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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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January 2, 2014

Posted: 1/2/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Sunday January 5 morning update:  Anglers are cautiously beginning to venture onto the ice at smaller Metroparks lakes and ponds, as well as at the Edgewater launch ramp area.  Lake Erie shoreline open water fishing opportunities have come to a halt due to ice covering the shoreline and pack ice in the water.***

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in winter include steelhead and stocked rainbow trout, with anglers also targeting walleye and panfish.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently full of slush and ice with no immediate end in sight.  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>   On the plus side, ice is forming on our lakes and ponds and ice anglers are expecting to be out fishing again in the near future..

Steelhead fishing opportunities in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently very limited due to slush and ice, and given the forecast there is no immediate end in sight.  Up until the latest freeze, anglers had been catching steelhead between Thursday and Tuesday, with spawn sacks and jigs drifted under floats being top producers.  A highlight has been a few more stray brown trout mixed in (see photos below).  An option worth a look at the moment is the Cuyahoga River, which is slower to freeze up in winter than some of our other streams.  Overall, the steelhead run this fall and winter has been below average in area streams according to most anglers; opinions, and lets hope the spring run makes up for that.

Steelhead and walleye fishing opportunities are available from the shore at Lakefront Reservation depending on wave conditions.  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.

On the other hand, ice fishers are excited about the forecast.  Athough anglers are not on the ice quite yet, the forecast leading into the weekend is promising.  To enhance ice fishing opportunities, in early 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".  Trout have been biting on PowerBait fished near the bottom, small jigs tipped with maggots or a waxworm suspended below a small bobber and jigging spoons (smaller size KastMaster, Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple have all been producing).  For those interested in getting into ice fishing, I will be offering free ice fishing basics seminars as part of our Winterffic event this Sunday January 5.  These free offerings will be from 1:30-2:30pm and 3:00-4:00pm at Wallace Lake at the swimming area.   

Most state conservation agencies recommend at least 4" of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish, and in Cleveland Metroparks it is the angler's responsibility to check that.  One method is to drill a hole near shore and check the ice thickness, and if it is > 4 inches then walk out a little further and check again.  Ice is often thinnest right at the water's edge and around inlets and outlets of the waterbody.  Other safety tips are to always fish with a friend, let someone know where you'll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing. 

Our Fishery Through The Eyes Of a German Visitor.   Cem Pahl (pronounced "Gem") is from Berlin, Germany, and was visiting the U.S. with his American girlfriend for the holidays last week.  Cem is a serious angler, and regularly wets a line in the waters of Germany, Spain and Sweden.  Fortunately for him, he has a connection through friends with veteran local steelheader Mike Spanulo.  Last Friday and Saturday Mike took Cem out on the Rocky for a few hours each day, and Cem was elated to land 7 steelhead under Mike's tutelage (a few photos are included below).  Cem is a biologist by profession in Germany, so Mike figured I'd like to meet him so they stopped by my office on Monday morning and the following are Cem's observations.

Cem had a hard time even wrapping his mind around the concept of a publicly owned fishing area.  In Germany, he relayed, all rivers and streams are privately owned.  In each German province, the prospective angler needs to take and pass an angler education course just for the privilege of purchasing a fishing license.  Cem produced a few passport-like examples of the approval that is issued upon completion from the different provinces.  Then, the next step is to purchase a fishing license for a very specific (and limited) river segment or waterbody.  And get this, the license is purchased from the commercial fishermen who own the fishing rights.  Yes, in Germany you pay to sport fish the same areas also netted by commercial operations.  I hope this makes you all feel as fortunate as it does me that we have the freedom to fish like we do here in America!  Cem was certainly impressed.

Ice Fishing Photo Contest.  Scott MacDougall wanted to let local anglers know about his Angler & Hunter Ice Fishing Photo Contest, which is open to all anglers and species of fish, as long as they were caught ice fishing. Votes for the best photos come from the public and you can enter photos from Jan. 4th-18th, 2014 (voting ends January 25th).  The 1st place prize is a G-Can valued at $249, 2nd place is a handmade Terrier Blade Knife, and 3rd place a 3 month subscript to Mystery Tackle Box.  Here is the <link> to enter the contest.

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,


Charlie ushered out the last day of 2013 in style, hooking a couple skipper steelies and a bonus brown trout on the Rock on Tuesday.  Tim notes that as the water cleared and fishing pressure increased, single egg and nymph flies and 3" pink rubber worms produced results (photos courtesy of Tim Matty).

Nate landed his first steelie on the Rock this past weekend on an orange bead fished on a flyrod.  His father also reports that a generous angler (in the second photo) allowed Nate to reel in another steelie that he hooked, as well (photos courtesy of Sean Swatsky).

Jake was ecstatic to land his second steelie ever this past Monday in the Rock.  He would like to thank veteran angler Mike Spanulo for his help.  Jake and his father stopped by my office on Monday when Mike and Cem were visiting (see report highlight) to find out tips on where the fish were biting.  Mike told him a good spot on the northern river and even gave him some spawn sacks, both of which lead to Jake's success (photos courtesy of Jake Martinez).

Chuck caught this gorgeous buck steelie, a bit over 30", on the Rock on Monday afternoon.  The bruiser bit a 1/8 oz white jig tipped with a 3" Action Tails Steelhead Worm in Purple Haze color (photo courtesy of Chuck Stack).

German visitor Cem had a great time fishing the Rocky River this week.  See the fishing report highlight for details about his experience (photos courtesy of Cem Pahl).

John and his father Joe both caught their first steelhead in the Rocky by the marina this past week.  Joe would like to thank Craig from Erie Outfitters for his assistance in helping make this happen (photos courtesy of Joe Tonich).

This late running chinook salmon was caught in the Chagrin River recently (photo courtesy of Hyle Lowry).

Matt caught a 29" chrome buck on a white tube jig drifted under a float on the northern Rock on Sunday.  Dan also landed 3 nice steelies that afternoon on spawn sacks (photos courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).

Chris caught some gorgeous fresh steelies on the Rock this week (photos courtesy of Chris Dietrich).

The slush yesterday didn't scare off veteran steelheader Ken Harper, who landed a few beauties.  A tip in slushy water is to use more weight and place it closer to the bait, which helps get your offering through the slush and to the fish better (photos courtesy of Ken Harper).

Justin has also had a great week on the Rock, landing steelies ranging from chrome bright to dark and colorful, and even scored a bonus buck brown trout.  Justin does well on spawn sacks and jigs (photos courtesy of Justin Marconi).

An angler displays a nice Rocky River steelhead (photo courtesy of Cem Pahl).

Gary and Muffy take a break from fishing to warm their hands at the burn barrel at Morley Ford on the Rocky.

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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