Each year people jam the shores of the eighteen-mile Keg Creek in the town of Burt New York in a quest for game fish glory.
A large run of Lake Ontario steelhead is part of a fall-spring fishing double feature; salmon, wild brown trout, and steelhead in the fall and a curtain call run of in the spring steelhead.
After the fall salmon charge upstream, and steelhead and wild brown trout runs follow closely behind. When the spring rains swell and warm the fresh water, more wild brown trout are drawn up to the stream making the short fishable section a hot and extremely rewarding destination.
During the spring peak anglers from all over New York fish Burt Dam and it can get crowded and the water conditions become unpredictable.
However, just a ten-minute drive from Burt Dam is Keg Creek. The creek drains a wide area and is nestled between an apple orchard, comfortable woodlands, and Lake Ontario.
What is more important is that Keg Creek is heavily loaded with the same run of steelhead that are found at Burt and far fewer people fish the stream. The run of steelhead is significant and makes Keg Creek a far better alternative to Burt Dam.
Keg Creek fishing begins by stopping at the small four-spot parking area on the southwest side of the creek adjacent to the Route 18 bridge over the creek.
At the bridge, the anglers are presented with two options – upstream or downstream.
The First Option for the Anglers – Upstream
Going upstream Keg Creek offers some promising options. The waterway is often not more than ten feet wide and rarely deeper than a few feet deep. The stream offers fishable undercut banks, pools, gravelly runs, and fish holding knuckles in the water as the stream meanders through a lightly treed woodland.
In this section of the stream, it is best to move up about fifty yards to the first bend before fishing. The stream makes several hard turns that create fish-holding undercut banks on the opposing side of the turn.
Be prepared to cross the creek several times during a walk upstream in order to get the best angles of approach on fishable areas. The bends and twists of the watercourse make walking only on one side challenging.
The Second Option for the Anglers – Downstream
Heading downstream the Keg Creek fisherman is first presented with a large deep pool on the north side of the bridge.
The pool holds fish but is also heavily fished since it is the most obvious place to start. The pool is deepest closest to the bridge, normally no more than three feet deep, and then shallows out to a few inches deep as the stream races toward Lake Ontario.
Past the pool, the topography alternates between fast sections of gravel stream, and undercut banks, with an average depth of about a foot or two. As the anglers get closer to the mouth they are faced with a wide and deep marshy pond-like section that is best fished from the west side. Keg Creek then empties into Lake Ontario through a very narrow channel.
What to Use for Fly Fishing in Keg Creek?
The best way to fish the stream depends on water volume. Keg Creek is very dependent on rain and snowmelt to produce the flows needed to draw in fish.
In higher volume water volume and lower clarity spring water conditions, light green to brownish green water, larger flies like woolly buggers are more successful.
While fishing for steelhead at the end of the water cycle, in low clear conditions, use small presentations. A small eggs presentation will help increase the chance of a strike under difficult low water flow. A bright orange to dull faded orange egg pattern will also draw strikes under these conditions.
The Trick for Anglers
The trick, as always, is to get the fly or bait to the fish without spooking it with the line, split shot, or a poor presentation.
Additional Small Egg Patterns for Fly Fishing
Additional small egg patterns for fly fishing are:
- Glow Bugs.
- Nuke Egg Roe.
- Sucker Spawn.
Even live bait works at the right water temperature. This is especially true at the pool at the bridge. Recently, one local fisherman caught two steelheads using a night crawler and a small strike indicator on light tackle. Then he moved downstream and pulled other fish out of a channel produced by a hard turn in the small streams.
Fishermen that use fresh eggs and drift them through the current and into the cover will also be rewarded with strikes.
In fresh water with lightly stained to deeply stained higher volume water eggs and skein live bait such as a worm or minnow can be an irresistible presentation for a steelhead.
Fish the sections from behind and let your pattern or bait drift by the fish without dragging or racing downstream.
Walking Keg Creek: Secret Fishing Spots
The clearest fishing access and the best footing are on the east side of the creek. Walking the east side of the creek is possible and fishable almost all of the way to the lake.
Walking the stream becomes more challenging heading further downstream. Thick brush and high banks make the west side very difficult to manage just a few yards from the bridge. However, there are several breaks in the foliage and paths from high ground on that side that allow access to some good fishing spots.
Keg offers plenty of spring steelhead provided that there is sufficient rain and snowmelt to raise the level of the stream enough to breech the gravel bar in the mouth.
What to Use for Keg Creek Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Equipment
- Rod: 7-9 weight 8-10 foot length.
- Backing: 150 yards 20 pound test.
- Leader: 36 inches 8 pound test.
- Tippet: 24-36 inches 4-6 pound test.
- Fly: Glow Bugs, Nuke Egg Roe, Sucker Spawn, Woolly Bugger.
- Rod: Mid-weight 5-7 foot.
- Line: 6-8 Pound Test.
- Bait: Red Worms, Night Crawlers, Egg Sacks, Skein.
How to Get There?
- Take I-990 North to NY-263 North.
- Turn left onto NY-263 North then turn left on NY-78.
- Take NT-78 13.4 miles to NY-18 and then turn right.
- Keg Creek is approximately five miles.
- There will be a small DEC parking lot on the right.
- Get on I-81 N.
- Take I-90 W and I-490 W to NY-36 N in Ogden.
- Take NY-104 W to NY-18W in Newfane. 148 Miles.
Original Article By Michael Parzymieso
About The Author
Check out Michael’s website at https://michaelparzymieso.substack.com/