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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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December 19, 2013

Posted: 12/19/2013
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Tuesday December 24 afternoon update:  The Rocky River is ice free and dropping in level nicely, but is still very muddy.  At this rate the river should be on the outskirts of stained but fishable Christmas day, but realistically should offer better conditions on Thursday and Friday.  Inland lakes and ponds are offering rapidly disappearing patches of open water that will be iced over in a day or two, and the Lake Erie shoreline waves are kicked up and the water is muddy.***

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in early winter include steelhead and stocked rainbow trout, with anglers also targeting walleye and panfish.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are mostly slush and ice filled, although that will very likely transition to elevated and muddy with the impending thaw.  Rain and warmer temperatures will also deteriorate the quality of the ice currently on area lakes, making ice fishing unsafe.  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 have been very limited this week due to slush and ice.  Yet, a small number of dedicated river anglers have been focusing efforts on the few open areas.  This scenario is likely to change very soon, though, as warmer temperature and rain will lead to elevated and muddy river flows.  But the good news is the rivers will be free of ice again, and when they recede will offer good winter steelhead fishing opportunities.  Baits such as spawn sacks, live minnows or small jigs tipped with maggots are typically the best winter producers.  

Steelhead and walleye fishing opportunities from the shore at Lakefront Reservation are still available depending on Lake Erie wave conditions.  Anglers can view current lake conditions off Cleveland at the following link: <City Of Cleveland Water Intake Crib Cam>.  Although action has slowed over the past few weeks, the east facing wall at East 55th Street access is still producing some steelies.  Shoreline rocks at Edgewater Park, Wildwood Park and Huntington Reservation are ice covered and unsafe to venture on at this time.  Anglers have been catching lakefront steelhead most consistently on an offering dubbed "The Smorgasbord" by the locals, which consists of a small 1/32 oz marabou jig or painted jighead tipped with several maggots and two or three small emerald shiners suspended a few feet under a bobber.  Casting spoons, like a 2/5 oz Little Cleo, is always worth a try, as well.

Walleye opportunities still exist after dark off East 72nd Street/Gordon Park access, although a set of ice cleats is a very good idea.  Walleye in recent weeks have been taken on Husky Jerk, X-Rap, Rattlin Rogue and Rattle Trap crankbaits.  For both the walleye and steelhead shoreline fisheries, the action tends to come in spurts and anglers need to bring a long handled landing net and should be very careful and avoid ice covered shoreline rocks.  

Last week a total of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked in five Cleveland Metroparks lakes.  The fish were distributed 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 that are known as golden rainbows or  "palominos".  Unfortunately, the good ice that had already formed will rapidly deteriorate with the coming rain and thaw.  In the meantime, anglers can target these trout from the safety of fishing platfoms and docks, as well as from deeper water from shore in several areas at Wallace Lake due to the former sandstone quarry nature of the lake.  Most state conservation agencies recommend at least 4" of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish.  Trout have been caught this week most consistently on PowerBait (chartreuse has been hot) fished near the lake bottom with a small weight.  Jigging spoons, such as gold or silver Forage Minnows and Kastmasters, worked near the lake bottom have been taking trout, as well.

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,


Joey caught this fine Ledge Lake trout over the weekend, one of several taken with his father Gary (photo courtesy of Gary Brant).

I was driving along the Rocky River parkway today and saw an angler fighting a fish in an open spot in the ice.  I stopped just in time to watch Shawn land this nice hen brown trout, which happens to be the third brownie he has taken from the river this year.  The fish bit a live minnow.

Joe caught his first rainbow trout through the ice on PowerBait on Tuesday at Wallace Lake.  He would have accomplished this feat about a half hour earlier if he had been paying closer attention, as another trout pulled one of Joe's rods into the lake through the hole when he wasn't looking! (photo courtesy of Joe Boewe). 

Justin found a slot of open water in the Rock this past weekend out of which he produced this purple hued hen steelie.  Justin was interviewed as part of a winter steelhead fishing article for the December 2013 issue of Great Lakes Angler magazine, where he will divulge some of his tricks to us! (photo courtesy of Justin Telep).

Doug caught this quality size rainbow trout while ice fishing at Ledge Lake yesterday (photo courtesy of Doug Shore).

Many anglers scored trout through the ice on Cleveland Metroparks lakes this week on PowerBait and jigging spoons.  Unfortunately any good ice will be short lived with the impending thaw and rain.

Although the action has slowed the past few weeks, the east facing wall at East 55th Street access still has some steelhead available within reach of shoreline anglers, as well as a lot of elbow room.

Anglers were beginning to cautiously venture onto Wallace Lake ice on Monday.  Unfortunately, the ice will quickly deteriorate to unsafe with the coming thaw (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).

Brian shared photos of a few rainbow trout he caught through the ice while sitting on the safety of shore this week, as well as his last Wallace Lake largemouth bass of the fall (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).

Grayson is being introduced to high end steelhead gear at a tender age by his mother Melanie, to the excitement of his grandfather Bob!  This lad will be an up and comer to watch out for on our local streams in the coming years (photo courtesy of Melanie Says).

Snowy owls, such as this specimen I spotted at Edgewater Park on Wednesday, are peppering the lakefront parks this winter in unprecedented numbers.  A lemming population crash in their normal wintering grounds has the birds spreading out to new locations with more prey available.  These bold raptors are going after just about anything they see, from waterfowl and seagulls to rats and squirrels!

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>


12/26/2013 5:25:01 AM by sherman
The rivers will never be what they were 20-30 years ago. The days of seeing a single angler besides yourself in a mile stretch of water is longggggg gone. The pressure form the new generation of "experts" is way too heavy.
Just remember those great days of old(steelhead,coho, and salmon) & keep those memories safe. Fishing pressure will only increase in the years to come. Things change, that's just the way it is.

To The Good Old Days!
12/21/2013 6:50:40 PM by Brown eye trout
What gives you the right to fish and no one else you say ? That's
one of my points, I can't even go down there and enjoy myself and
fish anymore because of the circus that's going on down there.
Don't care about my spelling and grammer on posting a comment on something. Why do you lames emidiatly { don't care can spell
immediately } try using the " learn how to spell " card when they respond. Lame. elementary. Then you say everyone would pay taxes
for things that only benefit you. Sounds like your presedent
{don't care } that you love so much and voted for. god dam liberal.
12/20/2013 9:24:37 PM by trouser jerk
Opinions are like......, which you are. Learn to spell and use good grammar and you opinions might be taken more seriously. You are mad because more people are fishing on public lands. What gives you the right to fish and no one else? I bet if it was up to you, everyone would pay taxes for things that only benefit you.
12/20/2013 8:19:12 PM by trouser trout
This has been the worst run of steelhead this season
in the past 20 years. Every year it's getting worser
and worser. Less and less fish returning, and more and
more people fishing for them. No river Management.Stocking
the wrong strains of steelhead because it's cheaper. At
this rate we will have no more fall fish coming up within 2-3
years. The DNR is doing a great job ruining our fisheries.
Look at it down there compared to 10 years ago. Enough said.
DNR your not doing it right ! You guys are ruining it for us.
Them goofy 80's babies can't think right.

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