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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 30, 2014

Posted: 1/30/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Wednesday February 5 morning update:  Trout stocking at Shadow, Ledge and Judge's lakes was cancelled today due to weather.  The tentative plan is to stock these fish tomorrow afternoon.***

***Saturday February 1 morning update:  Reports from Wallace Lake this morning indicate lots of anglers and a lousy trout bite.  Oxygen levels under the ice are currently lower than the high oxygen environment these fish came from, and it's not uncommon for the fish to take several days to a week to equillibriate to their new environment and start biting well.  As a tip, anglers can try fishing closer to the surface where oxygen levels are highest under ice cover.***

***Friday January 31 afternoon update:  Trout were stocked this afternoon in Wallace Lake (900#) and Ranger Lake (100#).  We have tentatively scheduled stocking of Shadow, Ledge and Juge's lakes for next Wednesday February 5th.***

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 weekThe Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently 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.  Although 99%+ of the river is ice covered, a small number of very dedicated anglers have sought out areas of remaining open water and have even hooked a few steelhead.  See a few such photos below.  A few anglers are also ice fishing the slow, deep water by the marina, although extreme caution is 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 is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday January 31) at Wallace and Ranger lakes and tentatively next Wednesday (February 5) for Shadow, Ledge and Judge's lakes.  Anglers can check back in on the fishing report for updates as available.  The stocking will roughly 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 known as golden rainbows.

Ice fishers have noted slower fishing this week.  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.  With that said, a small car lost control on Saturday morning and veered onto Shadow Lake...and did not even break through the ice! 

Cleveland Museum of Natural History Trout Club Fly Fishing Film Festival
.   The Cleveland Museum of Natural History Trout Club is hosting their third annual Fly Fishing Film Festival on Friday February 7th, with the proceeds benefiting cold water conservation efforts in Northeast Ohio.  Early registration is $15, or $20 at the door.  A cocktail reception (food included in the screening price) starts at 6:00pm, with the film from 7:30-9:30pm.  Last year the 550 seat auditorium sold out, so register early if you want to be assured a seat. 

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,


Trout fishing will get a big boost in the near future with the final stocking of this winter.  See the report for details.  Although fishing has slowed this week, anglers still caught some trout at Wallace and other area lakes.  The fish above all bit PowerBait, with the top and bottom fish both being 21".

I often see folks using bobbers too big to detect often light bites when ice fishing.  Above are my personal choices for trout ice fishing.

Bill sent in these photos to tantalize folks and let them know there are still a (very) few open spots on the Rock to hook steelhead as he, his son and a friend are doing.  But don't expect him to tell specifically where!  It should serve as incentive to die-hards to head out and explore the winter river (photos courtesy of Bill Wahl).

Lee finds the trout approve of his jigging spoon, which is painted dark green and yellow on the front with a metallic gold back.

Brian targets largemouth bass through the ice using the same soft plastics he uses in the open water.  He hooked three, landing two, one afternoon at Wallace Lake this week, being sure to minimize how long they were out of the water in the frigid weather (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).

Dissolved oxygen levels in lakes and ponds tends to decrease throughout the winter, especially during winters with extended ice and snow cover and in shallow weedy lakes or those with abundant algae.  The oxygen is depleted as these plants/algae die and decompose.  This can be a normal, natural occurrence in certain environments, and/or can be exacerbated through surrounding human activities that contribute nutrients to a watershed, therby increasing vegetative growth.  Cleveland Metroparks routinely monitors disslolved oxygen levels under the ice at a number of locations to assist with lake management decision making, such as determining roughly how many trout to stock per acre and where to focus summer vegetation management activities.  Waters in descending order from highest to lowest oxygen levels are Ledge Lake, Wallace Lake, Ranger Lake, Judge's Lake, Shadow Lake and Oxbow Lagoon.  Shadow Lake had an oxygen depletion related fish kill in late winter 2011, and I would not be surprised at this rate if we don't see some dead fish at Oxbow Lagoon when the ice melts.  As a tip to anglers, winter oxygen levels in most lakes are highest near the surface and lowest down deeper, so don't be afraid to fish closer to the surface if you're not getting action near the bottom.

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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