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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 16, 2014

Posted: 1/16/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Monday January 20 afternoon update:  Unfortunately, we have had a change in plans for Cleveland Metroparks trout stocking this week. The trout supplier (Little Pickerel Creek Farms) just called to inform me that he had an emergency, and won't be able to deliver this week.  Hoping for next week, and will keep folks posted.  Sorry for the inconvenience to anyone this may affect.***

***Sunday January 19 afternoon update:  I just got a look at the Rock by Puritas Road and the slush in that area is light enough that fishing conditions are decent, and saw a few folks giving it a try.  Stain and flow are very good for steelhead.  Trout at Wallace Lake were biting well on PowerBait and spawn sacks yesterday afternoon.***

***Saturday January 18 afternoon update:  The Rocky River is currently very slushy, with no immediate end in sight given the frigid temperatures forecasted.  On the plus side, anglers are ice fishing on Meroparks lakes and ponds.  Please read the report for ice fishing safety tips.***

***Friday January 17 afternoon update:  The Rocky River fished well for steelhead yesterday and this morning, with a good mix of fish ranging from skippers to 10+ pound trophies.  A good number of fish appear to have run well upstream of the marina.***

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in winter include steelhead trout, stocked rainbow trout and panfish.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are free of ice jams and dropping to a very good flow and stain just in time for weekend steelhead anglers.  Anglers can check the most recent river water level and temperature at the following links (although the Rocky River readings are temporarily inaccurate, likely due to ice damage to the gage): <Rocky River flow gage data>  <Chagrin River flow gage data>   Ice on Park District lakes and ponds will continue to improve with the coming cold temperatures.

The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are no longer locked up with ice and water level and stain is looking good for weekend steelheaders.  Even though the river was still muddy yesterday, I recieved a few reports of steelhead being caught on pink spawn sacks, and conditions will only improve in the coming days.  Anglers should be aware that ice slabs stacked up on the riverbank can pose a challenge in getting to the water in some areas, especially around the marina (see photos below).  Please navigate these areas with caution.  Also, be prepared for some slush ice and ice in rod guides as the temperatures continue to drop, especially in the mornings.  In addition to dime size spawn sacks, good bets for winter steelhead include 1/32-1/64oz marabou jigs tipped with maggots or a waxworm, 3-4" white tube jigs or Gulp minnows, and live minnows.  Fly fishers in winter often do well on egg patterns and Wooly Bugger or Egg Sucking Leech patterns, as well as nymphs as the water gets clear.

Lake Erie shoreline open water fishing opportunities are no longer available due to pack ice pushed up along the shoreline and a dangerous coating of ice covering shoreline structures.  On the other hand, solid ice is setting up in protected nearshore areas, such as East 55th and Wildwood marinas and Gordon Park.  Edgewater Marina access will be closed off this winter for hurricane damage repairs to the area.  These areas offer ice fishing opportunities for smelt and steelhead, among other species, which will heat up as winter progresses.

Ice fishers have noted the fishing has slowed this week with the fronts moving through.  Ice fishing will get a big boost next Tuesday and Wednesday (January 21 and 22), though, when we conduct our second (and final) round of winter trout stocking.  This activity is subject to change based on weather, though, and anglers can check back in on the fishing report those days for updates.  The stocking will be a duplicate of the one conducted in early December with a total of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout stocked 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 anglers looking for species in addition to trout, bluegill have also been caught on small ice spoons tipped with maggots or a waxworm, and some largemouth bass have been taken on jigging spoons. Both of these species tend to be more structure oriented in winter than trout.

Ohio and Cleveland Metroparks regulations allow two rods and six tip-ups per angler on the ice.  Since the Ohio regs pamphlet does not define a tip-up in detail, some confusion exists among anglers as to what constitutes such a device, so I offer the following clarification.  The Ohio Administrative Code definition of a tip-up per 1501:31-1-02 (EEEEE) is as follows: "Tip-up means a device consisting of a hook and line attached to a spring or other device which is capable of raising a small flag or other signaling device when a fish is biting or is hooked.”  Please be aware of this because we've recieved a few complaints about anglers using non-legal versions of tip-ups recently, and our Rangers will be out checking.

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 use a spud bar 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. 

US Army Corps of Engineers Meeting Tonight About Asian Carp.   Anglers have an opportunity this afternoon (January 16) to give their opinions on a plan to keep Asian carp species out of the Great Lakes.  The meeting, hosted by US Army Corps of Engineers is from 4:00-7:00pm at the Cleveland Public Library located at 325 Superior Ave NE, Cleveland 44114. If you can't make it, please submit comment online. IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD ON THIS!!!  More <here>.

Rocky River Watershed Council Annual Meeting on Wednesday January 22nd.  Join us for the Rocky River Watershed Council Annual Meeting on January 22 at 7:00pm at the Medina County Park District's new Allardale Lodge. The featured speakers from Ohio Wetlands Association and Ohio Wetlands Foundation will talk about the the importance of wetlands in a watershed and the role of wetland mitigation, including updates on the nearby wetland mitigation bank along Granger Ditch in the watershed. We hope to see you there!  More <here>..

2014 Fishing Guide Permits.   Please note that Fishing Guide Permits expired on December 31, 2013.  Renewal materials were recently sent to all of our previously registered guides, but other folks interested in guiding on Cleveland Metroparks waters this year may find a link to the application materials following the photos in this report.  Thank you and may all your clients have fish filled trips in the New Year!

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,



This young man caught a fine trout while ice fishing with his father on Sunday.  The fish, from Ledge Lake, bit on white PowerBait.

Walt has been catching (and releasing) some nice largemoth bass on jigging spoons at Shadow Lake.  The fish in the photo is about a pound, but he did land a 3.5 pounder last week.

Dexter patiently watches his bobber for a bite while ice fishing at Wallace Lake (photo courtesy of Corey Butram).

Jake shows off a trophy 22 inch rainbow trout from Ledge Lake this week (photo courtesy of Jake Powers).

Allen caught this 9.5" bluegill on a small ice spoon tipped with a few maggots on Sunday.

Congratulations to Mike on catching his first fish ever through the ice at Wallace Lake this week!  The fine trout was caught on his first ice fishing forray (photo courtesy of Mike Gromelski).

Justin caught this 31" hen steelie the day before the ice began to break up on the northern Rock late last week (photo courtesy of Justin Marconi).

Largemouth bass have been reported caught by ice fishers at Wallace, Shadow and Ledge lakes this week.  Jigging spoons about 2" long have been working well for bass.

A healthy Shadow Lake trout caught this week.  The next round of trout are scheduled to be stocked on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.  Check in on the fishing report those days for updates.

The ice jams by the marina and first riffle/Black Wall area have cleared out over the past week, although ice slabs stacked up on the riverbank can make finding a place to access the water a challenge.  These photos, taken from a distance, are decieving, as these ice slabs are large and stacked high.  Please navigate such areas with caution.

Lance caught a fat and sassy Wallace Lake rainbow trout this week (photo courtesy of Lance Masarik).

Justin captured some great video of the ice jams on the river breaking up last weekend, which can be viewed <here> (video courtesy of Justin Marconi).

Bill, a fishing blog reader from afar, relays "I always enjoy looking up the Metroparks fishing reports and staying in touch with the fishing back home on the Rocky.  I currently live in Seattle and do a little fishing here in Washington state.  My son and I fished the Cowlitz River last month for steelhead and I thought I'd pass along this pic.  One of these days I'm going to get lucky and tie into one of your Rocky River steelies on one of my visits back to see mom and relatives.  Thanks again for your website.  It's much appreciated."  (photo courtesy of Bill Good).

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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