In continuing with our look at the Great Lakes’ migratory Brown Trout we stop next in the waters of New York State.

   New York State is best known for the city that shares the same name. As one of the population centers of the United States, the Big Apple is a huge city, a concrete jungle much like any other North American metropolis. But green spaces abound in this state as well. Over 40,000 square miles of it. Almost all the land to the North and West borders of New York State is shoreline.


A Steelhead from a Great Lakes tributary


   Everything from Carp to King Salmon can be caught in the state of New York and the Lake-run Brown trout populations are as good as anywhere else you would find them. Among the best in the Great Lakes region itself.

   Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters strives to teach their guests the proper fly fishing techniques used to catch these lake run fish, as well as how to hook, fight, land and properly release them.

   They lean toward traditional fly fishing methods for pursuing lake-run fish. That means full floating or sink-tip fly lines using speys, wet flies and streamers. Nymph fishing is also productive when conditions dictate. The use of Spey and Switch rods is advantageous on many of their streams.

   Here is what Vince Tobia, owner of CCO, has to say about Western New York‘s Brown Trout runs.

Here in Western New York we are blessed with some of the best freshwater fishing in North America! The steelhead & brown trout fishing in the tributaries of Lake Erie provides anglers with world-class action during the spring and fall runs. These fish range from 4-12 lbs and offer great sport to fly anglers. The Lake Ontario tributaries also offer excellent fishing for trophy Steelhead & Brown Trout, as well as Chinook, Coho and the occasional Atlantic Salmon. Many of our streams are suitable for spey & especially switch rods.


A New York lake-run Brown Trout


Lake Erie‘s eastern shoreline, commonly known as “Steelhead Alley” for the great numbers of steelhead that migrate up the tributaries of NY, PA & OH, also supports decent Fall runs of migratory Brown Trout. NYS has been stocking browns for several years now, and we are starting to see decent returns of large Browns in October and November, with some of these fishing going over 10lbs. It should be noted that 90-95% of the migratory fish ascending the NYS Lake Erie tribs are Steelhead. While Browns are becoming more prevalent in the Lake Erie tribs, they should be considered a bonus catch.

Many of the NYS streams flowing into Lake Erie are small and only suitable for single-handed rods, and sometimes switch rods. However, some tributaries are larger, and spey rods from 12-14′ can be used. Cattaraugus creek, the crown jewel of our NYS Lake Erie Steelhead fishery, is well suited to both spey and switch rods.

There are 34 miles of fishable steelhead & brown trout water on the Catt, beginning at the mouth of the Cattaraugus creek in Irving, NY, and ending 34 miles upstream at the impassable dam in Springville. However, the best brown trout fishing occurs on the lower 12-14 miles below the village of Gowanda. Most of this water flows thru the Seneca Nation of Indians, and a Seneca Nation license is required to fish their water. For reasons unknown, the majority of the Brown Trout do not run upstream much further than Gowanda, though the occasional fish is caught in the upper reaches.

On most of our Erie tribs, including the Catt, a floating line is all that is necessary. If you need to attain extra depth the addition of sink tips with varying density is all you’ll need.

Swung flies are very productive for the pre and post spawn Browns, as are egg patterns & nymphs. On the rare occasion they will take dry flies.

If an angler wants to specifically target lake-run Browns, then our western Lake Ontario tributaries are the place to be. The Browns begin ascending the streams in October, with November and December being the prime fall months. The Browns can be caught all through winter and into March, at which time they return to the Lake where they’ll spend the summer.



The Lake Ontario tribs do not have as many miles of water as lake Erie, but do have larger runs of Browns, with strong numbers of Steelhead, Kings, Coho and a few Atlantic Salmon mixed in. Some areas suitable for spey and switch, especially the lower Niagara river, below Niagara falls. November and December are best for Browns which can grow to reach 15+ lbs

The lower Niagara river has all of the above species, plus Lake Trout, which can grow very large. The mighty Niagara river is ideal for a spey rod as it is large and there is little or no room for back casts in most places. Trout and Salmon can be caught here from September thru June! As in the Lake Erie tribs, these fish respond well to swung flies!

   Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters‘ owner Vince Tobia was born and raised in Western New York and has spent over 30 years fishing the area. Vince has a United States Coast Guard Captain’s License and is a N.Y.S. Registered Guide. He knows where to find the fish and how to catch them, and will share his knowledge with you.

   If your passing through New York State, looking for somewhere for your next trip or are a resident looking to polish up your skills, contact Vince and CCO and get some time on the water. Let me know too. I might try and tag along!

266 Troy Del Way
Williamsville, New York 14221

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