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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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January 23, 2014

Posted: 1/23/2014
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in winter include stocked rainbow trout, steelhead and panfish.  The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently full of slush and ice with no immediate end in sight.  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>   Anglers have been ice fishing on Metroparks lakes and ponds all week.

Steelhead fishing opportunities in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers are currently very limited due to slush and ice, and given the forecast there is no immediate end in sight.  There was a brief window of opportunity late last week and some of the anglers who got out made some impressive catches with some large fish in the mix, as evidenced by the photos below.  An option worth a look at the moment is the Cuyahoga River, which is slower to freeze up in winter than some of our other streams. 

Lake Erie shoreline open water fishing opportunities are no longer available due to pack ice pushed up along the shoreline and a dangerous coating of ice covering shoreline structures.  On the other hand, solid ice is available in protected nearshore areas, such as East 55th and Wildwood marinas and Gordon Park.  Edgewater Marina access will be closed off this winter for hurricane damage related repairs to the area.  These areas offer ice fishing opportunities for steelhead and smelt, among other species, which will heat up as winter progresses.

The final scheduled winter stocking of trout had to be delayed this week due to an emergency with our trout supplier and I am hoping that we can reschedule this activity for mid to late next week.  Anglers can check back in on the fishing report for updates as available.  The stocking will be a duplicate of the one conducted in early December with a total of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout stocked 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 known as golden rainbows.

Ice fishers have noted fair to good ice fishing success this week.  Trout have been biting on PowerBait fished near the bottom, dime size spawn sacks, small jigs tipped with maggots or a waxworm suspended below a small bobber and jigging spoons (smaller size KastMaster, Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple have all been producing).  One common mistake I see is folks using bobbers too big for light winter bites, needing one only big enough to keep the bait afloat.  For anglers looking for species in addition to trout, bluegill have also been caught on small ice spoons tipped with maggots or a waxworm, and some largemouth bass have been taken on jigging spoons. A few trophy bass were taken this week, as evidenced by the photos that follow this report.  Panfish and bass tend to be more structure oriented in winter than trout.

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.”  Please be aware of this because we've recieved a few complaints about anglers using non-legal versions of tip-ups recently, and our Rangers will be out checking.

Although ice is as good as it's been in several years on local lakes, caution should always be advised.  It's always a good idea to use a spud bar near shore and check the ice thickness, and if it is > 4 inches then walk out a little further and check as you go.  Ice is often thinnest right at the water's edge and around inlets and outlets of the waterbody.  Other safety tips are to always fish with a friend, let someone know where you'll be, carry a pair of ice spikes around your neck and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing. 

Minnesota Matt's Quest for the Golden Rainbow
.   I've known Matt Pedersen of Duluth, Minnesota, for over a decade through the fishing grapevine.  We've fished for salmonids together in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa and, of course, Ohio.  Matt's "other life" is also fishy, as he is an internationally noted saltwater and tropical fish breeder.  He is senior editor/associate publisher of Coral and Amazonas magazines, co-author of a noted book on cardinalfish and is the guy behind <The Lightning Project>, among other feats of the aquarium world.  It was this expertise that brought Matt to the Cleveland area for a talk to a group of saltwater enthusiasts at our Zoo last Friday evening.  While in town Matt and I, along with a small group of similarly fish minded friends, planned to hit the ice for a bit of trout fishing.  Matt had observed photos of the unique golden rainbow trout being caught locally in the Fishing Report Blog as well as posted by friends on Facebook, and expressed that he would love to catch one himself. 

So our goal was set.  On Saturday afternoon we headed to the Wallace Lake just off the swimming beach area in water about 6 feet deep.  As it turned out attaining that goal didn't take long.  Within the first hour on the ice Matt landed a healthy golden rainbow on a dime size pink spawn sack, followed by a regular rainbow.  A short while later he reported that he missed a light strike then looked down the hole and saw an unmistakably bright yellow trout swim by, only to drop his bait back down the hole to watch the trout rush back and grab it right in front of him!  He landed that one, as well.  All said, we landed four trout and missed a handful of others.  We also observed several other anglers catch trout, including a mother and son who came out for the last hour of the day and each landed a trout.  Most fish that day were taken on PowerBait and spawn sacks set between 3-6 feet deep.  All in all it was a very pleasant evening on the ice.  Mission accomplished!  Photos from the afternoon are posted below.

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,


Kirstine and Jake caught trophy size rainbow trout at Ledge and Wallace lakes this week (photos courtesy of Jake Powers).

Joyce was among those lucky anglers who hit a short window of opportunity on the Rock late last week, and was rewarded with this 32" beast buck.  The river is currently locked up with ice (photo courteasy of Lance Masarik).

Wild Bill got a huge surprise this week while jigging a tiny Pin-Min tipped with a waxworm.  At first he thought he had latched onto a good size catfish, until the gaping maw of this 22" largemouth bass weighing 6 pounds came through the hole!  Bill reports that the chunky fish barely fit through the hole.  He is having the trophy bass mounted (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).

Mike was fly fishing the Rock by the first riffle last Friday and landed this ultra chunky hen steelie in a white and red streamer fly.  The 30" fish had a girth of about 21" (photos courtesy of Chuck Mechling).

This mother and son team both caught rainbow trout at Wallace Lake on Saturday afternoon.  The fish bit PowerBait fished near the bottom by the swimming area.

Dale was another lucky angler who landed a trophy bass through the ice this week.  The big fish was one of five landed using small jigs that day (photo courtesy of Terry). 

Noted marine fish breeder Matt Pedersen was in town to give a talk at our Zoo this past weekend and we had a successful ice fishing outing on Saturday afternoon.  See the report highlight for details on Matt's trip.

Dan and Jesse were two more lucky anglers who hit the Rock perfectly diuring a short window of prime conditions late last week, as evidenced by photos of a few of the many fish they landed offered above.  A highlight was Dan's 10+ pound buck steelie in the top photo (photos courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).

Leon Bibb, pillar of the local news community, visited Wallace Lake to film a My Ohio segment about ice fishing last week.  While the fishing proved to be slow that day, Leon realized there is more to fishin' than just the catchin'.  The segment can be viewed <here>.

Scott and Steve got a limit catch of walleye ice fishing by the Lake Erie islands last Friday (photos courtesy of Scott).

Scott makes his best Snow Angel on frozen Wallace Lake on Saturday.  Or is that a Snow Osprey, since he's holding a trout? (photo courtesy of Scott Heidrich).


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>


1/30/2014 5:19:26 PM by Mike Durkalec
Trout stocking is scheduled for Friday (1/31) afternoon at Wallace and Ranger lakes, and tentatively for Wednesday February 5 for Shadow, Ledge and Judge's lakes.
1/29/2014 7:47:11 PM by creekcrawler
Any updates on the next trout stocking?
1/29/2014 1:14:09 AM by Ken Metz
Sorry I meant opinion
1/29/2014 1:12:27 AM by Ken Metz
I would be proud of a 6 lb. bass, but what happened to catch and release ? Just my opion
1/26/2014 12:30:33 AM by Mike Durkalec
Thank you for sharing the story of your first steelhead success, Matt!
1/25/2014 5:14:21 PM by Matthew
Hey Mike, I met a guy at ranger lk that once caught a trout in July one a worm and bobber. He was as surprised as I when he told me that. I wish ohio's lakes held trout all year long but thats why i go to canada :) Thanks very much for your blog by the way. I was able to catch my first three steelies this year. I caught them at the wall between 72 and the E 55 wall. 1 on a fly jig and maggots and other two on cleo green spoons as you've described. I'll try my luck on the rock or chagrin in the spring when temps warm up. I'm not experienced at all river fishing. Still much thanks!

1/25/2014 3:18:33 AM by Justin
By those measurements, that hen steelhead was probably about 19.17 pounds using a formula found in Dec Hogan's "Passion for Steelhead" (Length*Girth²/690).
1/24/2014 3:43:57 PM by Mike Durkalec
Thank you for the feedback everyone. I will attest, though, that I know Bill personally and he releases 99% of the non-trout fish he catches. I can't fault him for having such a trophy mounted, although I too love to see folks release larger gamefish. As for your comment, Matt, Ledge Lake is fairly deep and spring fed and holds trout the longest into summer of any Metroparks inland lake, which is inline with your observation. I've had reports of trout as late as August there in a cooler summer.
1/24/2014 2:28:18 PM by Tony - Berea, Ohio
I agree with PJF. Catch yourself some big ones, take the picture to someone who does replicas, and practice catch and release. We want our children and our children's children to be able to experience all of the joys that we have experienced in the outdoors. Not everything caught has to be kept and eaten. I see too many guys that feel they have to keep everything they catch, even fish so small that they would fit into a fish bowl
1/24/2014 4:02:46 AM by Matthew
Those steelies are fat!!! Even that stocker from ledge is big. I caught some big ones 2 years ago when we had that summer like march. Caught em on twistertails trying for anything else but trout and got a nice surprise. mine were only about 2 pounds though
1/24/2014 2:28:37 AM by Widget_Master
Let's not shame someone who keeps their catch; they have every right to and paid for that right by buying a fishing licence.
1/23/2014 5:47:10 PM by PJF
That big steel hen is a fatty!!!! Nice walleyes too. Shame though to kill a 6-lb. bass for a mount. 6-pounders are not uncommon in Ohio... can catch several a year around here, but to wipe one out for a mount is really too bad. Next time consider a good replica!

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