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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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February 6, 2014

Posted: 2/6/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in winter include stocked rainbow trout, steelhead and panfish.  Anglers have been ice fishing on Metroparks lakes and ponds all week.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently largely ice covered with no immediate end in sight.  During the next thaw, 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>  

Steelhead fishing opportunities in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently limited due to abundant ice, and given the forecast there is no immediate end in sight.  Yet, there is more open water than there was a week ago due to the rain last Saturday.  These open spots will be closing up again quickly with the cold weather, so if you have an itch to fish the river I would recommend doing it very soon.  The water stain and flow is good.  The ice by the marina was minimally affected by the brief thaw and a few anglers are also ice fishing the slow, deep water by the marina.  Extreme caution is always advised in such areas.  Another option worth a look in winter is the Cuyahoga River, which is slower to freeze up than some of our other streams. 

Lake Erie shoreline open water fishing opportunities are no longer available due to ice cover.  On the other hand, solid ice is available in protected nearshore areas, such as East 55th and Wildwood marinas and Gordon Park.  Edgewater Marina access will be closed off at the launch ramps this winter for hurricane damage related repairs to the area.  These areas offer ice fishing opportunities for steelhead and smelt, among other species, which will heat up as winter progresses.  A single maggot on a tiny hook, or tandem hooks a foot apart, is a productive smelt offering.  The same baits as used in river fishing will work for steelies under the ice, as well as a jigging spoons.

The final winter stocking of trout was conducted last Friday at Wallace and Ranger lakes and this afternoon at Shadow, Ledge and Judge's lakes.  The stocking consisted of a total of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout stocked as follows: Wallace Lake (900#), Ledge Lake (550#), Shadow Lake (300#), Ranger Lake (100#), Judge's Lake (150#).  Shadow Lake had a slighlty reduced stocking quantity due to less than ideal dissolved oxygen levels, with the extra trout distributed between the remaining lakes.  The trout range from 1-4 pounds, with about 10% of those stocked being a bright yellow variation of rainbow trout known as golden rainbows.

The trout stocked last Friday were very tight lipped for several days following the stocking.  The reason this likely occurs following winter stocking is that the water the fish were raised in is significantly higher in oxygen than in our ice covered lakes.  The fish are fine, overall, but in a sour mood for biting until they get acclimated to their new environment, which can take from several days to over a week based on my past experience.  Recent reports indicate the bite in Wallace and Ranger is beginning to pick up a bit, and will hopefully be decent for the weekend.  I would expect a comparatively slow bite at Shadow, Ledge and Judge's lakes for the next several days, at least, as those lakes were just stocked.  

Good offerings for trout include PowerBait fished near the bottom, dime size spawn sacks, 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).  One common mistake I see is folks using bobbers too big to adequately detect light winter bites, requiring one only big enough to keep the bait afloat (see photo of my preferred choices below).  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. Panfish and bass 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.

Although ice is as good as it's been in several years on local lakes, caution should always be advised.  It's always a good idea 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 as you go.  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, carry a pair of ice spikes around your neck and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing.

Bonus Brown Trout Derby
. is hosting their second annual Bonus Brown Trout Derby, with a nice first prize trip package being offered.  Fish submitted must be caught in the Rocky River and submitted by the May 1st drawing.  So far, there are four entries, and I know more brown trout than that have been caught in the Rock this year, so odds of winning are good at the moment.  Detailed contest rules are offered <here>.    

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,


Three year old Jack is a model of concentration staring at his bobber on his first ice fishing excursion this past Saturday at Wallace Lake.

Delia spent some quality father/daughter time at Ranger Lake this week (photo courtesy of Matt Fetzer).

Josh caught this gorgeous rainbow trout on PowerBait at Ledge Lake this week (photo courtesy of Josh Blackburn).

Justin accomplished his goal of catching his first steelhead through the ice on the Rock.  The fresh steelie bit a jig tipped with minnow (photo courtesy of Justin Marconi).

Scott displays a Wallace Lake trout that bit a jigging spoon on Saturday.

An angler drifts a patch of open water at Rockcliff Springs this afternoon.  The rain on Saturday opened up some more water on the river, although it is quickly freezing back up.

A few anglers were ice fishing by the marina today.  The ice here appears to have been minimally affected by the rain on Saturday.

Hinckley Reservation Manager Jeremy Peppeard displays a trophy size rainbow trout and a golden rainbow trout as stocked this afternoon.

Dave displays a nice largemouth bass caught in a local private pond this week (photo courtesy of Dale Sante).

Stocking day always draws a crowd, but the fish are rarely in a biting mood right after they are released.  It can often take several days to over a week for the fish to get properly acclimated and begin feeding based on my experience.

A lot of folks ask how we get the trout in the lakes in winter, so I thought I'd show you.  We cut a 12"x12" square opening with a chainsaw, dump the trout in using clean plastic barrels (on a sled if the snow is deep), and replace the block of ice afterwards.  Just don't stand behind the chainsaw when cutting as it throws off a 15 foot plume of spray when it hits water!

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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