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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 27, 2014

Posted: 2/27/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Monday March 3 afternoon update:  By this afternoon I would estimate about 20% of the river is still open enough to fish.  The area between the Nature Center and Puritas Road bridge offers the longest stretch of fishable water, although there are several other fishable spots visible along the parkway.***

***Monday March 3 morning update:  The Rocky River is very slush and ice filled this morning.

***Friday February 28 afternoon update:  Many areas unfishable on the Rocky this morning were in nice shape by the afternoon.  Of the four anglers I saw out in over 10 miles of river, three had hooked steelhead today.  Tomorrow afternoon should offer decent opportunities, as well.  Ice fishers at Wallace Lake were catching trout today on PowerBait near the bottom, as well as jigging spoons worked about 5 feet down.

***Friday February 28 morning update:  The Rocky River is very slushy this morning.  Yesterday the river was very slushy in the morning, as well, but much of it had dissipated by afternoon and a few anglers reported hooking steelhead.  Tomorrow afternoon, with a projected high temperature above freezing, could offer the best opportunities of the coming week.

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.  Unfortunately, the Rocky River is freezing up quickly just as it was dropping to fishable conditions.  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 break-up of the frozen Rocky River made national news last week (see images and video links below).  The ice jam broke free and opened up the northern Rocky River on Friday afternoon but, unfortunately, it is freezing up rapidly just as it was approaching fishable conditions.  The past two days, the river was very slushy in the mornings, but much of that had burned off by afternoon and the river flow and stain was getting nice for steelhead fishing.  Looking ahead, Saturday has a projected high of 37 F and that afternoon, in particular, could offer conducive steelhead fishing conditions.  As usual, the slow water by the marina is re-freezing the most quickly, and shelf ice is increasing daily throughout the rest of the river.  The Cuyahoga River will likely offer areas of fishable conditions this weekend, but please be aware that the area downstream of the Route 82/Station Road dam in Brecksville Reservation is closed to access due to bald eagle nesting activity.  You can still fish at the dam, though, which can be a steelhead, channel catfish, sucker and carp hotspot, as well as producing an occasional salmon (in fall), walleye, smallmouth bass and northern pike (ODNR once elecrofished a 30 pound muskie here, too!)

Lake Erie shoreline ice fishing opportunities are available in protected areas, such as East 55th and Wildwood marinas and Gordon Park.  The ice in these areas is still solid despite the thaw last week.  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 E 72nd area has huge schools of emerald shiners currently present, which can make fishing challenging (too much natural food to compete with).

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, overall, and has been best very early in the morning and late afternoon.  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 bite on jigging spoons appears to have slowed this week, with more trout reported caught on offerings like PowerBait (chartreuse has been a producer) and live minnows.  Bites in late winter can be light, and the most attentive anglers often experience the greatest success.  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.  Dissolved oxygen levels are currently critically low in shallow Bunns Lake and Oxbow Lagoon, neither of which are stocked with trout.   

Tip-ups can greatly increase your odds of ice fishing success.  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

Angler Stewardship Resource.   Local angler and friend Ken Sakaie brought an interesting website to my attention that he thought many of you might appreciate.  
<Recycled Fish> encourages environmental stewardship among anglers, and gives tips and ideas on how interested folks can better adopt such a lifestyle.  Most regular anglers I know are conservationists at heart, which is evidenced by our angler attendance at our annual stream clean-ups (often with their kids) each year.  This resource does a nice job of giving ideas to take it to that next step.  Please check it out!

Don't forget your new fishing license.  As a friendly reminder, Ohio fishing licenses expire tomorrow (2/28/14).  I don't want any local anglers to be surprised when our Rangers or state Wildlife Officer checks them, so please make sure to renew your license if you haven't already done so.

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,



Frank has experienced consistent success ice fishing at Wallace Lake all winter long.  On Tuesday morning he hooked eight trout on the northern end of the lake, keeping his three fish limit and releasing the remainder.  He noted the bite was best right at sunrise and shut off later in the morning.  Fish were caught pretty equally between PowerBait, live minnows and his own homemade dough bait.  But Frank noted he had to work for his success, moving a few times to find the fish and managing six tip-ups at a time.  He uses a very light 2 pound leader about 16-18" long on his tip-ups.  The middle image shows the simple, but effective, WWII era antique tip-ups Frank uses, minus the stick that goes through a wire loop in the center to keep it on the ice. 

Drew reports "I caught three 14-15 inch trout at Ledge Lake on Tuesday between 3-6:00pm. I was using a chartreuse Swedish Pimple and rainbow colored PowerBait. I went out again Wednesday morning and pulled in two 13 inchers both on the same PowerBait. Released both of them. Caught one while I was using the bathroom. Keep my drag really low so he ran about 50 feet of line and was still hooked when I returned from the restroom. Ha!  Lucky on that one. But if your persistent the fish are still active at Ledge" (report from Drew Davis this week, photo from Drew two weeks ago).

Jeff took some photos of ice chunks by the marina on Monday (the area was closed to the public, but Jeff is a Metroparks employee who was working there).  He also found a mangled common carp, likely killed by the break-up of the ice, about 50 yards from the river (photos courtesy of Jeff Deluca).

This image depicts the ice jam Friday morning about an hour before it broke free.  You can barely make out where the ice chunks meet smooth ice under the bridge.

The Rocky River ice jam breaking up made national news, such as this CNN <video story> (video courtesy of

Although the camera gets shaky at times, this amateur <video> from Friday also captures the break-up of the ice jam nicely (video courtesy of Hayden Gill via YouTube).

Remember, for your safety, no alcoholic beverages on the ice jam!  I took this image at the closed-off marina area last Friday about an hour before the ice jam busted free.


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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