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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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September 19, 2013

Posted: 9/19/2013
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

As we transition into early fall, highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks are steelhead trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and panfish.  Lake Erie anglers continue making good catches of yellow perch.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently low in level and running clear, although the forecasted rain into the weekend could change that scenario.  To monitor the most recent Rocky River water level and temperature you can check the following link: <Rocky River flow gage data>  

The return of cooler weather and rain last weekend gave the early season steelhead fishing a boost in local streams.  A handful of steelhead each day have been taken by anglers combined in the northern Rocky and Chagrin rivers.   A growing numbers of anglers are beginning to target steelhead, with most success occurring in the mornings and evenings.  Early season offerings that have produced fish this week include spoons (a 2/5 oz Little Cleo spoon in silver/blue is a good choice), spinners (silver/white Roostertail and Vibrax) and spawn sacks.  The Rocky River from the marina to Rockcliff Springs has produced the most fish, with some anglers also scoring near the mouth of the river in small watercraft.  Any steelhead taken before October should be considered a bonus, as the run really won’t begin to gain steam until fall.  As an early reminder for those wishing to learn the ropes of steelhead angling, the annual free Steelhead Expo will be at the Rocky River Nature Center on Saturday October 5 from 9:00am-5:00pm.

Smallmouth bass fishing in the river has been fair to good lately.  A dark olive or brown tube jig of about 3-4” length is one of the best producers of bass in the river.  “Smallies” also bite well on live bait (ie: minnow, crayfish, and leeches), lures (ie: spinners and minnow plugs), and flies (ie: crayfish patterns, Clouser minnows, dark brown or olive sculpin or muddler minnow patterns).  There are abundant small to medium sized bass in the river along with a few rare resident trophy fish up to (and over) 20 inches in length.  Anglers are always encouraged to release the larger bass so that these fine gamefish can be enjoyed again.

Largemouth bass and sunfish have been biting fair in Metroparks lakes and ponds this week.  Wallace, Hinckley, and Ledge lakes, as well as the big pond at Acacia Reservation, have all produced a few bass on rubber baits and shad crankbaits recently. 

Lake Erie boaters out of Lakefront Reservation and the Emerald Necklace marina on the Rocky River have been making very good catches of 8-12” yellow perch fishing near the lake bottom with perch speaders and live or salted emerald shiners in 41-51 FOW off the Cleveland shoreline and 42-53 FOW off Euclid.

Fall Will Be a Windfall For Local Anglers.   Since 2008, our Natural Resources Division has acquired
16,795 sportfish valued at $69,353 to release into our public fishing areas.  In 2012 alone, 3,618 fish valued at $17,397 were acquired from 75% private sources (donated through arrangement for tax write-off).  Spurred by positive feedback from local anglers catching those fish in our public waters, the program has been dramatically expanded this year with arrangements having been made to acquire fish from 10 additional private properties with dozens of combined lakes and ponds full of quality size largemouth bass and bluegill. 

The fish are collected via boat electrofishing and are transported in aerated tanks to our public fishing areas for release.  Staff time, materials/supplies and equipment use costs average approximately one quarter of the value of the fish we collect, making this a highly cost effective activity.  And this Fall we expect to easily double or even triple our record fish harvest from 2012 to benefit local anglers.  Updates will be posted every Thursday to the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Report blog detailing fish donations throughout the Autumn season.  These fish will complement the 2,000 pounds of channel catfish and 10,000 pounds of rainbow trout we purchase annually for angler enjoyment.  Add our Lakefront Reservation and river fishing opportunities and there has truly never been a better time to be an angler in Cleveland Metroparks.

 If you have a photo 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 .

Good Fishing,


Gio got an early start on the steelhead season with this chromer taken near the marina this week (photo courtesy of Giovanni Quintana).

Tyler caught this Rocky River steelie on Sunday using a black jig tipped with mealworms.  He reports witnessing 3 or 4 others caught that day, as well (photo courtesy of Tyler Berthold).

Mike sent in these photos of some big Lake Erie yellow perch, as well as Cuyahoga River catches he made this year.  The 25" pike hit a white Little Cleo spoon with bright pink spots, the 19" early season smallie hit a small red and yellow Roostertail spinner and the big grass carp hit a spawn sack (photos courtesy of Mike Reed).

Emmanuel caught these Rocky River steelies on Roostertail spinners over the weekend and Monday (photos courtesy of Emmanuel Roman).

Congratulations to Patrick on catching his first ever steelie on Monday!  He relays "First steelhead I've ever caught. It was well worth the wait.  Caught him on a little spoon this morning just after daybreak.  Keep up the good work with the blog, it's what got me interested in going after these guys.  Just thought I had to share." (photo courtesy of Patrick Burda).


Matt submitted this nice black crappie he caught this week, as well as two large Lake Erie walleye his buddy Jason Stevens caught on his first time out (photos courtesy of Matt Timoch).

Tom caught this fine steelhead on the northern Rock last Thursday at 6:00pm.  When the fish exploded on the shallow running jointed Rapala crankbait on the surface Tom thought it was a big smallmouth bass at first.  What an exciting way to hook up! (photo courtesy of Tom Nock).

Ray shared that he caught and released this Birthday steelhead from a smaller creek in Cleveland Metroparks on Saturday.  The last time he landed a steelie on his Birthday was in 2008 (photo courtesy of Ray Fierst).

Thank you to volunteers Tom, Tyler, Lana, Justin, Josh and Steve (not pictured) for assisting me with collection of many quality size largemouth bass and bluegill on Wednesday.  The fish were taken from 3 private ponds and released in Metroparks public fishing waters.  On two dates over the past week a total of 367 fish valued at $1,966.95 were obtained in this manner.  See the highlight in the report for more information on this unique program which benefits local anglers. 

Brian reports that he caught these 16-17 inch largemouth bass, and lost track of how many he hooked, in Wallace Lake on Sunday.  He also observed the pictured walleye in the clear water at Lakefront Reservation (Edgewater) near a weed bed, although he couldn't get the roughly 5 pound fish to hit anything (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).

Steve caught this 26" steelie by the Rocky River marina on September 5th (photo courtesy of Chris Leszcz).

Ihor has been catching some really nice Chagrin River smallies, as well as rock bass and a juvenile largemouth bass near Squire's Castle in North Chagrin Reservation.  He reports catching about 20 fish on three excursions to the river, each being about 2 hours long.  He also generously shared the rig he's been having luck with, a 3-4" Senko rigged on a weedless hook (photos courtesy of Ihor Balaban).

River veteran Ken Harper has been cherry-picking some productive spots on the northern Rock this week and it's paid off with some chrome steelies.  He has been using salmon egg sacks.  You know a steelhead is ultra-fresh when it has those silver streaks in the tail! (photos courtesy of Ken Harper).

In this installment of "Know Your Fish", who can identify this pretty sunfish (it was about 8" long) we turned up during a recent fish population survey at the Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area?  Please give your guesses in the comments section, and I will also give the answer there in a few days.

Cleveland Metroparks is proud of being fiscally responsible in all our work, including our fisheries program.

Runners can register for the September 28 Steelhead Run five mile race (and recieve a shirt with this cool logo) at the following link:  <Steelhead Run>.  Runners, as well as non-runners, can also register for a $10 dinner featuring walleye at the finish (you'll find me there cheering on my runner wife and friends waiting for that tasty walleye).

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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