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Fishing Report Blog

Rocky River and Lake Erie were each named among the "150 Best Places to fish in America" in Field and Stream magazine.

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Rocky River Fishing Report - September 13, 2012

Posted: 9/13/2012
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

As we transition into early fall, highlight species targeted by anglers along the Rocky River watershed are smallmouth bass, panfish, and with a chance at an early steelhead trout.  Overall, the river has been low in level for much of the summer and has finally experienced a few bumps in flow over the past few weeks.  The river is clearing and will continue to drop into the weekend as long as we don’t get too much rain.  To monitor the most recent river water level and temperature you can check the following link: <river flow gage data>    

A modest number of early steelhead trout continued to find their way into the Rocky River this week.  For the most part anglers are focusing on the northern few miles of river, although a handful of fish have undoubtedly found their way well upstream of that.  I personally observed a few steelhead all the way up by the Rocky River Nature Center two weeks ago.  Mornings and evenings have been best, with anglers catching most of the reported fish on spawn sacks and spoons, although a few have also been hooked by fly fishers.  Expect steelhead fishing to remain hit or miss until we get later into fall, but it is always nice to have a shot at a bonus steelhead in September.

Smallmouth bass fishing in the river continues to be fair to good lately.  A dark olive or brown tube jig of about 4” length is one of the best producers of bass in the river.  “Smallies” also bite well on live bait (ie: minnow, crayfish, and leeches), lures (ie: spinners and minnow plugs), and flies (ie: crayfish patterns, Clouser minnows, dark brown or olive sculpin or muddler minnow patterns).  There are abundant small to medium sized bass in the river along with a few resident trophy fish up to (and over) 20 inches in length.  Anglers are always encouraged to release the larger bass so that these fine gamefish can be enjoyed again. 

Lake conditions dependant, Lake Erie boaters out of the Emerald Necklace marina have been making excellent catches of yellow perch this week fishing near the lake bottom with perch speaders and live or salted emerald shiners.  One hotspot has been at about 38 foot of water north of the mouth of the Rocky River.  Details can be found in the ODNR Lake Erie fishing report available at the <ODNR Lake Erie fishing report>.    

Ohio Brook Trout.   Ohio’s unique strain of brook trout are a state listed (threatened) species that were thought to be extinct up until a small population was discovered in the late 1980’s.  From that small remaining population, state and local agencies have been successful in introducing the fish to several more locations.  But the work continues.  In 2011, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, teaming up with Cleveland Metroparks, was awarded a $46,000 grant from US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership to restore and assess a segment of Sulphur Springs in Solon and Bentleyville as a potential site for the reintroduction of Ohio brook trout.  This stream runs through Cleveland Metroparks South Chagrin Reservation.

And Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has a really neat new Ohio brook trout exhibit in the Wolf Wilderness Cabin of Northern Trek (see images of that following the report).  The dozen or so trout in the exhibit were small fish spawned in the wild that grew very quickly given lots of feed in the exhibit environment, and may someday serve as broodstock for introducing these fish to even more locations.  Cleveland Metroparks continues to play a key role in the conservation of this wonderful native fish.

Steelhead Expo at the Rocky River Nature Center Saturday October 6th   A great way to kick off the steelhead season is to attend the 19th annual Steelhead Expo will be held at the Rocky River Nature Center on Saturday October 6th, 2012.  This event is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders and Cleveland Metroparks and will offer a full day of expert speakers and seminars, vendors, and other related information to kick off the fall steelhead season. There is no charge for the event but OCBS, a non-profit sportman’s group which is very active in the local fishing and conservation communities, is offering a raffle as a fundraiser so donations or participation in the raffle is encouraged.  More information on this offering can be found at the following link, as well as on the  <OCBS website>  

Wallace Lake Re-opened to Fishing but not Boating.   Wallace Lake was closed to fishing and boating through most of August while our staff treated a new non-native aquatic weed found in the lake (hyrdilla).  On August 28 the lake re-opened to fishing, but boating is banned until a yet to be determined time.  This will not affect our plans to stock the lake with trout this winter.

If you have a photo that you would like to contribute to the fishing report, or if you have any further questions regarding fishing in the Cleveland Metroparks, you may contact Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec at (440) 331-8017 or .

Good Fishing,



Dan has hooked into a handful more steelhead in the Rock this week, although you never know what will show up on the end of your line in the river this time of year! (photos courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).


Kyle caught this strange blue yellow perch in Lake Erie recently.  No, he didn't soak the fish in grape Gatorade!  According to Kevin Kayle, Supervisor at ODNR Fairport Fisheries Station: 
"We see this color phase from time to time with perch. It is somewhat uncommon, and can be related to habitat and even bacteria associated with where the fish was living."  (photo courtesy of Kyle K.).


Pat caught this impressive 10" bluegill in a small Cleveland Metroparks lake recently.  The fish qualified for a "Fish Ohio" award. (photo courtesy of Pat Thauvette).


Experienced local steelhead Ken Harper caught some fine steelhead from the Rocky this week, capped by a 29" chrome hen.  The only thing that is keeping Ken from catching them all is that he has to drive his kids to school mid-morning!  You can tell a fish is extremely fresh when it has silver streaks in the tail, as depicted in the last photo.  Ken wisely points out:  "Not a lot of fish around yet, but definitely worth the effort."  But everybody shouldn't expect results like Ken this early in the season as he has over 30 years of stomping around the Rocky River under his belt (photos courtesy of Ken Harper).


On Tuesday, Cleveland Metroparks staff transferred 225 largemouth bass and sunfish from a golf course pond to a public fishing lake.  We plan to conduct several additional sportfish transfers to and from various locations throughout the fall season.  We don't name the lakes and ponds stocked with bass and sunfish in order to give the new arrivals a chance to acclimate.  But odds are good that your favorite Metroparks lake or pond has been stocked at least once within the past year.


During sampling we turned up this relatively rare nearly scale free carp known as a "leather carp" (due to the leathery appearance of its skin sans scales).  This is caused by a genetic quirk which also causes the fish to have less red blood cells, making their growth rates slower than normal common carp.


Next time you are at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, check out the Ohio strain brook trout exhibit at the Wolf Wilderness Cabin.

Note: The fishing report is updated monthly in June, July, and August and weekly every other month

2017 Cleveland Metroparks Registered Fishing Guides (name, company, contact)

17-001 Mario Chance, Chagrin River Outfitters,, (330) 984-3086

17-002 Justin Pribanic, Chagrin River Outfitters,, (724) 799-5011

17-003 Joseph Beno, On The Swing,, (440) 667-2278

17-004 Jeffery Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service & Schools,, (440) 781-7536

17-005 Monte Casey, The Steelhead Guide,

More information on Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Guide Permit requirements, including the permit application, you may check the following link: <Fishing Guide Permit Program>

Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund

Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund helps provide a rewarding fishing experience to Northeast Ohio anglers through the stocking of rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and other sport fish. The Fund also supports children's fishing derbies and creation and restoration of essential habitat in the ponds, lakes, and rivers within Cleveland Metroparks.

For more information or to make a gift to Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund, including a web donation option, please visit: <Fishing Fund Donations Online>


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