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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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April 24, 2014

Posted: 4/24/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Tuesday April 29 afternoon update:  600 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked at Wallace Lake this morning.  This concludes the spring stocking schedule.***

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in mid spring include steelhead, stocked rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and panfish. The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently quite clear and fishing well, but rain in the forecast tomorrow could change that for the weekend. 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 anglers made the most of the great river conditions this week and lots of steelhead were reported caught, as evidenced by the many photos that follow this report.  A lot of fish wasted no time moving right into shallow spawning riffles, especially further upstream on the Main Branch and all around the East Branch of the Rocky River.  The Chagrin River has steelhead present all the way up to South Chagrin Reservation at this time.  Many other steelhead have already spawned, known as "spent" or "dropback" steelhead.  Although just about any traditional steelhead bait or lure can take fish this time of year, this is an especially favored time for many fly fishers who drift a variety of nymph, egg and streamer patterns.  If you prefer not to fish the often crowded areas around visibly spawning fish you can find a deeper hole downstream, where fresh and recently spawned steelhead can often be found actively munching on the eggs drifting downstream. 

The smallmouth bass run kicked into higher gear this week, with quite a few of these football shaped bronze beauties reported caught in recent days.  These scrappy fighters average 1-4 pounds and can most often be taken on dark brown, olive or white jigs about 3" in length.  Spinners and crankbaits have also been working well.  The run of these bass will continue until early June most years.  The entire Main Branch of the river produces these bigger smallmouth, although the best fishing tends to be north of the Lorain Road bridge.  The area by the marina has lots of emerald shiners present, and smallmouth, steelhead and even white bass can be found feeding on them there.  I strongly encourage anglers to release any big pre-spawn smallmouth bass as they are the backbone of this naturally sustaining population of sportfish!

On Tuesday afternoon we stocked 500 pounds of rainbow trout in the East Branch Rocky River.  Add these fish to those stocked the past few weeks at Wallace Lake (1,550 pounds) and by ODNR Division of Wildlife at Hinckley Lake (2,500 trout) and Shadow Lake (500 trout) and fishing prospects this weekend are excellent in our lakes.  Since late March 1,700 pounds of rainbow trout were also stocked in the East Branch Rocky River between Royalton Road (Rt. 82) and the ford crossing just south of Wallace Lake. These trout will be well distributed at this point.  The DNR stocked trout are pan-size (11-12"), while the Metroparks stocked fish are running a few inches larger, on average.  Trout have been biting on PowerBait fished near the lake bottom, as well as small spinners, spoons and streamer flies.  Some left over trout from earlier stockings are still being caught at Ohio & Erie canal, Ledge, Judge's, Shadow and Ranger lakes, as well.  Check back in on the fishing report weekly throughout spring for the latest stocking updates.  The largemouth bass and panfish bite is also heating up at Wallace and other area lakes this week.

The Lake Erie shoreline and harbors offer anglers largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, rock bass, smallmouth bass, white bass and northern pike prowling nearshore areas for baitfish. Looking for shallower water with structure, especially emerging weedbeds, is a good strategy for largemouth, pike and panfish. White and silver spinnerbaits and crankbaits retrieved slowly produce bass and pike, while a small jig tipped with waxworm or lively minnow suspended a few feet under a float is a good bet for crappie and other panfish. Smallmouth bass and walleye like the shoreline rip-rap around Edgewater Park and E 72nd, with the walleye hitting stickbaits and rattle crankbaits best after dark.  White bass respond well to an agitator and jig dropper fished in the E 55th and E 72nd areas.  A small watercraft can increase an angler's opportunities in this area.

Reader Experiences Shared:  Word From A Columbus Angler.  (From Steve Kuklica via email on 4/24/14).  "I just wanted to drop you a line about some fishing I did yesterday. Caught a scrappy smallmouth at Morley Ford followed up with about ten smolts from Rockcliff Springs to McCutcheon Rock by the first riffle. Caught two spent hen steelies between the Black Wall and McCutcheon Rock that were keepers. Caught everything on Roostertail spinners, of course :)  I saw a dozen fish spawning in the morning down stream from the nature center. Saw a half dozen big steel rolling everywhere I fished. For the frustrated fisherman this harsh season that say 'the fish aren't there' in the numerous online blogs, the fish are there in good numbers. The two hens I got never surfaced for me to sight fish to, I just know it's a fishy spot I've caught numerous steelhead from in the past. Hopefully I can get up there again in the coming weeks! Thanks again for the great reports this season. - Steve Kuklica ("Roostertail Steve") from Columbus".

Thank You to Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders and ODNR Division of Wildlife!
   Cleveland Metroparks would like to send a big "thank you" to OCBS for supporting Cleveland Metroparks kid's and handicapped fishing events with a $7,800 donation to our Fishing Fund.  The donation funds were made possible by an ODNR Division of wildlife grant.

Lost Fishing Rod Found on the Rocky River at Big Met Golf Course.  If you lost a nice fishing rod/reel by Big Met Golf Course in a parking lot on the Rocky recently, please email or call me with accurate description of make/model and I would be happy to reunite it with you.

Rocky River Boat Ramp Docks Are In.   The docks at the Rocky River boat ramps were installed today for the convenience of early season boaters. 

Please Report Violations To Our Rangers When You See Them Occurring!   If you see someone overbagging fish, snagging and keeping fish, gutting steelhead for eggs and leaving the fish behind, littering, etc in Cleveland Metroparks please call our Rangers immediately to report it.  A report the next day is of little use in enforcement.  Do not let the perpetrator know you are reporting them and please call Ranger Dispatch at (440) 331-5530 with as much information as you can provide.  Please put this number in your cell phone!  Local guide Monte Casey recently set a good example by calling in right away to report two people keeping snagged steelhead, and our Rangers responded promptly and issued two citations.

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,


Nate had a great week of fishing the Rocky with his dad, landing several steelhead including his largest to date (photos courtesy of Sean Swatsky).

Brandon caught some bruiser smallmouth bass by the marina this week (photos courtesy of Brandon Aspery).

Bill reports "Brought my grandson Ti from Seattle to check out the Rocky River and he caught his first ever steelhead all by himself with a small Dick Nite spoon cast across and down into a slot holding several steelhead using an old telescoping metal pack rod and 6 pound test line on an open face reel.  He was very excited to be able to actually see the fish he was fishing for.  A great steelhead fishery." (photo and report courtesy of Bill Good).

Dave shares "Jacob finally caught a trout this season at scenic Hinckley Lake!  After much jubilation and admiration of the fish, Jacob released him to grow another day!" (photo and report courtesy of Dave Nose). 

Charlie and his cousin David had a very productive week fly fishing the Rock (photos courtesy of Charlie Seibolt).

Skip relays from Tuesday "Had a nice day on the Rocky today.  Had four hookups on a Spectra Flash Minnow, including this eight-pounder." (photo and report courtesy of Skip Nault). 

Jonathan caught four big smallmouth bass and lost a steelie on the Rock on Wednesday.  He was using a floating Rapala (photos courtesy of Johnathan Nelson).

Metroparks registered guide Monte Casey reports from the Rock "Willy is a first time fly fishing client and the first time fishing with a fly rod. He lives in the Akron area.  We spent half of the day learning how to cast and how to fish a fly rod and of course hook set and fighting the fish.  Early afternoon he started fishing. His first steelhead landed was a 29” big girth male, 10 lbs. plus followed by a smaller 27 male. We had six hookups total and all were adult fish. The fish were all released." (photo and report courtesy of Monte Casey).

USFWS biologist Jeromy Applegate caught two fine smallmouth bass fly fishing the Rock on Saturday morning (photo courtesy of Jeromy Applegate).

Bruce, a visiting fly fisher from Chicago, had a great morning on the Rock last Friday.  He landed 6 nice steelies and lost several others.  He would like to thank local angler Steve Nyetrae for showing him around the river (photos courtesy of Dave Dyer).

John reported on Saturday "Lower Rock on Fay's Lucille jig yesterday. Happy to catch and release this fat smallie. Thanks to Jeff Sutliff for the assist on the casting location and Rusty Pollard for the spot advice.  Sucker on upper Rock on Fay's green monster." (photos and report courtesy of John Fay).

Drew caught five nice trout on steelhead eggs this week at Wallace Lake (photo courtesy of Drew).

This week I offer two fish for the "Know Your Fish" challenge, this being the first (Fish 1).  This fish was caught at E 55th Marina recently.  Can you ID this ancient species, as well as give one of its common nicknames?

Pete and his wife Una had a great time catching their limit of trout on the East Branch Rocky River on Tuesday, as well as at Wallace Lake on another day (photos courtesy of Pete Surace).

Bill and Andy caught these steelies in a local creek when the Rock was still elevated late last week (photos courtesy of Bill Wahl).

Young Gavin was proud of the handsome 20" redhorse sucker he caught in the Chagrin River this week (photo courtesy of Mark Warren).

Metroparks registered fishing guide Pat Campbell caught seven steelies in the first hour of daylight on Tuesday morning, the largest measuring 31" (photos courtesy of Patrick Campbell).

Paul had an enjoyable week on the Rock, with his top steelies measuring 28.5" and 29" (photos courtesy of Paul Holzheimer).

Mike reports "It has been one crazy spring, but it all (weather, water, schedule) came together last Friday for my fishing buddy and I to get out. Here are a couple of pics. The first is Nathaniel with one he caught on a fly. The second is mine that I got on a spinner." (photos and report courtesy of Mike Sprau).

Matt caught this dandy 29.5" buck by the marina this week (photo courtesy of Keith).

Nathaniel reports "Here are some of the many I caught this week. The top two fish are 27", the third is 29", and last one is 31" long. While fishing a hole for steelhead yesterday, two guys came into the same hole and pulled out four smallies. One guy caught 3 in 5 casts, one was the size of a football." (photos and report courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).

This is the second fish (Fish 2) for the "Know Your Fish" challenge.  This image depicts a fish that could be one of two species.  Can you name either, or both?  The image does not have enough detail to make a determination of specifically which of those two it is, though (photo courtesy of Jeromy Applegate).

The Masarik family spent some family time together fishing at Wallace Lake this week (photos courtesy of Lance Masarik).

Eugene Braig caught this fresh skipper in the northern Rock on Saturday on a spawn sack.  Eugene serves as the Director of the Aquatic Ecosystems Program at OSU Extension (photo courtesy of Karl Wohlwend).

John, Carl, Mike and others caught plenty of trout at Wallace Lake this past week.

Please handle any juvenile steelhead, known as smolts, gently in the northern river portions where ODNR recently released them.  These fish are not the legal 12"+ required for harvest (photos courtesy of Sean Fenton). 

Dan caught his 1 millionth (and 1 millionth plus 1) steelhead of the season on the Rock this week! (photos courtesy of Dam McCutcheon).

Nate, his son Milachi and friend AJ expereienced great times on the Rock this week (photos courtesy of Nate Adams).

Thank you to the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders for donating $7,800 to the Metroparks Fishing Fund to support kid's and handicapped fishing events in 2014.  Here OCBS president Joe Moravec presents the check to yours truly.  Also thank you to ODNR Division of Wildlife for offering the grants these funds came from (photo courtesy of Dan Kammer).

Baldwin Wallace University adjunct biology professor Tyler Lawson showing his true colors via T-shirt during a recent field outing.  The shirt comes in grey or green and can be purchased online at this <link>.

A scenic spot on the East Branch Rocky River just north of Berea Falls (photo courtesy of Karl Wohlwend).

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>


4/29/2014 1:15:28 PM by Mike Durkalec
Wallace Lake was stocked with trout today because the river is already getting muddy with a lot more rain on the way,. We like to give anglers a good option when the river is uncooperative. I understand some folks would rather see them go in the river or another location, but Wallace is larger and centrally located, and most anglers are pleased with this decision (I always ask to gauge what the public wants).
4/29/2014 1:02:29 PM by Mike
Wallace got stocked again? No! Why?
4/26/2014 10:26:12 PM by Mike Durkalec
Great job guys! Fish 1 is indeed a bowfin, aka dogfish. They do look like a burbot (lawyer) somewhat, but are not closely related. Fish 2 is either a common or striped shiner, which are very similar, although there is not enough detail to the image to determine which.
4/26/2014 12:24:36 AM by Queen Of The Rock
I have never heard of a dan mcchoohie...but I have sat on that boulder and spit sunflower seed shells all over it. That flat piece of shale 3 feet above of that boulder is "The Queen Of The Rock" piece of shale. The river is rising a bit but still fishable. Queen
4/25/2014 12:28:39 PM by JIM
4/25/2014 11:53:55 AM by Steve
McCutcheon rock is the big boulder on the east side of the river at the first bend from the marina. Mike durkalec named it that because Dan McCutcheon is always bagging fish from that spot.
4/25/2014 10:09:40 AM by PJ
Happy to see folks not guessing "snakehead". I've heard of bowfins being caught and immediately beaten on a rock because people think they caught a snakehead in Ohio.
4/25/2014 7:27:02 AM by Anon
Matthew, Bass can be kept after a certain 'checkpoint' has been passed on the river. For instance, on the Rocky, any bass caught upstream of the Detroit Rd. bridge is legal to keep (no quantity or size limit). Pretty absurd but I guess they are self sustaining enough.
4/24/2014 11:31:47 PM by Queen Of The Rock
What is a "McCoochie Rock" from Steve's report? After 30 plus years on the Rocky I have never heard of a "McCoohie Rock". I have enough t-shirts.
4/24/2014 9:52:34 PM by lee
first fish is a lawyer
4/24/2014 9:07:54 PM by Matthew
bowfin cool! I thought it tricked me for a lingcod which I've been wanting to catch. In case anglers don't know, though they should, I don't think you can possess any black bass in lake erie or tributaries after april 30 to a certain date. Catch and release. I could be wrong but thats what I understood. Still fun to catch them :)
4/24/2014 7:45:23 PM by Nathaniel w
First fish is a bowfin, aka a dogfish. Don't know fish number 2
4/24/2014 6:27:08 PM by Nick M
Bowfin, and either a common or a striped shiner
4/24/2014 5:17:52 PM by Levi King
First fish is a Bowfin

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