Steelhead lured Altoona anglers Mike Wheland, 42, and his son, Noah, 15, to western Erie County last week. The two spent Wednesday at the Fish and Boat Commission's Walnut Creek Marina fishing access area in Fairview Township. Though the waters there -- about 300 yards south of where the creek empties into Lake Erie -- were high, muddy and strewed with leaves and debris, the Whelands hooked two steelhead and considered it a good day. Each fall, anglers flock to some of the region's steelhead hot spots at Walnut Creek, Elk Creek, Twenty Mile Creek, Sixteen Mile Creek, Four Mile Creek, Seven Mile Creek, Presque Isle Bay and Cascade Creek. In two hours, the two anglers caught a combined 28 steelhead in the western Erie County creek, which flows through Girard, Fairview and McKean townships. Mid-October through November is the peak window for the region's steelhead fishing season, which attracts anglers from various parts of the nation and abroad. Steelhead fishing annually pumps about $10 million into Erie County's economy, said John Oliver, president of VisitErie, Erie County's tourism promotion agency.

That means big money for regional bait shops, outdoors stores, hotels, motels, restaurants and convenience stores. Each October and November, Gauriloff said he sees an influx of anglers from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia descend on Erie County streams.
Steelhead season at his Fairview bait shop means sales of assorted bait, accessories and clothing. Millcreek Township resident Sam Constantino, 80, sat atop a plastic bucket along the wall at the Walnut Creek Marina fishing access area Wednesday afternoon.
After an hour of fishing under overcast skies and windy conditions, he had minimal bites and no catches. It was a reminder how conditions can change from good to bad, or the reverse, in just a few hours. During the past two and a half weeks, Kitcho said he has fished for steelhead eight times, concentrating primarily in Elk Creek and Twenty Mile Creek.

Gauriloff said favorable conditions have led to good numbers of steelhead migrating into western Erie County tributaries in the past couple weeks. That scenario, however, hasn't played out in eastern Erie County streams and creeks, said Tim Truitt, manager of the North East Marina.
More steelhead are being caught at the mouth of eastern Erie County tributaries and streams due to low water conditions in streams, Truitt said.
The annual run of steelhead has begun and anglers from far and near will try their luck at the many area tributaries that run into Lake Erie.

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