New York Fly Fishing 5 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Canadaway Creek in New York

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

December 23, 2020

Canadaway Creek in New York

If you’re an avid fly fisherman, you know that there are a lot of great creeks and streams around the country just waiting for you. Of course, planning those trips can seem a bit daunting. Unless you’re familiar with local fishing, you might feel like you need to hire a guide to help. 

The good news is that you don’t have to hire anyone if you don’t want to. Thanks to guides like this, you’ll be able to learn all about fly fishing at Canadaway Creek and other rivers, streams, and creeks. Then, you can plan your perfect fly fishing getaway on a budget and spend more money upgrading your gear!

River Overview

Fly fishing for steelhead in Canadaway Creek (New York) in Steelhead Alley

Canadaway Creek runs for about six miles from Lake Erie to Laona Falls, offering an impressive run of steelhead from mid-October through December, along with lake-run browns. This medium-sized creek is located in Chautauqua County near Fredonia and Dunkirk and offers about 2.4 miles of public fishing access in various areas. 

The upper section offers inland trout fishing, while the lower section has plenty of easements and fishing access for wading, as well. Near the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area, the creek is stocked yearly with 50 brown trout (2 years old) and 250 yearling brook trout.

Canadaway Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of steelhead fishing access points on Canadaway Creek in New York

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Located in Northwestern New York, this creek offers steelhead ranging between 5 and 12 pounds. Swinging streamers on a sink tip can be very effective in the large pools near the lake, while nymphs and salmon egg patterns area effective everywhere in Canadaway Creek. 

This creek runs along Route 5, offering plenty of easy fishing access and an easy drive into and out of town. It’s a typical slate- and and shale-bottom creek that is part of Steelhead Alley, along with Chautauqua Creek, Silver Creek, Walnut Creek, and Cattaraugus Creek.

Best Places to Fish the Canadaway Creek

This creek runs from Lake Erie along Route 5, where you’ll find public fishing access that is maintained by the NYSDEC. There is a total of about half a mile of access at this location, along with about 0.2 miles of easements that offer public fishing rights. 

You’ll find the steelhead in the lower reaches of the creek before Laona Falls, along with plenty of trout in the upper reaches. In the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area, there are 1.6 miles of access, located just outside of Griswold, New York. This is the section that is stocked with brown trout every spring. 

No matter where you choose to start, you’ll find plenty of great fishing. It’s usually better to start at the Wildlife Management Area if you’re new to the creek, but you’ll find plentiful fish throughout the length of Canadaway Creek. 

Access to the Canadaway Creek Nature Sanctuary is found off of Route 5, as well as Temple Rd/W. Lake Road. Despite being relatively close to town, this creek does offer plenty of quiet pockets for fly fishing if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway.

Best Time to Fish Canadaway Creek

As with most of the creeks and streams in New York and the Great Lakes tributaries, late fall and winter are the absolute best times for fly fishing. Steelhead season starts in the fall and continues into the winter. You might see a few cold days in January and February, but that’s rare. 

Brown trout are stocked in the spring and steelhead will be around until May, making spring a great time to fish, as well. Summer doesn’t offer the best conditions. Canadaway Creek gets too warm and cold water species don’t like to hang around. 

Remember that if you’re fishing the upper creek, you’ll need to follow the fishing season guidelines set forth. If you’re not fishing for trout, you’ll be fine to try your hand at other catches during the off-season. You can also fish in the rest of the creek throughout the year. 

If you are going to travel during the winter months, watch the weather reports if you’re flying in. Buffalo can quickly get taken by a lake-effect snowstorm that could throw a wrench in your travel plans. Check with the locals to find out which winter months present the lowest risk and best fishing conditions.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Canadaway Creek. The USGS stream gauge at Fredonia, NY provide a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.


  • Streamflow: 8.07 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.07 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Flies for Canadaway Creek

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Canadaway Creek:

  • Glo Bug (#8 – 16)
  • Sucker Spawn (#8 – 12)
  • Nuclear Roe (#10 – 16)
  • Black Stonefly (#12 -18) 
  • Brown Stonefly (#12 -14)
  • Hare’s Ear (#10 – 12)
  • Woolly Bugger (#6 – 10)
  • Muddler Minnow (#6 – 10)
  • Pink Panther (#6 – 10)
  • White Bunny Spey (#6 – 10)
  • Pot Bellied Pig
  • M.C. Hammer (#4)
  • Spawntruder (#4)

Gear Recommendations

A single-hand 10-foot, 6- or 7-wt fly rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing nymphs and small streamers on Canadaway Creek.  

Similar weight switch rods 10 and 11.5 feet in length are also popular. If you like to swing flies, a 12-foot-6, 6- or 7-weight rod is all you need. 

Leaders 9- to 14-feet in length, tapered down to 10- or 8-pound-test are pretty standard.  In super clear water conditions you may need to taper down to 6-pound-test.

A standard leader configuration for use with a floating or intermediate line is:

  • 2 feet, 25-lb monofilament (mono)
  • 2 feet, 20-lb mono
  • 2 feet, 15-lb mono
  • 2 feet, 12-lb fluorocarbon (fluoro)
  • 2 feet, 10-lb fluoro
  • 2 feet, 8-lb fluoro

A standard heavy sink-tip leader is:

  • 2- to 5-feet straight 15-pound Maxima
  • 2-feet straight 12-pound Maxima

Canadaway Creek Fishing Report

When you’re planning your trip, you can rely on the Lake Erie and Western New York Fishing Hotline to provide you with up-to-date fishing reports and insect reports, as well as weather information. The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH. This can help ensure that you go at the best time for the ultimate fly fishing trip. Plus, it should help avoid travel issues due to the fickle fall and winter weather that New York is known for. 

Fishing Regulations

Trout fishing regulations for Canadaway Creek are as follows:

  • Mouth to Impassable Falls: Year-round trout and salmon fishing with a daily limit of 3 fish of 12 inches minimum. 
  • Above Impassable Falls to Headwaters: Trout April 1-October 15, daily limit of 5 of any size, no more than 2 over 12 inches

The state of New York requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.

You can purchase a New York State fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Trip Planning Tips

If you’re not local, you’ll be happy to know there’s lodging at the intersection of I-90 and Route 60, along with plenty of dining and other establishments throughout Dunkirk and Freedonia. You can also find camping in the area if you want to stay even cheaper. 

Those flying in can fly to Buffalo-Niagara Airport, which is a straight shot up I-90 from the Canadaway Creek fly fishing area. You’ll want to rent a car from Buffalo to get around, though. For those who want a more unique stay, B&Bs and cabins are also found throughout the region.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in New York

Feature image CC by Kim Carpenter