!
When we float down the river, we leave the crowds behind. While other outfitters and guide services pay for private access on the Upper Catt, they are generally limited to short stretches and must concentrate on one or two pools all day long. When floating, we can fish the entire river, whether it flows through private property or not. Plus with miles of public fishing in the land-locked public fishing stretch on the upper river or the stretch in the Zoar Valley proper, we have plenty of space to get out and swing. A float trip with us offers unparalleled remote fishing on one of the best steelhead fisheries in the Great Lakes. Check out our New York Fly Fishing page for more info!
Though we like to focus on drifting the Catt, there are simply times when the conditions make a drift trip impossible, or the fish aren't high enough in the system yet. We can still fish the Catt in these conditions, we just wade it! The long gravel bars, and the cobble bottomed pools are classic steelhead runs. When we fish from the bank, we focus on the high probability spots, and work our hardest to get you into fish!
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.
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