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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 - December 27, 2012

Posted: 12/27/2012
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Wednesday January 2 morning update: The river very slushy this morning following a night that dipped well below freezing.***

The Rocky River is currently exhibiting excellent winter steelhead trout fishing conditions, maintaining a stable flow and green stain.   Weekend fishing conditions should remain very good, although some slush may be present in the mornings, in particular, given the low temperatures they are forecasting in the coming days.  Anglers can check the latest flow and temperature trends at the following link: <Rocky River flow gage data>  

The river has maintained a very good flow and stain this week and there are plenty of steelhead present throughout the system.  The winter weather has served to significantly lighten the number of folks on the water, as well.  The river has not been slushy yet, but could have slush in the mornings following any night that gets down into the mid twenties or below.  But the good news is the slush normally burns off pretty quickly in the Rock after the sun comes up.  The Chagrin River has also been fishing well.  This is the time of year that many serious steelhead anglers have been waiting for all season.

The steelhead fishing on the Rocky has been very good this week.  Lots of steelhead of all sizes, from smaller 14-18” skippers up to bruisers exceeding 30” and 10 pounds, were reported by anglers.  As the water was just beginning to clear, nickel to quarter size spawn sack in brightly colored mesh (hot pink and chartreuse are always good bets) were working well.  Now that the river has more clarity other traditional offerings are accounting for their share of fish, as well.  Small 1/32 or 1/64 ounce hair and marabou jigs tipped with a few maggots or a waxworm, live minnows, rubber Trout Worms and 2-3” tube jigs (white has been a good color), sucker spawn flies, beads the size and color of a salmon egg (the size of a smaller fingernail), and even wobbling plugs have all been producers for folks this week.  Now that the river flow has stabilized and temperatures are dropping, more fish are becoming concentrated in slow, deep pools.

A layer of ice has formed on our smaller lakes and ponds, but it is not thick enough for ice fishing yet.  State DNRs typically advise that anglers should not venture on solid ice any thinner than 4 inches thick.  Unfortunately, heavy snow (as we received last night) serves to insulate a lake to a degree and slows ice formation versus very cold, clear weather when solid ice formation is most rapid. Please be aware that in Cleveland Metroparks, it is the angler’s responsibility to check ice thickness as they proceed slowly from the shoreline.  In the meantime, anglers can pursue trout and sunfish by breaking a hole in the ice adjacent to a fishing platform or shoreline drop-off while fishing from the safety of solid ground.  Small jigs tipped with maggots suspended below a small ice bobber, live minnows, PowerBait, and jigging spoons (such as Swedish Pimple or Forage Minnow) all work well for winter trout.

Be aware that trout limits vary by location.  In the rivers this time of year it is two per angler per/day with a 12” minimum size.  In our lakes and ponds that ODNR also seasonally stocks (Shadow and Hinckley lakes and Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area) it is 5 per angler/day with no size limit.  In all other stocked Metroparks waters (Wallace, Ledge, Ranger, and Judge’s lakes) it is three per angler/day with no size limit.

Positive feedback regarding our lake and pond stocking program.   As followers of the fishing blog are aware, in recent months Cleveland Metroparks has collected  thousands of largemouth bass and sunfish from private lakes through special arrangement and released them into our public fishing waters.  A number of anglers sending in photos or otherwise reporting very good catches of these fish in our lakes and ponds in recent weeks is testament that the program has been quite successful.  Just take a look at some of the images following this report as evidence.  A few lucky anglers have caught trophy fish, such as the 21” bass displayed by an angler in the photo following the report and another fisherman who caught a 10.5” bluegill that exceeded a pound in weight in Wallace Lake and is having his trophy mounted.   And I have more great news for anglers.  I just worked out an arrangement yesterday to sample a fish filled 20 acre private lake in spring 2013 which will allow us to transfer lots more quality fish to our public fishing areas in the New Year!

I also want to take a moment to strongly encourage anglers to release the larger bass they catch, in particular, so they can spawn this coming spring and further enhance the population, as well as be enjoyed by other anglers.  A trophy sportfish is too valuable to go around just once.  Mounting a trophy of a lifetime is one thing, but if you like to harvest bass to eat I would suggest keeping the far more abundant smaller bass (around 12”) and releasing the larger trophy fish.  It surprises most folks when I inform them that live bass, if purchased, go for about $12.50/lb.  This means a 5 pound bass is valued in excess of $60, which is an expensive fish to make into a single meal. 

2013 Fishing Guide Permits.   Please note that current Fishing Guide Permits expire on December 31, 2012.  Renewal materials were recently sent to our ten registered guides, but other folks interested in guiding on Cleveland Metroparks waters this year may find a link to the application materials following the photos in this report.  Thank you and may all your clients have fish filled trips in the New Year!

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

Happy Holidays,




Congratulations to Luke on catching his first steelhead in the Rocky River this week.  He shares "My dad and I were fishing at the marina with little success (the guys next to us were catching them like crazy) when a guide approached us, gave us some advice as well as new bait, and two casts later I had my first ever steelhead. It's no 12 lb monster, but it is a lot better than being ridiculed by my brother for catching nothing. Its always nice for us inexperienced anglers to get some help from the experts."   Thank you to the anonymous guide who made Luke's day! (photo and report courtesy of Luke Robinson).

Yuriy caught this trophy 21" largemouth bass in Wallace Lake last week on a live minnow.  He relays that he caught lots of other bass, bluegill, and crappie, as well (photo courtesy of Yuriy Chen).


Joe caught this bruiser buck steelie in the Rocky River on Christmas morning along with some other nice fish.  He reports the fishing pressure was very light in the areas he fished, having them mostly to himself.  Joe has a knack for being around when large fish are caught, as he was also on the boat when his buddy landed the current state record steelhead in Lake Erie in summer 2011 (photo courtesy of Joe Boewe).

Lavell caught these beauties out of the Rock this week while fishing with his father Lanell (photos courtesy of Lanell Mckinney).

Allen caught and released this very healthy largemouth bass in Wallace Lake recently.  He caught the fish on a worm (photo courtesy of Allen VanHouten).

Matt received a gift wrapped in silver from the Rocky River on Christmas morning (photo courtesy of Chuck).

Frank Ragone strikes again with this nice winter largemouth bass caught on a worm in Wallace Lake (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).

Michael found success on the river on both days on either side of Christmas.  The fish in the second photo stretched 29"  (photos courtesy of Michael Berardinis).

John landed this 6 pound buck on the northern Rocky on a home tied jig tipped wtih a waxworm.  His buddy Jeff (not pictured) landed one, as well (photo by Jeff Sutliff).

Nathaniel caught a brace of Rocky River chromers on Christmas day using rubber Trout Worms (photos courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).

Brian had another great week fishing Cleveland Metroparks lakes, catching (and releasing) a mix of trout, bass, and sunfish (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).

Aarron has a great week on the Rock, landing several fish, including one trophy steelie that taped 33" and 14 pounds on his digital scale (last photo).  His buddy Travis (middle photo) also landed some holiday steelies.  They caught their fish on pink and white tube jigs drifted under floats (photos courtesy of Aarron Hulswitt).

Jesse caught this gleaming chrome hen when the river was still high and muddy last last week (photo courtesy of Jesse).

When the main rivers were still elevated and muddy, Yuriy had good steelhead fishing on a smaller stream that flows partially through Cleveland Metroparks (photos courtesy of Yuriy Chen).

The Rock was generous to Dan again this week (photos courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).

Mark and Dan have been catching a bunch of steelhead on the Rocky River and smaller area tributaries this week.  The photo above depicts a wild (naturally spawned in the stream) juvenile steelhead they caught, as well (photos courtesy of Mark Barrett).

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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