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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 20, 2014

Posted: 2/20/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Monday February 24 morning update:  The ice jam broke free in the northern Rocky River on Friday afternoon and from the marina to the lake is currently open.  The river is dropping nicely, but the forecast for the coming week is calling for very cold temperatures which will lead to slush and ice.***

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 expeced to begin breaking up and flooding due to the impending rain and thaw.  As the rivers open up, 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>  

The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are expected to begin breaking up and cause flooding with the impending thaw and rain later today and into the weekend.  It is difficult to predict if this will be enough to free ice jam from the river, especially by the marina.  Keep posted for updates.  At the time of this writing, the Rocky River is offering quite a bit of fishable water between the Nature Center and Purtias Road, with today likely offering the last opportunity to fish it in awhile. 

Lake Erie shoreline ice fishing opportunities are available in protected areas, such as East 55th and Wildwood marinas and Gordon Park.  The thaw and rain should not be enough to do too much damage to the solid 12"+ ice base in most areas, especially since tonight is the only night not projected to get below freezing.  But ice fishers should expect a sloppy mess on the ice with lots of slush and standing water, so wearing rubber boots or waders is a good plan.  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.  One angler at E 55th Marina over the weekend reported observing a pike well in excess of 40" swim right by the hole he was fishing!  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 E 72nd area has huge schools of emerald shiners currently present, as evidenced by this <video link>.

The final winter stocking of trout was completed on February 5th.  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 Wallace and Ledge lakes has been fair to good this week.  Despite some anglers noting slow fishing lately, I offer two examples to the contrary.  Lee, aka "Possum", a Wallace Lake regular has caught his three fish limit of trout every single day since we stocked the lake on January 31st, with the exception of getting skunked this past Monday.  Lee is absolutely lethal with those Kastmaster jigging spoons, with most of his fish lately biting about 4 feet down.  Frank, who has made the drive from Wellington to fish Wallace Lake thirteen times since December, has caught trout on 12 of those outings.  He usually averages 2-3 landed in a day of fishing (he quits when he gets his 3 trout limit) using tip-ups baited with either PowerBait or live minnows.  Among those trout Frank has landed a rainbow of 4 pounds and a golden rainbow of 3 pounds.  He has also caught several largemouth bass, up to 3 pounds, and several nice crappie on live minnows this winter.  As an interesting side note, Frank uses simple but effective antique tip-ups from the 1940s!  As both of these guys put it, they are happy the fish are biting well enough, but not so good that they are getting cleaned out in a few weeks.  I have recieved fewer reports from Shadow, Judges and Ranger  lakes, and the ones I have recieved indicate the trout bite at these locations seems to be fair at best.  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 the reason the trout can be in a sour mood.   

Jigging spoons, like 1/4-1/2 oz Swedish Pimples and Kastmasters in silver and gold finishes have been top trout producers again this week.  Give the lure an upward pump of 6-12" and most fish are hitting as it flutters on the drop.  Most experienced anglers do not tip these spoons with bait, although you can add a single waxworm.  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.  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.

Free Steelhead Workshop Tonight.
   The Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders (OCBS) are offering their 7th annual Steelhead Workshop tonight (February 20th) from 7:30-9:30pm.  This free offering, which is open to anyone, will have information and demo booths with experts present to answer your questions regarding fly, float and spin fishing for Great Lakes steelhead.  The event will be held at the AMPOL Hall, 4737 Pearl Road, Cleveland 44109.  OCBS is a non-profit sportsman and conservation group that has supported the Cleveland Metroparks fisheries program for over two decades.  More info <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,


Ed landed this large rainbow trout at the narrow north end of Wallace Lake yesterday while I was there monitoring dissolved oxygen levels.  He hooked six overall, landing three.  The trout bit a gold Kastmaster jigging spoon about 2" long tipped with a single waxworm.

Tim reports "We got into a few fish both Friday and Sunday afternoons.  It was nice to see/fight a few 5-8 pounders!  My buddy Mark Deal (pictured) is in his first year of steelheading before heading to basic training in May.  He lost his first small Cuyahoga River chromer but made up for it when this decent fish smashed an olive bugger two drifts later.  Tight lines." (photos courtesy of Tim Matty).

Frank caught this nice golden rainbow trout at Wallace Lake Wednesday on a tip-up with PowerBait.  He's also been catching some bass and crappie on live minnows.  Frank has made the trip to Wallace Lake from Wellington, OH, thirteen times since December and has caught trout on all but one of those visits.

Metroparks Ranger Lt. Rich Svboda caught this 8 pound Lake Erie walleye on a perch rig and single small emerald shiner on President's Day.  It has been a banner ice fishing season so far off Catawba and Crane Creek in western Lake Erie.

"Captain Rich" caught this fine trout over the weekend on a Forage Minnow jigging spoon.

Jeff fished E 72nd and E 55th on Saturday and caught only one yellow perch, but the very abundant emerald shiners may have been the reason the bite was slow (too much natural food available).  Check out this <link> for a video of the "Shiner Parade" swimming by his holes.  Jeff's friend observed a giant northern pike pushing 4 feet long swim by his hole, as well, likely enjoying the shiner buffet (photo and video courtesy of Jeff Shaw).

The ice at our lakes is thick enough that drilling through with a hand auger takes some work!  Brian shared this image of his auger drilled a foot down at Wallace Lake this week yet still hadn't struck water (photo courtesy of Bran Kich).

Shantyless Tyler and Jon made some creative shelter from the wind at Ledge Lake this week (photo courtesy of Tyler Buell).

Even Berea Falls has been mostly frozen this winter.

Dana, the widow of "Shadow Lake Andy" Lesniak, shared "I thought you might be interested in seeing what we chose as 'Shadow Lake Andy's' final resting place. We had his cremated remains added to a man made reef as part of a memorial reef garden in South Florida.  My sons and I went last week for the dedication and a local news team happened to be there doing a story on memorial reefs.  If you <click on this link> you'll be able to see the story as it appeared on Monday's newscast in Miami.  I feel so fortunate that they were there and provided us with this way to share our experience with others.  I'm sure Andy would have wanted you to see this."  I can guarantee Andy is smiling from above knowing that he is providing a haven for aquatic life flourish which, to me, means he is still very much with us (photos and video link courtesy of Dana Lesniak).

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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