Fly fishing fall steelhead in Ontario

Recently I've been talking to my fishing buddy Peter Wasag. Don’t get me wrong – I don't fish, but I like listening to Peter’s enthusiasm when he talks about fishing.

steelhead trout flies 1/5


a selection of flies used to catch steelhead trout fish in Ontario

His eyes light up as he tells me about the local environment and the habits of the steelhead. Leave a comment below after you finish reading Peter’s post. – Glenn

I have not had the time to fish this fall at my regular haunts in the Kawarthas or Georgian Bay, or anywhere else north of Toronto for that matter. However, I have taken a few day trips and walked a few of the Lake Ontario tributaries in search of fall steelhead. With a lot of success I might add. Most of my focus has been on Bowmanville Creek and Duffins Creek in Ajax. Both of these streams receive good runs of steelhead that readily take the fly.

Peter Wasag with steelhead troutMany anglers on these streams use roe and worms and have good luck with these methods. I prefer to use a variety of flies drifted under a float. I am not a fisherman thats goes crashing up to the banks of a creek. I find more times than not this really spooks the trout and can turn them off for hours. Instead, I creep up very slowly, tossing my float and fly from several feet away. Especially when the water is gin clear. It is not necessarily the sight of an angler that spooks the fish, it’s the vibration caused by a heavy foot.

Peter Wasag with steelhead troutThe flies that I use are imitations of critters that are natural and realistic. My favorite and the one that I usually start with is the egg-sucking leach. I do vary the size but seldom vary the colour which is always a black body with an orange head. The head mocks a salmon or a trout egg and the body a leach. The theory, I believe, is that the trout strike this fly more out of instinct than hunger, to protect the species. Other water born creatures I use are stonefly, caddisfly nymphs and sometimes I will use a dragonfly nymph when I want something big and ugly. Minnow imitators such as muddlers, black maribous and small maribou jigs all have a place in my fly box.

Colour is important also. When the water is clear I tend to downsize and use a more natural colour presentation. When the water is murky, I lean towards colours like chartreuse, pink, orange, hot pink and purple. I also tend to use a larger sized fly in blacks and naturals. I do always want to be versatile so I carry an assortment of hardware such as Mepps and Vibrax spinners with me whenever I go.

The float set up I feel is very important. I use a tapered clear float with a series of split shot weights tapering towards my fly with the heaviest weight first under the float and the tiniest of weight nearest the fly in four to six inch increments. This allows the current to bow the line and present the fly most naturally, fly first ahead of the float.

It’s getting close to winter but don’t put away those rods and reels. The streams will have steelhead in them all winter long.

Until next time, and my ice fishing round-up… keep your line tight and your hooks sharp.


Peter Wasag fly fishing an Ontario stream