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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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Rocky River Fishing Report - August 2012

Posted: 8/1/2012
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

SPECIAL NOTE:  Wallace Lake is closed to fishing until August 27 and boating until a yet to be determined date.  See the highlight section below for details.

As we move into late-summer, highlight species targeted by anglers along the Rocky River watershed are panfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, carp, and channel catfish.  Overall, the river has been low in level for much of the summer.  To monitor the most recent river water level and temperature you can check the following link: <river flow gage data>    

Summer means family fishing time for many folks, and panfish fit the bill perfectly for a leisurely picnic and fishing outing.  Bluegill and other sunfish species can be taken with a number of offerings, but a waxworm or redworm on a small hook (or tiny jig) suspended under a stick float and fished around a weedbed or shoreline brush is always a good choice.  Hinckley Lake, Beyers Pond, Oxbow Lagoon, Ledge Lake, and deeper holes in the Rocky  and Chagrin rivers are just a few of many places in the Park to wet a line for various panfish species.  General park fishing information can be found at the following link:  <Fishing in Cleveland Metroparks>

Smallmouth bass are typically found in the deeper, rocky pools of the river during the day in summer (especially during low water periods as we have been experiencing), and often move to the heads of such pools in the early morning and evening hours to actively feed. Hot and sunny mid-day periods typically offer the slowest fishing.  A dark olive or brown tube jig of about 4” length is one of the best producers of bass in the river.  “Smallies” also bite well on live bait (ie: minnow, crayfish, and leeches), lures (ie: spinners and minnow plugs), and flies (ie: crayfish patterns, Clouser minnows, dark brown or olive sculpin or muddler minnow patterns).  There are abundant small to medium sized bass in the river along with a few resident trophy fish up to (and over) 20 inches in length.  Anglers are always encouraged to release the larger bass so that these fine gamefish can be enjoyed again. 

Channel catfish and large carp are found throughout the river in summer, and fishing for them can be a laid back and relaxing proposition.  Channel catfish can be caught in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers, as well as locations like the Ohio & Erie Canal Fishing Area.  Catfishing is usually best during lower light conditions using baits such as nightcrawlers, minnows, chicken liver, and processed dough baits fished right on the bottom with a medium size hook and sinker with just about any type of tackle.

Carp are among the largest fish available to anglers during the summer month, and can often be caught throughout the day on such bait as canned corn, carp dough baits, worms or crayfish tails.  A growing rank of fly anglers looking for a challenge are targeting visible carp with nymphs and crayfish imitations, as well.  The key to fishing for either carp, like with catfish, is fishing on (or very near) the river/lake bottom.

Lake Erie boaters out of the Emerald Necklace marina have been making good catches of yellow perch most of this summer.  Fishing near the lake bottom with perch speaders and live or salted emerald shiners in 40 FOW off the Cleveland shoreline.  Anglers working the riprap along the city shoreline have been making good catches of rock bass and various other intermixed species.  Walleye trolling has been good in around 60’ of water north of the city.  Details can be found in the ODNR Lake Erie fishing report available at the <ODNR Lake Erie fishing report>.   

Special Natural Resources Management Notice:  Wallace Lake temporarily closed to fishing and boating.   Last summer a very aggressive non-native plant was found in Wallace Lake and two Cleveland Metroparks wetlands, which were the first records of this plant in northern Ohio.  The plant, Hydrilla, was sparsely present in the southern basin of the lake, and was treated (and killed wherever found) with aquatic herbicide.  Continued monitoring noted it had spread appreciably by early this summer, so a full lake herbicide treatment was conducted on Friday July 27.  An interdepartmental meeting of Cleveland Metroparks managers recently agreed that boating and fishing are the most likely modes of transport/spread of this plant to new locations, so fishing in the lake is closed (and clearly posted) from July 27-August 27 while the systemic herbicide kills the plant back.  The lake was also closed to all non-Cleveland Metroparks watercraft on July 27 and will be banned in the lake until a yet to be determined date.  Swimming was not deemed an activity with an elevated risk of spreading the plant, so it will continue as normal in the lake.  The lake is Cleveland Metroparks most popular ice fishing destination, and this should not affect winter fishing or stocking of trout in any way.  Thank you for your patience during this important management activity, and if you wish to find an alternate fishing location nearby please feel free to contact me for more information.  For more information on Hydrilla, you can check the following link:  <USDA Hydrilla info>

Do you have a used plastic aquarium you would like to donate?   We like to recycle and reuse whenever possible, and are in need of used plastic (no glass please) aquariums, ideally rectangular or nearly so, to use as specimen viewing containers during educational outings.  It is OK if they are scratched, but should not be cracked.  Please contact me if you may be in a position to help.  Thank you!

If you have a photo that you would like to contribute to the fishing report, or if you have any further questions regarding fishing in the Cleveland Metroparks, you may contact Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec at (440) 331-8017 or .

Good Fishing,



Nice catches of yellow perch are still being made off the Cleveland shoreline (photos courtesy of Jonathan Brauer).


Bill shows off a pair of trophy Lake Erie walleye caught off the mouth of the Rocky River recently.  He was trolling Reef Runner 800 deep diving crankbaits 70' behind his boat in only 18-25 foot of water (photo courtesy of Bill Marquard).


On an after work trip on Lake Erie aboard recent Ohio Sea Grant retiree Dave Kelch's fishing boat we caught a mix of walleye, rock bass, smallmouth bass, and sheepshead casting weight forward spinners, but Sarah's monster sheepshead stole the show!  Sarah is Extension Educator for Ohio Sea Grant.


A duo of youngsters try their hand at fishing off a dock at Bunns Lake (photo courtesy of Brian Augustine).


Nathaniel has been making catches of channel catfish and freshwater drum (sheepshead) fishing on the bottom in the Rocky River.  These catfish measured 24" and 26" (photos courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).


Congratulations to Kyle on catching this Fish Ohio 28" walleye off Cleveland on a pink spoon in 40 foot of water, his first of the season! (photo courtesy of Kyle Ratocki).


Doug had another great month of largemouth bass fishing local lakes from his kayak and from shore. His detailed records show that he caught and released 85 bass in July, topped by a 21 inch trophy and two additional fish over 20 inches (photos courtesy of Doug Mouat).


Jake is younger than most folks that career shadow me, but this young man is exceptionally inquisitive, intelligent, motivated, and respectful.  I was a pleasure having him along on several days, including one recent 12.5 hour day in which his assistance was greatly appreciated.


Wallace Lake is currently closed to fishing (until August 27) and boating (until a yet to be determined date) for Natural Resources management activities.  See the report text for details.


Fabio continues to pursue the gamefish of the Chagrin River with his flyrod long after the steelhead are gone, as evidenced by this fine smallmouth bass taken on a streamer (photo courtesy of Fabio Malaspina).


Mike has been chasing a number of species, inlcuding bass and carp, in the rivers and lakes throughout the area this summer (photos courtesy of Mike Kovalski).


Brian rented a rowboat on Hinckley Lake and caught a fine largemouth bass recently, as well as his biggest bass to date at another Cleveland Metroparks lake (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).


Phil has been catching some fine channel catfish, carp, and sheepshed in the Chagrin River and Lake Erie this summer.  Phil captures video of his fishing exploits on a nifty headmout video camera, and a clip of his carp being caught can be viewed at the following link:  <24.5 inch Chagrin River carp>  (photos courtesy of Phil Prech).


Dale caught this bruiser 
31.5" walleye in 72 foot of water east of Cleveland on a pink worm harness and 2 oz. inline weight 42' back off a planer board.  He reports he's been catching lots of other nice walleye and steelhead, too (photo courtesy of Dale Sante).


Will have been experiencing some great largemouth bass fishing at a local lake this summer (photos courtesy of Will Ellis).


Jim shows off a "golden bonefish" (common carp) caught on a fly rod in the Chagrin River.  Stop in and see Jim at Orvis Cleveland in Woodmere to talk strategy for sight fishing for carp with a fly rod (it's a greater challenge than you might think!) and to see some flies that have been hooking fish (photo courtesy of Jim Lampros).


About 60 good folks turned out for the <Rocky River Watershed Council> annual picnic to enjoy a fish sampling demonstration followed by hots dogs and ice cream.  Attendees observed a nice cross section of fish species that call the river home in summer at a site where the East and West branches of the river convene (photos courtesy of <Sean Swatsky Photography>).


A couple of young ladies inspect the non-native fish tank at the Area 49: Alien Invasion event at Cleveland Metroparks Canalway Center this past weekend (photo courtesy of Connie Hausman).


Although not caught in Cleveland Metroparks, regular blog contributor Adam wanted to share this photo of a fine muskie he caught on a spoon at another Ohio lake.  Nice catch, Adam! (photo courtesy of Adam Zakarowsky).


Nate, another fishing blog regular, went on vacation to North Carolina recently and caught the small shark and mackerel in the photos above (photos courtesy of Nate Madej).


And yet another fishing blog regular, Nick, lived out a River Monsters episode (we all watch that great show, right!?) on a recent trip to Captiva Island, Florida.  His catch, a lemon shark, was 6 feet long! (photo courtesy of Nick Gareau).


Anybody have an idea regarding the identity of this unique organism found at a local lake?  They look kind of like a live sponge, or brain coral, and are a firm jelly-like in texture.  They are most often encountered along the shoreline of lakes attached to sticks and the like that break free during storm induced wave activity.  Any takers? (photo courtesy of Nate Madej).

Answer:  This is an animal that lives in colonies called a bryozoan which, according to the fossil record, has been around for approximately 500 million years.  That means they must be doing something right!

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>


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