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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 13, 2014

Posted: 2/13/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in winter include stocked rainbow trout, steelhead and panfish.  All our lakes and ponds are offering ice fishing opportunities, as are protected harbors along the Lake Erie shoreline.  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 very limited due to abundant ice, and given the forecast there is no immediate end in sight.  A few anglers have been targeting steelhead ice fishing near the marina.  Extreme caution is always advised in such areas.  Another option worth a look in winter is the Cuyahoga River, which has areas that are slower to freeze up than some of our other streams. 

Along the Lake Erie shoreline ice fishing opportunities are available in protected 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, but motivated anglers can still walk in along the rip-rap to the west.  These areas offer steelhead and smelt, among other species like sunfish, crappie and even northern pike.  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 completed last week.  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 bite at Ledge Lake has been good in the mornings, and fair at Wallace and Shadow lakes.  The severe winter we are having this year with extended ice cover and snow is causing oxygen levels to decline in our lakes and ponds, which is likely much of the reason the trout can be in a sour mood.  Although I hate to say it, this winter is shaping up to be the type that is likely to cause some regional fish kills.  More can be learned about the causes behind winter fish kills <here>.

Jigging spoons, like 1/4-1/2 oz Swedish Pimples and Kastmasters in silver and gold finishes have been top trout producers this week.  Give the lure an upward pump of 6-12" and most fish are hitting as it flutters on the drop.  There is no need to tip these spoons with bait and doing so could, in fact, hamper their enticing action.  Other good offerings for trout include PowerBait fished near the bottom, dime size spawn sacks, and small jigs tipped with maggots or a waxworm suspended below a small bobber and jigging spoons.  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.  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.

Reunited!   Jim contacted me fairly distraught last week to see if anyone had turned in his lost Vexilar fish finder unit from Wallace Lake.  He had taken a group of ten Scouts ice fishing and the $350 unit must have fallen off his sled (he didn't notice it was missing until he got home).  Jim contacted me and I told him I'd put a reminder in this week's fishing report, as well as checking with our Rangers lost and found.  We agreed the chances were slim, but I did inform him it wouldn't be the first time someone turned in lost fishing gear.  He was prepared to happily pay a $50 reward, or more, if needed.

Well, Jim called me back yesterday to report it was returned to his door!  And it's a great story how it worked out. While on the lake Jim was friendly with an elderly gentleman fishing next to him, and even showed him how to use the unit and shared some extra hot dogs and soda he had brought for the kids.  It turns out, that is the guy who found it, and he recognized the unit as just like Jim's.  But how did he find Jim?  Fortunately, Jim had his fishing license with address with the unit, so the nice guy brought it to his house.  He refused a reward, even though Jim tried to give him one, and said "I knew you were a good guy taking all those kids fishing like that".  A very appreciative Jim still plans to send him a reward in the mail anyways.  Proof that there are some really good folks out there! 

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,


Nick shows off a golden rainbow trout caught on a chartreuse spawn sack suspended near the bottom under a small bobber on Sunday.

Geno, Terry, Dave (pictured in that order) Dale and two other buddies landed 20 trout (keeping 16) at Ledge Lake between them on Saturday morning, including several big ones.  Most fish were caught on Kastmaster and Swedish Pimple jigging spoons (photo courtesy of Dale Sante).

Jack, Zach and Scott show off a few trout caught on Sunday on spawn sacks fished under small bobbers and jigging spoons.

Drew fished just under two hours on Tuesday morning and landed 5 trout.  Two fish bit a 1/2 oz gold Kastmaster jigging spoon and the rest hit a silver/rainbow color Johnson Splinter jigging spoon.  Two of the trout were released (photos courtesy of Drew Davis).

Jake landed 6 trout using PowerBait and jigs on Friday afternoon, including a specimen pushing 20 inches. He also noted on his underwater camera that groups of fish were moving around and biting in the morning, but by early afternoon far fewer fish were moving and those that did would often swim over, inspect his bait, them swim away (photos courtesy of Jake Powers).

Brian noted a finicky bite at Wallace Lake on Monday morning, but ended up landing 3 nice rainbows on jigging spoons.  He also noted on his Vexilar unit that lots of fish were moving by without biting (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).

For any blog readers who happen to dock their boats at E55th Marina you be pleased to know that our Lakefront staff have constructed a new fish cleaning station, featuring poly (King StarBoard material) cutting surface, stainless steel sink, aluminum fish rulers, heavy duty steel frame and freezer nearby for fish waste.  This improvement was completed to better serve the public as well as to help meet requirements to be certified as an Ohio Clean Marina (photos courtesy of Jared Magyar, Lakefront Reservation Manager).

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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