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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 23, 2013

Posted: 5/22/2013
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

The Rocky River has dropped following a spike in flow last night and it is likely the area will recieve more rain overnight.  The forecast for the weekend looks to be clear, so the river should be fishable over the weekend unless the rain is heavy.  Even if the river is muddy catfish and carp fishing can be great under such conditions.  A number of Cleveland Metroparks lakes and ponds are offering good opportunities for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and various sunfish species. Anglers can check the latest river flow and temperature trends at the following link: <Rocky River flow gage data>

Smallmouth bass running up the Rocky and Chagrin rivers from Lake Erie continued to be good this week. "Smallies" will hit live bait (minnows, crayfish, worms), 3-4" tube jigs or rubber crayfish (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.  Anglers are still reporting a few oddball late steelhead mixed in with the bass this week.

Quite a few large channel catfish and carp have run up the Rocky River from Lake Erie, as well.  Catfish hang out in deeper holes, especially those with some woody cover in the water and bite best at dawn and dusk, unless the water is muddy under which conditions they'll bite throughout the day.  Catfish bite best on the river bottom with an egg slip sinker holding down baits such as nightcrawlers, chicken liver (it lasts much longer if tied up in mesh spawn sack style), fish cutbait, and shrimp.  Some steelhead anglers take out their drift gear and use floats for catfish, which works great as long as you set your depth to be very close to or on the river bottom.

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.  Rounding things out, suckers, longnose gar, largemouth bass, and various panfish are also available in the river right now.

The Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area was stocked with rainbow trout by ODNR on May 3, and this area and Wallace Lake were stocked late last week with farm raised channel catfish and trout for the Children's Fishing Derbies that were held last weekend.  Also, at the end of April 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.  Water temperatures are getting very warm for trout already, so get out and get them while you still can!   

Largemouth bass and panfish angling has been good in Cleveland Metroparks lakes and ponds, as well. This time of year can offer a good largemouth bass bite at Wallace and Hinckley lakes on spinnerbaits, rubber skirted jigs, rubber worms, and live bait. 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.

Rocky River fish kill update.   The party responsible for the April 2012 fish kill in the Rocky River has plead guilty and will be fined, with funds going towards paying restitution to ODNR and Cleveland Metroparks. Details can be viewed <here>.

Back in the Saddle Again.
   This is my first week back to work (other than maintaining this blog for the past few months) following the January 11 accident where I came a little too close to buying the farm.  Given the number of titanium parts now in my body I am somewhat of a bionic biologist, except that I am now slower, weaker, and bow-legged in one leg (all unlike bionic Steve Austin).  But I couldn't be happier to still be here and back at work doing what I love, serving the fishing public.  We have quite a few projects on the horizon that will benefit local anglers that you will be hearing about over the next year that I am excited about.

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,


Lucius, 5 years old, had a great time fishing for bass with his dad Mickey this week.  The largemouth bass were caught in Metroparks lakes and the smallmouth bass was from the Chagrin River.  Medium size spinners produced for them (photos courtesy of Mickey Venditti).

Nathaniel attained his personal goal of catching a 20 inch smallmouth from the river this week.  The 17-18 inchers he landed weren't too shabby either! (photos courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).

Brian landed this husky sheephead (aka freshwater drum) fishing a worm on the river bottom near the marina at sunset this week (photo courtesy of Brian Price).

Kyle fooled this Rocky River carp with a crayfish fly he tied himself (photo courtesy of Kyle Hinderer).

Michael landed this fine steelie in the Rock recently (photo courtesy of Michael Iglewski).

Buddies Travis and Sisqo had a day this week where they landed 13 channel catfish in the river.  Travis proudly poses with a "lunker" in the bottom photo! (photos courtesy of Travis Males).

Ryan caught this largemouth bass in a Metroparks lake this week (photos courtesy of Charlie Siebolt).

Brett caught some dandy smallmouth bass in the Rocky River on Saturday.  Making it even more exciting the fish was taken on a Heddon Mini Torpedo, a topwater lure that usually incites a splashing strike (photos courtesy of Brett Zink).

"Alabama Jim" caught this 25 inch, 6 pound 9 oz, channel catfish in Wallace lake this morning (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).

As illustrated by this young lady, Cleveland Metroparks' fish transfer program is paying off nicely at Wallace Lake.  Many bass, sunfish, trout, and catfish were caught at the annual Children's Fishing Derbies at Wallace Lake and Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area this past weekend.  To view more photos from the event you can check out the following link:  <Children's Fishing Derbies photo album>.

John reports "Went fishing on the Rock Friday night just above dog park and saw 2 and 4 foot gars. Seemed to be running upstream. Really cool looking but would not hit my Mepps (spinner), but bass were. River was full of carp as well. Heading back out now." (photo courtesy of John Fay).

Nate has a unique ability to sniff out the last of the steelhead in the river, as well as catching smallmouth bass and carp.  The third and last photos depict Nate's buddy AJ with his first carp caught on the fly rod and a large goldfish caught at the marina after dark (photos courtesy of Nate Adams).

Matt caught this chunky carp in the river this week (photo courtesy of Matt).

Jeff has been catching some hefty channel catfish and bonus carp using cooked shrimp for bait, although his buddy Matt made the most unique catch: a northern watersnake also caught on shrimp! (photos courtesy of Jeff Abbott).

Ihor was out fishing the river this week and came across this large northern watersnake enjoying the heat provided by a large boulder that soaked up the sun's rays throughout the day.  More of Ihor's nature photography can be viewed at the following link: <Ihor Balaban Photography>  (photo courtesy of Ihor Balaban).

On a positive note, I received a really cool new titanium wading staff following my accident!  Hopefully it will be ready for its river wading debut in fall 2013.




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

2016 Cleveland Metroparks Registered Fishing Guides (name, company, contact)

16-001 Patrick Campbell, Fisher of Men Outfitters, LTD,

16-002 Monte Casey, The Steelhead Guide,

16-003 Don Mathews, Steelhead School,

16-004 Jeffery Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service & Schools,, (440) 781-7536

16-005 Patrick Robinson, Steelhead Alley Outfitters,

16-006 Gareth Thomas, Steelhead Alley Outfitters,, (216) 235-5056

16-007 Nathan Miller, Steelhead Alley Outfitters,, (440) 796-6105

16-008 Jim Lampros,,, (216) 513-6011

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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