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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 - July 2012

Posted: 7/1/2012
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Monday July 30 morning update: Wallace Lake is temporarily closed to fishing and boating for natural resources management activities.  A full explanation will be included in the updated fishing report later this week.  The lake will be closed to fishing for at least a month, and to boating for an as of yet undetermined length of time.***

As we move into mid-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 since mid-spring.  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.  Wallace Lake, 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 also be found in Wallace and Hinckley lakes and the Ohio and 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, in terms of numbers and sizes, fishing perch speaders and live or salted emerald shiners in 40 FOW off the Cleveland shoreline.  Carl Bachtel from Inside the Great outdoors filmed this short <video>featuring the hot perch fishing right off the Cleveland shoreline.  Anglers working the riprap and bulkheads along the city shoreline have been making good catches of rock bass and various other intermixed species, as well.  Walleye trolling has been good in around 60’ of water north of the city.

Mid-summer yellow perch and walleye fishing is often productive off Cleveland out of the Emerald Necklace Marina.  Details are available at the <ODNR Lake Erie fishing report>.     

Fishery Highlight:  Hinckley Lake.   As the photos that follow this report illustrate, Hinckley Lake is a consistent producer of quality size largemouth bass every summer.  The rip-rap structure and brushy shorelines within a few hundred yards of the dam produce some of the best bass fishing.  Larger bass like to prowl the near-shore drop-offs here looking to ambush gizzard shad baitfish.  Bass from 2-5 pounds are not uncommon in the lake, with a few even larger ones present, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to catch!  Anglers who fish summer mornings or evenings from a small watercraft tend to do the best casting shad crankbaits, rubber worms, and spinnerbaits along shoreline drops with structure and/or some weeds.  For those who don’t own a watercraft, there are rental options at the boathouse (330-278-2160).  Most anglers choose to release their bass to grow even larger and be caught again.  The lake also offers bluegill, crappie, rainbow trout (in spring), bullhead catfish, common carp, channel catfish, and white suckers.  More information regarding the Hinckley Lake fishery can be found at the following link:  <Hinckley Lake Management Plan>

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,



Summer is a great time to take the family fishing and enjoy the outdoors.  One such family that makes the most of summer are the Boozers (Cathy, Miles Sr., Miles Jr., Angela, Jada, and Alicia).  As the photos above depict, they have been catching all kinds of fish in the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville Reservation (photos courtesy of Cathy Boozer).


Congratulations to Ben Roberts, who caught his first fish ever during a summer camp at Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation this summer!  The tackle busting carp was caught on a simple cane pole, indicating young Ben has some natural angling talent.


John Cooney is a passionate St. Ignatius high school biology teacher who, along with a few colleagues, is interested in working with Cleveland Metroparks to raise trout and catfish in their science classroom to enhance teaching lessons ranging from embryology and microbiology to aquatic biology and watershed science.  Here is a photo of John and his first fish, a crappie caught on a cane pole taken back in 1954 by what was formerly Eddie's Boat Dock on the Rocky River.  A lot has changed in fishing technology since the 1950's, but these last two photos indicate that it's hard to improve upon kids and cane poles (photo courtesy of John Cooney).


Chris and his nephew Shane (in photos) have been experiencing some fine catch & release fishing for bass, crappie, and sunfish on Hinckley Lake.  In the top photo is the biggest largemouth bass Chris has caught in Hinckley Lake in 37 years of fishing there!  The bruiser took a Rapala crankbait (photos courtesy of Chris Jenkins).


Scott and Brandon have also been catching (and releasing) some big largemouth bass in Hinckley Lake, and Gabby landed a fine bass in another nearby lake.  Their fish have been munching centipede rubber worms.  The trophy bass Scott is holding in the top photo was 4.5 pounds (photos courtesy of Scott Bendler).


If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite to give Hinckley Lake a try, Daniel (from the featured story last month) caught and released this 30" channel catfish in the lake, too.  The big cat took a worm fished under a bobber by the dam (photo courtesy of Daniel McDivitt).


Father and son Nate and Malachi continue to get personally acquainted with the fish living in the Rocky River and other local fishing holes.  The giant channel catfish Nate is holding in the one photo measured 33" long!  (photos courtesy of Nate Adams).


Don caught these feisty Rocky River smallmouth bass on pearl colored swimbaits (photos courtesy of Don).


Pete caught this hog 31" walleye off Cleveland in 35 foot of water.  He was due north of East 9th Street (photo courtesy of Pete).


Brian caught and released many nice largemouth bass in Wallace Lake and "various other Cleveland Metroparks lakes" this past spring, including the 20" class trophy fish in the top photo (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).


Jim at the Orvis Cleveland fly fishing shop at Woodmere has been catching some nice smallmouth bass and carp in the Chagrin River on the flyrod.  All of us that know Jim were very relieved to get word that he won his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma recently (photos courtesy of Jim Lampros at Orvis Cleveland).


This nice channel catfish was taken in the Cuyahoga River (photo courtesy of Chris).


Mike (top) and "Wild Bill" (below) have been wreaking havoc upon the local largemouth bass population this summer (photos courtesy of Mike Kovalski).


Bob caugh this "mirror carp", the name commonly given to a common carp with the unique genetic variation of fewer and larger scales as noted in the future (photo courtesy of Bob Wells).


Doug has been chasing around the largemouth bass in Wallace and other area lakes in his kayak lately.  He reports that in the month of June he caught and released 117 bass, with 31 of those coming in only four hours of great fishing (photos courtesy of Doug Mouat).


Everett gives a Rocky River smallie a smooch before its release.  Although he didn't specify, the fish appears to have been taken in early spring based on the lack of foliage in the photo.  Nice bass Everett! (photo courtesy of Everett Sheets).


Shane caught his first sheepshead, a bruiser, along the Lake Erie shoreline recently (photo courtesy of Shane DiRuggiero).


Nate is quite the angler!  He caught the lunker largemouth bass, channel catfish, and northern pike in an undisclosed location.  For those interested in pursuing these species, the upper Cuyahoga River is a prime destination for anglers seeking pike and catfish (photos courtesy of Nate Madej).


Corey caught this huge largemouth bass in a local farm pond (photo courtesy of Corey Butram).


What does a really late steelhead do in the Chagrin River on a 90+ degree day?   Find a colder tributary inflow to hang out around, of course!  Here is a link to a video of this steelie I observed during stream sampling on June 21:  <Chagrin Steelhead>.


And speaking of steelhead trout, our stream surveys this summer are revealing unprecedented numbers of juvenile rainbow trout.  One 400' sample segment yielded 447 little trout!  Our trout supplier agrees with my hypothesis that the lack of rain in April meant less silt in our streams, and because trout eggs and young are very susceptible to silt in the water, this allowed more of them to develop and hatch successfully.  In reality, most of these fish will not survive the higher temperatures of late summer, but a few likely will, and may go to Lake Erie, grow big, and come back to offer a chance at a wild Ohio steelhead, which is an exciting prospect to many anglers.

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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