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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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May 1, 2014

Posted: 5/1/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Tuesday May 6 morning update:  The Rocky River is in great shape with steelhead and lake-rub smallmouth bass biting well.  Some very nice size steelies have been taken the past two days.***

***Saturday May 3 morning update:  The Rocky River is stained, but fishable, this morning.  Conditions for tomorrow will be dependent upon how much rain we receive. If the flow at the gage link continues to drop, fishing conditions will be progressively better. Wallace Lake is offering a good largemouth bass and trout bite.***

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in mid-late spring include steelhead, stocked rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and panfish. The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently elevated and muddy and given the forecast will likely remain so for the weekend.  Anglers would be wise to check the flow gage trend before making a trip. 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>.   Wallace Lake is producing trout and the Lake Erie shoreline is offering an abundance of species including walleye at night, largemouth bass and various panfish.

When river levels recede it will answer speculation regarding whether or not any fresh steelhead have yet to run the river or if most have already done so.  Normally, most fish would be done spawning and on their way back to the lake by now, but it has been an abnormal year following the harsh, late winter.  Most of the steelhead formerly in the river have likely spawned and already headed back to the lake with the latest rise in flow.  Steelhead fishing was still good before the river muddied, with bait, fly and lure anglers all catching their share.  There should be at least a few steelhead in the rivers until at least mid-May this year, although I would expect their numbers to begin tapering off very quickly from this point forward.

If the steelhead run this season didn't set any records, the smallmouth bass run has been making up for it for many anglers.  The river is already receiving impressive numbers of these football shaped fighters, which average 1-4 pounds, and can often be taken on dark brown, olive or white jigs and flies about 3-4" in length.  Spinners and crankbaits have also been working.  These bass will continue to be present in the rivers until early June most years.  The entire Main Branch of the Rocky produces these bigger smallmouth, although the best fishing tends to be north of the Lorain Road bridge.  The area by the marina has had lots of emerald shiners present and smallmouth, steelhead (especially skippers) and white bass can be found actively feeding on them in this area.  The Chagrin and Cuyahoga rivers also receive good runs of these "bronzebacks". 
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 morning we stocked 600 pounds of rainbow trout in Wallace Lake since the rain spoiled river conditions.  This concludes the scheduled spring trout stockings, other than one in mid-May associated with the kids' fishing derbies on May 17-18.  Add these fish to those already 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 very good 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. As the river level recedes these trout will be well distributed.  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.  The largemouth bass and panfish bite has also been good at Wallace and other area lakes this week (see photo of a trophy largemouth bass caught and released this week below).

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.  The walleye night bite between 9-11:00pm has been good there this week.  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.

Baldwin Creek:  A Restoration Success Story!
   Over the past several years, a number of groups have been working to monitor and restore the habitat of Baldwin Creek, a Rocky River tributary in Berea.  These groups include the Rocky River Watershed Council, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, Baldwin Wallace University, Ohio EPA and, of course, Cleveland Metroparks.  A series of dams was removed last year, and state threatened central bigmouth shiners swim in the creek's waters.  An article about this success story is offered <here>.   

Monte Casey:  The "Silverback" Guide on the Rock.
   Monte Casey has been guiding steelhead anglers on the Rocky River since before many current steelheaders knew what a steelhead was, or before they were even born!  Monte is skilled at teaching any method to clients of any age/experience level, but he has a special knack for teaching fly fishing to young, senior and females anglers.  You can read an article about Monte in the paper this week <here>.

The Great Steelhead Rescue:  Too Good Not To Share Again.   Jeff Opperman of The Nature Conservancy wrote <this charming story> which reflects upon nature in the age of human domination last year, but since the tale occurs this time of year I wanted to share it again in case anyone missed it the first time.  It details his familys' experiences following the appearance of outsized steelhead in a tiny Chagrin River tributary in their backyard.  It never fails to make me smile each time I re-read it.

Lost and Found on the Rocky.  Over the past few weeks a fly rod and a box of lures were found on the Rocky River.  If you contact me with a matching description of any lost items I would like to get them reunited with their owners.

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,


Thomas was casting a small spinner at Wallace Lake one evening this week and landed this trophy largemouth bass.  The bruiser was released (photo courtesy of Tomas Daurelio).

Fabio (top photos) and Yuri were swinging spey flies on the Chagrin and hooked into an exciting mix of smallmouth bass and steelhead (photos courtesy of Fabio Malaspina).

DeAngelo caught this fine walleye casting from the Cleveland shoreline after dark on Monday.  Post spawn walleye have been biting along shoreline rip-rap at Edgewater and E72nd, and hit Husky Jerk and X-Rap lures well (photo courtesy of DeAngelo Williams).

Mary caught a buck steelie with colors that matched her jacket! (photo courtesy of Dave Kelch).

Sam caught this rainbow trout in the East Branch Rocky River on a 1/8 ounce black Rooster Tail spinner (photo courtesy of George Andrews).

Rusty caught some fine "bronzebacks" on the Rock over the weekend, including this dandy specimen (photo courtesy of Rusty Pollard).

Ken was still finding some fresh steelies in the river prior to the latest rains (photo courtesy of Ken Harper).

Another big fly caught smallmouth from the Rock this week.  This beast pounced on a scuplin pattern (photo courtesy of JB Mynes).

I've been giving Jake some guidance on steelhead fishing over the past two years and he shared this nice message: "
Hey Mike thank you so very much for all the tips and help. They have paid off so very much and I wanted to thank you. Here are a couple steelhead that I caught this week. We went out on Monday and Saturday night. My dad finally decided to pull through and buy a fly rod. Thank you very much and hope to see you soon." (photos and report courtesy of Jakob Martinez).

I have two offerings for the "Know Your Fish" challenge again this week.  A local angler sent in this image of a fish he wanted to identify.  He mentioned it was as pretty as any saltwater fish he's seen.  Can you name Fish 1 in the comments section? (photo courtesy of Chris Thompson).

John caught and released this nice smallmouth and trophy steelie in the northern Rock on his Fay's Lucille Jig pattern (photo courtesy of John Fay).

The Lake Erie harbors are offering all kinds of species right now, including largemouth bass, black crappie and northern pike, as pictured above.

Tony, who holds an MS degree in Natural Resources, relays "Well I took your advice and headed to the mouth of the Rocky today just south of the boat launch and I caught this beauty of a bruiser!  I was originally using a 1/24 oz. green and chartreuse spinner and something told me to change to a white 1/16 oz. spinner so I did.  About 8 minutes after changing my lure I caught this beauty around 2:58PM.  I'm surprised how lightly she bit my spinner considering her size.  At first I thought I had bumped the bottom of the Rock but it turns out it was a fish!" (photo and report courtesy of Tony).

Nate recently hooked his second steelie on a dry fly, which is quite a feat.  The first was on a Bomber pattern last year.  Both came from the Rock (photos courtesy of Nate Adams).

Randy took his good buddy Bear with him to test out the homemade split cane fly rod (including the blank) he constructed recently, and it was a success they both enjoyed (photos courtesy of Randy Gerrick).

I played informal guide to good friend Eugene Braig recently and he hooked a half dozen steelies and a surprise smallie that bit a spawn sack.

Anglers may notice black blothes on some of the bass they catch.  This phenomenon, known as hyperpigmented melanosis, is a quirk in skin pigmentation that causes the fish no harm.  One angler noted it gives the fish "character" (photo courtesy of Rusty Pollard).

A trout fisher at Bonnie Park reeled in an orange surprise...a non-native goldfish (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).

Jake reports "Monday steelhead were all over the place in packs and spawning pairs in the riffles. The fishing only got better during the rain because they didn’t spook as easy.  Seems to me in the past several days the fish have been bigger and bigger.  Saw some monster females yesterday on the East Branch.  A lot of carp are starting to show up and the suckers are getting less and less abundant." (photos and report courtesy of Jake Powers).

College students sampling Baldwin Creek with Metroparks staff.  An article about successful restoration efforts on the stream can be found at this <link>.

This is Fish 2 for this week's "Know Your Fish" challenge, as sent in by a local angler.  Please take your guesses in the comments section and I will post the answer there in a few days (photo courtesy of Brittan Battles).

While out on patrol one of our Rangers snapped this shot of father and son Craig and Cory enjoying some river time together (photo courtesy of Ranger Sgt. Owen Conroy).

While sampling a Chagrin River tributary last week with a school group we came across several wild steelhead parr (the stage right before smolting) that had survived the brutal winter in the tiny stream (photo courtesy of Owen Lockhart, Cleveland Metroparks).

Joe (pictured) and his brother PJ had a great day fishing small white streamers for aggressive steelies near the split of the two branches of the Rock (photo courtesy of PJ Filipowicz at

Sean caught this rock bass in the Rocky River, which seems appropriate (photo courtesy of Sean Fenton).

Chuck displays a nice steelhead caught a long way upstream on a branch of the Rock (photo courtesy of Steve Nyetrae).

Daniel caught this steelie in a Cuyahoga River feeder creek on a white marabou Muddler Minnow fly (photo courtesy of Daniel Holmes).

Metroparks registered fisging guide Patrick Campbell had a fine day in North Chagrin Reservation, enjoying the wildlife as much as the steelhead.  Eagles are nesting on the Rocky, Chagrin and Cuyahoga rivers this year and keen eyed anglers can sometimes get a glimpse of them while on the rivers.  All Metroparks registered guides are listed following this report (photos courtesy of Patrick Campbell).

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>


5/3/2014 9:35:03 AM by Mike Durkalec
Adam, those docks are at E55th Marina. Jeff, the guy in the photos, docks his boat there which is why he can fish inside the marina. But anyone can fish the east shore at the park, which is the best spot, or from a small watercraft.
5/3/2014 9:31:47 AM by Mike Durkalec
Fish 1 is a greenside darter, which does look similar to a rainbow darter. Fish 2 is a tough one, and is a central stoneroller minnow. Nice job, Steve, on getting both correct and good job, Gavin, on identifying the stoneroller.
5/2/2014 11:31:55 PM by Queen Of The Rock
Muddy water and no one around to interrupt your' swing...priceless. you don't need to SEE a fish to catch it. Muddy water and fish at hand. I need to see to believe...debunked.
5/2/2014 11:25:15 PM by Queen Of The Rock
Come on Randy...East Branch...really! BUNNY SLOPE! Fished today in muddy water down low with no "I need to see to believe" anglers. No other anglers but my fly and fish. Fished lazors and egg suckers. The out come was spectacular.
5/1/2014 11:01:16 PM by Queen Of The Rock
The East Branch of the Rock is great! You can throw the same fly at the same fish for 8 hours....then you eventually hook that fish. The only thing better is the trout pond at the IX Center. If you see a trout in 12" of water, dust off the fly rod!
5/1/2014 10:16:58 PM by Steve Zarzeczny
Fish number one..etheostoma blenniodes (greenside Darter). Fish number two..Campostoma anomalum(Central Stoneroller)
5/1/2014 10:16:55 PM by Steve Zarzeczny
Fish number one..etheostoma blenniodes (greenside Darter). Fish number two..Campostoma anomalum(Central Stoneroller)
5/1/2014 10:10:46 PM by Gavin nupp
Gonna have to say rainbow for the darter and I think central stone roller.
5/1/2014 5:17:43 PM by Matthew
Dunno what marina he fishes at but I think he had caught the bowfin last week also
5/1/2014 3:24:10 PM by Adam
Hello, can anyone please identify the dock areas where that gentleman was catching the largemouth bass, black crappie and northern pike. I would certainly like to give those docks a try! Thank you
5/1/2014 9:39:20 AM by PJ
Rainbow darter! Those are gorgeous- always wanted to hold one if just for a brief second.

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