I don't think there are steelies in those rivers year round. I've fished elk and walnut creek a handful of times and to my understanding those rivers get so low in the summer that the locals actually drive pickups down them since they are all slate bottomed. At least thats what some people in Girard told me. They also said the river gets to warm in the summer and the only fish in there will be smallmouth. In my personal opinion, you're far better off fishing michigan streams, rivers then going to PA for trout. Sure during steelhead season, 20 fish days isn't uncommon, but its just not the same as fishing michigan streams.
Trout run is not open to fishing it is a nursery water, There are no creeks that hold steelhead all year round. Elk creek is stocked with brown trout towards the end of the steelhead run and is the only approved trout water out of the several erie area creeks bt is fished out by now I believe smallmouth are in the creeks or at their mouths right now. I was told by a local that you can cast spoons into the lake near trout run at the end of summer when the are starting to trickle into the creek. You mighjt be able to cast spoons at the fish leaving the area but Im pretty sure smallmouth is the fish of choice right now. The run ou there is more of a winter run with november being the best month. I like fishing the erie streams but it is more like fishing for big trout than steelhead. the fish average 5lbs but there are 8-9lbders in there along with some 2-3 lbders. Crowds are ridiculous on weekends and thick during the week.
I have some photos of fishing at Elk Creek on my web site. I camp at Folly's Campground and wade up the river. I think this is a good place to sample PA fishing. I will go back there in November and early December. I have tried at other times and it were not productive. They do not have the same spring run fish we are used to. I agree that their streams do not compare with rivers like the PM but the people are nice and the smaller steelhead are beauties. I ive in AA so the distance to PA is not much different than going to the Manistee. Out of state licenses can be purchased online for a hefty fee. I enjoy fishing there.
Nicky- Don't bother making the drive at this time. Niether Elk or Trout Run holds fish year round. I fish Elk around a dozen times a year, and have been to Trout Run a few times tossing streamers into the lake (but don't go unless you want to be fishing with people around you ever 5 feet). All the PA streams recieve heavy fall runs, so in August you can pick a few here and there casting into the lake. At this time of the year they are no where close to the shore line, around late August to mid September is when the fish start coming in. The timing is very similar to the salmon run in Michigan. Hope this helps.
I fished there around the 3rd week of Sept, one year, and got some bites fishing in the lake off the mouth of Walnut Creek. I did end of catching a few fish @ the well known hole about 1/4 mile up from the mouth (it is no secret, and there were plenty of folks fishing all around that area. BUT, the water was very low and clear, and WARM; and I just tossed out spawnbags and watched them until a fish would pick them up, then would set the hook. I got a few @ Elk Creek that day, too; but decided to wait for colder weather before going back. I went back when it got cold, and landed about 25 Steelhead in a day.
Trout Run is closed to fishing all of the time. I doubt that you will catch Steelhead in the lake there, during Summer, unless the wind blows the warm water offshore - which must happen sometimes. But starting in late September, and until ice-up, you can really get into them off T. R.
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