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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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December 26, 2013

Posted: 12/26/2013
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in early winter include steelhead and stocked rainbow trout, with anglers also targeting walleye and panfish.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently exhibiting excellent fishing conditions, with slowly receding flow and moderate stain.  Although the river may have a bit of slush early tomorrow, it should offer very good steelhead fishing prospects from now through the weekend.  Anglers can check the most recent river water level and temperature at the following links: <Rocky River flow gage data>  <Chagrin River flow gage data>   Ice on our lakes and ponds is not safe to venture onto at the current time due to the recent thaw.

Steelhead fishing opportunities in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers are very good at the moment, with little ice and moderate flow and stain.  A day can make all the difference, as one veteran angler who reported very slow fishing on Christmas day also noted that this morning and early afternoon offered some of the best fishing yet this year.  There is a mix of fresh chrome and darker steelhead being caught today, with the fish averaging 4-6 pounds.  Today dime to nickel size spawn sacks of salmon or trout eggs in various colors drifted 4-6' below a float were taking most of the fish.  Although no one color was a standout, both pink and chatreuse colors were working well.  As the water continues to recede and clear various offerings will take a fair share of fish, including small marabou jigs (1/64-1/32 oz) tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, live minnows, 2-3" white tube jigs and flies (size 12-14 egg patterns and Wooly Buggers always seem to work well).  Slowly working a spinner, spoon or wobbling plug through a deep hole can also be a good change-up tactic in winter.  Fresh fish this morning were up to at least Morley Ford just north of the Lorain Road bridge, which is as far upstream as I checked the short time I got out.

The lake was rough and muddy earlier this week, but once it settles down steelhead and walleye fishing opportunities will be available from the shore at Lakefront Reservation.  Anglers can view current lake conditions off Cleveland at the following link: <City Of Cleveland Water Intake Crib Cam>.  Although action has slowed over the past month, the east facing wall at East 55th Street access has still been producing some steelies.  When the shoreline rocks are not coated with ice anglers can also check Edgewater Park, Wildwood Park and Huntington Reservation for shore fishing access.  Anglers have been catching lakefront steelhead most consistently on an offering dubbed "The Smorgasbord" by the locals, which consists of a small 1/32 oz marabou jig or painted jighead tipped with several maggots and two or three small emerald shiners suspended a few feet under a bobber.  Most walleye have been taken after dark off East 72nd Street/Gordon Park access on Husky Jerk, X-Rap, Rattlin Rogue and Rattle Trap crankbaits.  For both the walleye and steelhead shoreline fisheries, the action tends to come in spurts and anglers need to bring a long handled landing net and should be very careful and avoid ice covered shoreline rocks.  A set of ice cleats is a very good idea this time of year.    

Earlier in December a total of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked in five Cleveland Metroparks lakes.  The fish were distributed as follows: Wallace Lake (900#), Ledge Lake (500#), Shadow Lake (400#), Ranger Lake (100#), Judge's Lake (100#).  The trout range from 1-4 pounds, with about 10% of those stocked being a bright yellow variation of rainbow trout that are known as golden rainbows or  "palominos".  Although ice is forming again following the thaw last week, it is not currently safe to venture onto.  In the meantime, anglers can target these trout from the safety of fishing platfoms and docks, as well as from deeper water from shore in several areas at Wallace Lake due to the former sandstone quarry nature of the lake.  Most state conservation agencies recommend at least 4" of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish.  Trout have been caught most consistently this week on PowerBait (chartreuse has been good) fished near the lake bottom with a small weight and small jigs tipped with a few maggots or a waxworm suspended under a small bobber.  Jigging spoons, such as gold or silver Forage Minnows and Kastmasters, worked near the lake bottom will take trout, as well.

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

Tight Lines,



Jay Wood caught (and released) his first steelhead ever in the Rocky this morning.  The fish bit a spawn sack just upstream of the marina (photo courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).

Scotty had a great morning on the Rock today, landing two of the four he hooked by 11:00 am.  He was fishing near the marina with spawn sacks drifted under a float (photos courtesy of Scotty Denham). 

Nate caught this fine Rocky River steelie on Christmas on a bubblegum colored rubber worm (photo courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).

Dave caught this pretty golden rainbow trout at Wallace Lake this week (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).

Tim had a good morning drifting spawn on the Rocky today, with a few quality size steel in the mix such as this colorful buck (photo courtesy of Tim Matty).

I watched Rick catch and release this buck steelie on the northern Rock this morning just up from the "Black Wall" (waterfall coming off the valley cliff face) by the marina.  The guy in the background over his left shoulder is fighting one in this image, too.

Dan and Dave were among those who struck silver on the northern Rock today.  Dan noted what a difference a day can make, as fishing was very slow yesterday (Christmas day) for him and others on the river (photos courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).

Joel reports from Wallace Lake this past Monday "I landed 6 or 7 trout today missed about 15 hits they were biting really light.  Rarely did they come back for seconds if I missed.  I tried PowerBait on the bottom and on a jig and got nothing.  Spinners, nothing.  Finally got them to hit on a jig and maggot.  I outfished black with my white about 3 hits to 1.  I was on that short little dock right by the big dock near the beach." (photo courtesy of Joel Terman).

Alabama Jim knows the spots where he can fish through thin ice from the safety of solid ground.

Adam made a limit catch of Wallace Lake trout on PowerBait late last week before the ice deteriorated during the thaw last weekend.  The ice is not currently safe to walk on (photo courtesy of Adam Zakarowsky).

Last Friday the ice was already melting, and the thaw and rain last weekend set ice fishers back to square one.  Looking ahead in the forescast we should have good conditions for more ice formation next week.

Randy shared some images of the wrath of Mother Nature on the East Branch Rocky River from this past weekend (photos courtesy of Randy Gerrick).

Local fishing guide Monte Casey joked that he liked the new "spey casting pools that Metroparks constructed" by Rockcliff Springs after the rain last weekend (photos courtesy of Monte Casey).

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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