Grand River Steelhead Fishing: Ontario’s Grand River

A Grand River Steelhead

I live about 10 minutes from the Upper Grand River, but the Grand River steelhead fishing section starts around the town of Paris, Ontario, and runs to the mouth at Lake Erie. The Grand River is already well known as one of the best brown trout rivers in Eastern Canada, but it is becoming increasingly popular with steelhead anglers.

Anglers from all over the country and the USA visit the Lower Grand River to catch big wild steelhead on a fairly large river that is suitable for all fishing methods. Some of my guide friends and I have been fishing and guiding this river for about 20 years and have seen it go from a few steelhead to a now great steelhead fishery.

Whether you are from Ontario or the USA, if you like to fish for strong wild steelhead on larger rivers, you need to check out The Grand River. Most fishing methods work, and there is plenty of room to fish.


Steelhead can be found in the lower part of the river from about the town of Paris to Lake Erie. Once crossing the border, anglers from the USA can access good steelhead water in about 80 minutes from Buffalo, NY.

Due to multiple dams between Paris and Kitchener, the steelhead has access to about 100 kilometers of the lower Grand River and a few good spawning tributaries.

This big river is over 100 feet wide in many sections below Brantford. This is one of Ontario’s largest steelhead rivers. It can be intimidating to many anglers, but with the proper methods and some tips provided here, we can help get you into more steelhead.

The steelhead are more active when the weather and the river is colder. They will start showing up in small numbers in late September and stay until May.

Fresh steelhead from the lake can have a silver color with black dots all over their body and a pink or red stripe right down the side.

The steelhead of the Grand River are primarily wild, with some stray stocked steelhead from the USA side of the lake. Unlike the stocked steelhead found on the USA side, the wild steelhead of the Grand River tend to be very strong fish.

The steelhead of the Grand River are known to be some of the more challenging fish to catch due to its incredible stamina and strength, which makes it one of the favorite fish to pursue by the anglers in this region.

Some steelhead will spawn 2 to 3 times over a 10-year life span and these large mature steelhead over 15 pounds.

When To Fish For Steelhead On The Grand River.

As of this time, February 2022, anglers can fish for steelhead from the 4th Saturday in April until December 31st. There are times when the most fish will be in the river, and I will discuss that below. But be sure to check the Ontario Fishing Regulations.


The first time during the year you can start fishing for steelhead on the Grand River and it’s tributaries around Paris, Ontario is after the trout opener, which is the 4th Saturday in April (Check the official OMNR regulations for current rules).

Anglers will often catch steelhead in the area of Brantford, Cambridge, and Paris, below the dams.

Some straggler steelhead will drop out of the smaller colder tributaries and into the Grand River through the month of May, and this can be a good opportunity for anglers to be on the river catching steelhead with no other anglers around.

Fall Steelhead Fishing On The Grand River, Ontario

Steelhead fishing on Grand River is excellent in the fall. This is when most anglers and river guides prefer to fish for them.

Steelhead will enter the Grand River in small numbers after cool nights and cool rains. The number of steelheads in the river will improve after cold rains and when the river gets around 60F later in Mid-October. This is also when you will find the most crowds on the river.

November and early December can be fantastic, and the crowds will start to disappear later in November.

Good numbers of Steelhead will continue to enter the river until it starts to freeze in late December or January.

You can fish the lower river below the Paris dam until December 31st, but this might change, so be sure to check the fishing regulations to confirm this.

Steelhead Fishing Methods For The Grand River

There are different methods for fishing steelhead that anglers use, and depending on the area of the river and your style of fishing, you may want to pick one over the other.


Fly fishing is one of the most popular methods for catching steelhead, and anglers can use nymphing methods or Spey fishing methods with good success.

Because of its size, the Lower Grand River is a favorite among anglers who like to spey fish and swing flies for steelhead. There is a lot of great water to swing flies in the area below Paris to Cayuga.

Check out my page on Fly Fishing For Great Lakes Steelhead, where I discuss the proven tactics and best flies used by me and other guides around the Great Lakes region.


Many anglers use spinning reels and rods to cast lures or to float fish, or even drift fish for steelhead. Using longer rods and reels will help when fishing for steelhead on this big river.


The float fishing method using spinning reels or spinning reels is perfect for rivers like the Grand River, which has long runs and more depth.

The bait is suspended below the float/bobber, and depending on the depth of the water, it can go from two feet to twelve feet when fishing for steelhead on the Grand River.

If you are not sure which method is best for you, check out my article, Steelhead Fishing – Most Effective Methods For Steelhead.


When it comes to catching steelhead, you need to pick the best bait for the job to succeed. There are four types of baits that are highly effective when fishing steelhead on Grand River Ontario. These are Roe, Flies, Beads, and Worms.

  • ROE: Roe bags and skein are good.
  • FLIES: Flies, like stoneflies, pheasant tail nymphs, Caddis Larvae, egg patterns, Woolly Buggers, Egg Sucking leeches, and spey flies like intruders and Hoh Boh Speys are all solid choices when fishing for steelhead on Grand River.
  • BEADS: 8mm hard and soft plastic beads and glass beads are great.
  • WORMS: Live and plastic worms are excellent baits. One of my most effective baits is the Raven pink or red worm.


It is difficult to find fishing reports about steelhead fishing on the Grand River on the internet, and many guys are close-liped about how the river is fishing.

It’s always best to fish after rains as the river starts dropping and clearing. Depending on the amount of rain and the time of year, it can sometimes take 5 to 10 days before the river clears.

I use the water flow charts to see when the river goes from a good flow to flood and back again, and then I show up just as the river is getting back to normal levels. You can check out the Grand River Conservation website for flow information.


The lower and upper Grand River have some special regulations with rules on baits, hooks, catch limits, and fish sanctuaries.

When fishing for steelhead on Grand River, you must follow all the fishing regulations and know what not to do when you try to catch fish during the year.

These rules and regulations are updated every year in the Ontario Guide for Recreational Fishing, available to everyone on their official website.

This guide will help you comply with all the regulations when fishing for steelhead on Grand River and avoid breaking any laws set by the government regarding catching fish during every season of the year.

You can find all the information in this guide, including details about fishing licenses, catch limits, open seasons for fishing steelhead on Grand River, and more.


You can also use a fishing map to start fishing for steelhead on the Grand River and discover the best places to catch fish in Ontario.

Doing this can help you get better results when angling in the Grand River and guide you in the right direction when you don’t know where to start.

Check out this Fishing Map when you want to catch some steelhead on the lower Grand River.

Tight Lines,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. To Trout & Steelhead,
    On December 8-10 I visit Toronto to give a talk at University of Toronto, and I would like to fish for steelhead on December 11-12 near Toronto (lower Grand River?), unless it has become too cold at that time. Could I ask a few questions?

    Do you offer guided tours at that time of the year?

    If yes, would it be possible to make an arrangement, where I travelled by public transport from Toronto to some city near a decent river for steelhead fishing; one of your guides could picked me up there and return me to that spot after one day of steelhead fishing. Would that work for you? Which rivers and hub would you suggest?

    What would the price be for such a day, including fishing permit?

    Thanks for your time.


    Leo Catana
    Allégade 23C
    2000 Frederiksberg, Copenhagen

  2. Hello Graham,

    I’m going to the Grand River tomorrow to target Steelhead at the Caledonia dam. I’ve never fished there before so I was hoping you could give me some advice. Do I stick to the sides where it flows down or wade to the middle? I’m just not sure, really large area. Any tips would help.



    1. Hey Ryan,

      Sorry for the delayed response, your question ended up in the spam box.

      When heading to a new river, it’s best to learn to read the water, look for deep spots and edges, and fish everything that looks like it could hold a fish. Since they move around and since they get pressured in that area, sometimes you will find steelhead in small pockets and areas others are not fishing.

      Good Luck.


    1. Hey Robert,

      I really don’t consume a lot of steelhead but most of my buddies like to harvest steelhead in the 3 to 8 pound sizes and they much prefer fall and early winter steelhead that are fresh in from the lake over spring steelhead that are spawning or spawned out.

      Best of luck