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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 15, 2014

Posted: 5/15/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in late spring include steelhead, stocked rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and panfish. The big news thios week has been flooding of epic proportions.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently exhibiting elevated and muddy conditions with more rain on the way, which does not bode well for weekend river fishing prospects.  Anglers may check the latest flow data at the following links: <Rocky River flow gage data> <Chagrin River flow gage data>.   Although the water is currently muddy, the Lake Erie shoreline has been offering an abundance of species including walleye at night, largemouth/smallmouth bass and various panfish.

Prior to the flooding this week anglers were still hooking decent numbers of steelhead in the rivers.  For all intents and purposes, the flooding and warmer weather this week will signal the end of the spring steelhead season, although a few stragglers may remain available through the end of May.

When river levels recede, anglers can expect the good lake-run smallmouth bass fishing to resume.  The river has been offering 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.
With the warmer temperatures channel catfish and carp are beginning to show up in the northern reaches of local rivers, as well.  Catfish hang out in deeper holes, especially those with some woody cover in the water and bite best at dawn and dusk, unless the water is muddy under which conditions they'll bite throughout the day.  Catfish bite best on the river bottom with an egg slip sinker holding down baits such as nightcrawlers, chicken liver (it lasts much longer if tied up in mesh spawn sack style), fish cutbait, and shrimp.  Some steelhead anglers take out their drift gear and use floats for catfish, which works great as long as you set your depth to be very close to or on the river bottom.

Hard fighting carp bite well on baits like canned corn, worms, doughbaits and crayfish fished on the river bottom in holes.  Gaining in popularity is the challenge of catching carp on the fly rod, with a few local outfitters even offering seminars on this topic from time to time.  The best strategy is to spot visible carp slowly moving with nose down and tail up in runs, often trailed by a muddy plume, all of which indicate feeding behavior.  Cruising carp, on the  other hand, will rarely bite a fly.  Since carp have a great sense of smell but poor eyesight, the fly should be gently dropped a few feet ahead of a feeding fish and only twitched ever so slightly as the fish approaches.  Strikes are so subtle they are often not even felt, but are indicated by a pause in the fish's movement.  Some equate this syle of fishing to that employed by bonefish anglers on the tropical flats, even earning carp the nickname of "golden bonefish" among fly anglers.  In fact, bonefish style flies like a Crazy Charlie work well for carp, as do nymph, bugger and crayfish patterns.  If you are up for the challenge take out the steelhead fly rod and give it a try this year.

Although regularly scheduled rainbow trout stocking has concluded for the spring season, there are plenty of trout left to catch.  Areas stocked this spring include Wallace Lake (2,150 pounds), East Branch Rocky River (1,700 pounds), Hinckley Lake (2,500 trout by ODNR) and Shadow Lake (500 trout by ODNR).  The East Branch Rocky River is stocked between Royalton Road (Rt. 82) and the ford crossing just south of Wallace Lake. The DNR stocked trout are pan-size (11-12"), while the Metroparks stocked fish are running several 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.  Please note:  Wallace Lake north of the swimming area and the Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area will be clearly posted as closed to fishing from Thursday morning through the kid's fishing derbies this weekend.  Wallace Lake will not be closed to the south of the swimming area during this time, though.

Although the water is currently muddy, this past week the Lake Erie shoreline and harbors have been offering largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, rock bass, smallmouth bass, white bass and northern pike, among other species. Looking for shallower water with structure, especially emerging weedbeds, is a good strategy for largemouth, pike and panfish. White and silver spinnerbaits, tube jgs, rubber worms and crankbaits can all 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. A small watercraft can increase an angler's opportunities for this type of fishing.  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 recently.  The north facing pier at E55th has also been producing some catches of yellow perch for anglers fishing emerald shiners on the lake bottom. White bass respond well to an agitator and jig dropper fished in the E 55th and Eb 72nd areas. 

Spring Children’s Fishing Derbies This Weekend.  Our highly popular annual kid’s fishing derbies are coming up on Saturday May 17 at the Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area and Sunday May 18 at Wallace Lake. The event is free, fish will be stocked for the event, and fishing gear and bait will be provided for those in need at no cost. For more information, you can check the following link: <May 17 Fishing Derby Info>  <May 18 Fishing Derby Info>Photos from the 2013 event can be viewed at the following link: <2013 Fishing Derby photos>.

Thank You To The Runzheimer Foundation.  Thank you to the Runzheimer Foundation for supporting the Cleveland Metroparks fisheries program with a $5,000 donation this week!

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,


Brady caught this nice steelhead by the Puritas Road bridge on Saturday (photo courtesy of Jon Zuccola).

Aaron caught his first smallmouth bass of the season this week (photo courtesy of Andy).

Due to the popularity of Camp Hickley another week was added from June 30-July 2.  More info <here> (photo courtesy of Brecksville Nature Center staff).

Sarah landed some BIG Lake Erie walleye and smallmouth bass recently (photos courtesy of tom Klamert).

Lance caught some bruiser smallmouth bass, and a bonus largemouth bass, in the northern Rock on crankbaits (photos courtesy of Lance Masarik).

Danny caught this walleye casting off the Cleveland shoreline rocks on Saturday night (photo courtesy of Corey Butram).

This lucky angler caught some jumbo yellow perch and a bonus 16" walleye fishing minnows on the bottom at E 55th north breakwall on Friday.

Charlie reports another great week of steelhead fly fishing on the Rock (photos courtesy of Charlie Seibolt).

Justin caught this giant smallmouth bass along the Gordon Park breakwall on a red craw colored Rapala Rippin' Rap (photo courtesy of Lana Holdash).

Matt landed this gorgeous 28" walleye at E 72nd Street at Gordon Park on Saturday night on a Husky Jerk 14 crankbait.  He also observed a beaver at Edgewater Park (photos courtesy of Matt Neuzil).

DeAngelo had a great day of bass fishing at E5 5th Street Marina this week, landing 15 largemouth and smallmouth on 6" rubber worms.  He also lost two bruisers (photos courtesy of DeAngelo Williams).

Ryan, John and Logan display a few of many quality smallmouth bass they caught in the Rock on 4.5" tube jigs and white twister tail jigs this week (photos courtesy of Ryan Appenzeller).

This angler caught four nice channel catfish by the Black Wall just upstream of the marina the day before the storm hit.  The largest cat was in the 30" size class (photo courtesy of Mionte Casey).

Craig caught some big Rocky River steelies on the fly rod this week (photos courtesy of Craig Delewski).

John caught this spunky bluegill from a local pond (photo courtesy of John Dieringer).

Fabio and Yuriy wrapped up their steelhead season on the Chagrin River with a few more beauties caught on swung streamers and indicator rigs (photos courtesy of Fabio Malaspina).

Now that it's warming up the carp are getting active.  Jake caught this one below the Route 82 dam on the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville Reservation (photo courtesy of Jake Powers).

For the Know Your Fish Challenge this week I offer the specimen above.  Please be as specific as possible with your guesses as to the fish's identity in the comments section, and I will post the answer there in a few days (photos courtesy of Justin Marconi).

Scotty caught some scrappy largemouth bass on crankbaits at his go-to spot in Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation (photos courtesy of Scotty Denham).

Owen reported before the flooding "I fished near the marina from 5 until 9pm this evening, and landed 8 smallmouth and a sheephead.  The smallies were pretty aggressive from 8 to 9, catching only 1 smallmouth and the sheephead from 6-8pm.  All fish were landed on small black/silver Rapala Husky Jerks.  I tried other presentations (Rooster Tails, etc) and a few guys were using jigs and streamers without much luck.  The best smallmouth of the evening was about 18".  Fishing pressure was surprisingly light, given the time of year and nice weather." (photo and report courtesy of Owen Lockhart).

Troy caught several rainbow trout this size swinging streamers way upstream on the Chagrin River.  Given the location, they may very well be wild (stream bred) juvenile steelhead trout (photo courtesy of Troy Shirley).

David and friends rounded out the season with some nice Rocky River steelies (photos courtesy of David DiYanni).

In case you live in a hole in the ground and didn't hear, the flooding this week was incredible!  The "speed bump" in this imagwe is Lagoon Dam on the Rocky (photo courtesy of Zach Kaczmarski).

Managing a park district largely situated within a floodplain has its challenges.  Among them many recently repaved/relined sections of parkway were heavily damaged by flooding this week (photos courtesy of Kyle Hinderer).

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>


5/16/2014 9:53:19 PM by Dana
Thinking male bullhead chub, definetly a male in spawning mode either way.
5/16/2014 12:10:32 AM by Queen Of The Rock
Those cats will taste great...but open the bellies in order to find used condoms and cigarette butts and then decide whether to eat or not. Craig, shallow water fishing for spawner's at the "parking lot" is oldddddddddd school. GRADUATE
5/15/2014 10:38:22 PM by Tim
Horny Head Chub
5/15/2014 5:45:56 PM by PJ
Cheer up Scotty! Sheesh man... they're nice bass!
5/15/2014 4:07:50 PM by Steve Z.
I'll say breeding male river chub (Nocomis micropogon)
5/15/2014 4:02:14 PM by Gavin Nupp
River chub, (Nocomis Micropogon) because of the dark forehead, tubercles, and pink underside. If this was farther south, I'd probably guess bluehead.
5/15/2014 3:13:43 PM by Nick
For the Know Your Fish Challenge, my guess is river chub. Pretty sure it's not a hornyhead chub, and it's definitely not a creek chub...

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