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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 - May 9, 2013

Posted: 5/9/2013
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

The Rocky River is currently exhibiting low and clear conditions. Based on the weather forecast rain early and late into the weekend could possibly change that and anglers would be wise to check the flow trend following any precipitation.  A number of Cleveland Metroparks lakes and ponds are offering good opportunities for rainbow trout, largemouth bass and various sunfish species. Anglers can check the latest river flow and temperature trends at the following link: <Rocky River flow gage data>

The spring steelhead run is just about over, with only a handful of the big trout reported this week.  All of those had already spawned and most were caught incidentally by anglers seeking smallmouth bass. If I had to characterize the run this year in a nutshell I would say there was no single large push of steelhead this spring and numbers were down overall, but the chances for a trophy trout of 30" or better were excellent.

The run of smallmouth bass migrating into the Rocky River from Lake Erie is going well, with anglers in the northern river reporting having hooked up with most of the larger bass this week. "Smallies" will hit live bait (minnows, crayfish, worms), 3-4" tube jigs (olive, brown and white are all good), and baitfish streamer or Woolly Bugger flies (same colors as noted for tube jigs). This is a special time of year where anglers have a chance to catch a mix of bass and dropback steelhead from some of the same holes. Anglers are strongly encouraged to release these larger 2-4 pound bass so that they can spawn and perpetuate the population. Lake run smallies will be around until early June most years.

Quite a few large carp were taken in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers this week (see photos below).  Hard fighting carp bite well on baits like canned corn, worms, doughbaits and crayfish fished on the river bottom in holes.  Gaining in popularity is the challenge of catching carp on the fly rod, with a few local outfitters even offering seminars on this topic from time to time.  The best strategy is to spot visible carp slowly moving with nose down and tail up in runs, often trailed by a muddy plume, all of which indicate feeding behavior.  Cruising carp, on the  other hand, will rarely bite a fly.  Since carp have a great sense of smell but poor eyesight, the fly should be gently dropped a few feet ahead of a feeding fish and only twitched ever so slightly as the fish approaches.  Strikes are so subtle they are often not even felt, but are indicated by a pause in the fish's movement.  Some equate this syle of fishing to that employed by bonefish anglers on the tropical flats, even earning carp the nickname of "golden bonefish" among fly anglers.  In fact, bonefish style flies like a Crazy Charlie work well for carp, as do nymph, bugger and crayfish patterns.  If you are up for the challenge take out the steelhead fly rod and give it a try this year.

The Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area was stocked with rainbow trout by ODNR on May 3.  Also recently (at the end of April) the final 600 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked in the East Branch Rocky River between Route 82 (Royalton Road) in Strongsville and the river ford (crossing) just south of Wallace Lake in Berea. These fish round out a total of 3,600 pounds of trout released into this reach of river since mid March. Additionally, ODNR stocked Hinckley and Shadow lakes with trout on Monday April 1. Small jigs and ice flies tipped with a few maggots or waxworms, PowerBait, small spinners, and salmon or trout egg sacks have all take their share of trout. Last week marked the final release of trout into the river for the 2013 season.

Largemouth bass and panfish angling has been good in Cleveland Metroparks lakes and ponds, as well. Some anglers have reported a good largemouth bass bite at Wallace and Hinckley lakes the past few weeks using spinnerbaits, rubber skirted jigs and rubber worms. Sunfish can be taken in just about any Metroparks lake or pond by dangling a small worm or waxworm on a small hook below a pencil style bobber.

Spring Children’s Fishing Derbies May 18 & 19.  Our highly popular annual kid’s fishing derbies are coming up on Saturday May 18 at Wallace Lake and Sunday May 19 at the Ohio and Erie Canal fishing area. The event is free, and fishing gear and bait will be provided for those in need at no cost. For more information, you can check the following link: <Spring Children’s Fishing Derbies info> Photos from the 2012 event can be viewed at the following link: <2012 Fishing Derby photos>.

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

Tight Lines,


Tom has been sampling the spring fishing all around Cleveland Metroparks.  Pictured above is a big catch of sunfish and crappie caught on minnows from Wallace Lake, many of them 10", and a 22" rainbow trout from Ledge Lake (photos courtesy of Kelly Davisson).

Buddies Matthew and Noah teamed up to catch this 10 pound plus carp along the Lake Erie shoreline of Cleveland.  The bruiser took a worm fished on the lake bottom (photos courtesy of Matthew Willse).

Justin scored a Rocky River spring trifecta:  a lake-run smallmouth bass, steelhead and channel catfish (photos courtesy of Justin Marconi).

Mark caught his personal best carp in the Chagrin River, a 34" brute he estimated at 17 pounds!  To add to the excitement of the catch, the fish was a fairly rare "mirror carp", which is a common carp with a genetic twist that makes some of the scales very large (photo courtesy of Mark Warren).

Chuck was casting an old Rapala minnow plug into the waters of the northern Rocky River and made quite a surprise catch: a longnose gar with beak-like snout full of needle teeth (photo courtesy of Chuck Stack).

Nathaniel reports "I caught the first two steelhead pictured the last week of April, the carp and the last two steelies came on May 7th. It's cool that I can catch steelies 9 months out of the year in the river September-May" (photos courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).

Nick reports "The first photo is my biggest catch of the spring, a 30 inch spawned out female steelhead. I would have to say she put up the best fight of any steelhead I've ever caught. When I hooked her she shot straight away from me across the river and almost took all the line off my reel. Then she made a right turn and bolted downstream. I had to chase her to make sure boulders didn't come between her and I. It was quite the thrill ride. Most of the steelies I caught this past week have been very feisty."  The other photos depict recently stocked juvenile steelhead- please handle these little trout with care as they are the future of the fishery (photos courtesy of Nick Bryan).

PJ from took this neat photo of a steelie about to return home to the river (photo courtesy of PJ Filipowicz).

Nate has been tearing up the river with his fly rod this week, catching a bunch of smallmouth bass and carp, and even a bonus late steelie.  The bass have been hitting Woolly Bugger and Clouser Minnow patterns and the carp have been hitting various nymphs, especially an orange Backstabber which is Nate's favorite (photos courtesy of Nate Adams).




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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