Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to Cattaraugus Creek New York
The creek is more like a river because it is fairly large with long riffles leading into large
pools. The river is approximately fifty miles long from the dam located at Springfield down to
Lake Erie. The stream terminates at Lake Erie near the town of Irving. The lower twenty
miles runs through the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. This area is basically from Gowanda
downstream. It is easily accessed and the section of water most anglers perfer. A Seneca
Nations seasonal fishing license is required to fish this section.

The next section of water flows through a deep gorge about ten miles long. It is very difficult
to access. Its also limited by private property. The section above the gorge to the dam is
approximately fifteen miles long but is also limited because of private property. The only
access is near the dam.

Upstream of the Village of Yorkshire above Springfield Dam there is a good population of
both wild brown and rainbow trout. The state also stock a large number of both rainbow and
brown trout in this section of Cattaraugus Creek. Fishing is open year-round in some areas
on a catch and release basis.

The steelhead trout are what most anglers visit Cattaraugus Creek for. They average from
about 8 to 10 pounds. These fish can be in the creel anytime from late September until May
of the following year. They are very aggressive and in the river to feed on the salmon eggs
during late October and November. These fish can also be caught during December,
January and February but the weather is usually very cold with deep snow along the banks.
They can still be caught during March and April and they can be just as aggressive as they
are in the Autumn season. Also the spring runnoff from melting snow can foul the water up.
They are feeding to add weight after spawning, before they return to the lake.   From late
May to early April, the steelhead move back into Lake Erie. At this time, after the spawn, they
again become very active. They can be caught on a number of different type of flies.

The upper Cattaraugus Creek has both stocked and wild rainbows and brown trout. It has
several miles of public fishing waters. Natural reproduction is limited but some wild trout are
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Photo Courtesy of
Dennis McCarthy
Photo Courtesy of
Dennis McCarthy