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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 - September 20, 2012

Posted: 9/20/2012
Posted By: Mike Durkalec

***Wednesday September 26 afternoon update: The river is elevated and muddy due to rain today, and will need at least a day or two of dry weather before it is fishable again.***

***Monday September 24 morning update: The river is stained but fishable this morning, and conditions will continue to improve over the next day or so.***

***Saturday September 22 morning update: Due to overnight rain the river is elevated and muddy this morning.***

The river level has dropped back to normal following the rain earlier this week, and fishing conditions for the weekend will depend on how much rain the area receives on Friday.  If it is minimal, fishing conditions will be favorable.  To monitor the most recent river water level and temperature you can check the following link: <river flow gage data> 

This past weekend, and the past two days as the water has cleared following the rain, anglers have reported a modest run of fresh steelhead in the Rocky River, including at least one fish over 30” (see photo below).  The steelhead and anglers have been most concentrated in the northern few miles of river (north of Lorain Road), although a handful of fish have found their way well upstream of that.  I personally observed a few steelhead all the way up by the Rocky River Nature Center again on Monday morning during a biology class field outing (see photo below).  I have not heard of any stray salmon caught in the river yet, but wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a few venturing into the Rocky in the near future. 

Mornings and evenings have been best for steelheading, with anglers catching most of the reported fish on spawn sacks, small jigs tipped with maggots, and spoons, although a few have also been hooked by fly fishers on egg and streamer patterns.  But at least one steelhead this week ate something totally unexpected.  Local angler Ken Stein reports upon cleaning a fish he caught and checking its stomach to see what it may have been feeding on, he found an unmistakable piece of blue bubble gum!  Anglers can expect steelhead fishing to remain hit or miss until we get later into fall, but I have to say so far the fishing has been above average for this time of year.

Smallmouth bass fishing in the river continues to be fair to good lately.  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. 

Largemouth bass and panfish opportunities in Cleveland Metroparks lakes and ponds have been good overall lately.  Natural Resources division staff have transferred bass and various sunfish species from non-fishing areas inside the park and private lakes outside the park to our public fishing waters in recent weeks.  Although we don’t name the lakes stocked with these fish in order to give them a chance to acclimate to their new environments, and hopefully spawn in spring and further enhancing these fisheries, odds are great that your favorite Metroparks lake or pond has been stocked with these fish at least once over the past year, if not several times.

Lake conditions dependant, Lake Erie boaters out of the Emerald Necklace marina have been making excellent catches of yellow perch this week fishing near the lake bottom with perch speaders and live or salted emerald shiners.  One hotspot is at about 38 foot of water north of the mouth of the Rocky River.  Details can be found in the ODNR Lake Erie fishing report available at the <ODNR Lake Erie fishing report>.

Steelhead Expo at the Rocky River Nature Center Saturday October 6th   A great way to kick off the steelhead season is to attend the 19th annual Steelhead Expo will be held at the Rocky River Nature Center on Saturday October 6th, 2012.  This event is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders and Cleveland Metroparks and will offer a full day of expert speakers and seminars, vendors, and other related information to kick off the fall steelhead season. There is no charge for the event but OCBS, a non-profit sportman’s group which is very active in the local fishing and conservation communities, is offering a raffle as a fundraiser so donations or participation in the raffle is encouraged.  More information on this offering can be found at the following link, as well as on the <OCBS website>   

Fishing Cleveland Metroparks in Eastern Fly Fishing magazine.   Noted fly fishing authority Jerry Darkes wrote a very nice 6 page article about fishing opportunities throughout Cleveland Metroparks in the Summer 2012 issue of Eastern Fly Fishing (Midwest Edition) magazine.  Although the focus was on the steelhead fisheries in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers, the article covers an overview of other fisheries of the park, as well, and offers a listing of helpful resources.  Thank you, Jerry, for the favorable coverage of our local fisheries program, and anglers should check it out if they get a chance.

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,



The Stein family had a great week of fishing on the Rocky River.  Six year old Elizabeth caught a 15 inch smallmouth bass on her Barbie fishing rod and reel and her proud father reports she laughed with excitement each of the three times the bass jumped clear of the water during the fight!  Ken followed up with the beautiful 33" hen steelie in the photo above.  Ken also reports that he hooked 5 steelhead on the river this morning by mixing up his offerings between eggs, spoons, and a Rapala crankbait (photos courtesy of Ken Stein).


Adam caught this fresh steelhead by the Nature Center this morning.  He was using a minnow pattern on his fly rod (photo courtesy of Adam Zakarowsky).


This fresh 29" steelie was one of a bunch Ken has caught this week, mostly in the morning before work (photo courtesy of Ken Harper).


Chris caught this skipper steelie near Puritas Road bridge on a black and white feather jig tipped with maggots (photo courtesy of Chris Darr).


Nathaniel caught a mix of smallmouth bass and steelies in his favorite hole in the river, which he reports he has been sharing with a beaver lately (photos courtesy of Nathaniel Watkins).


Nearly 40 Westlake High School biology students joined us on the river Monday morning to learn about the ecology of the river, focusing on fish and invertebrates.  Teacher John Cuomo and a student are holding up a few steelhead trout taken among the sample by the Nature Center ford.


Dan continued his all out assault on the steelhead population of the Rocky River this week.  He has been catching them on king salmon egg sacks in pink and blue mesh (photos courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).


Just shy of 300 colorful sunfish were transferred from a private golf course lake to a Cleveland Metroparks public fishing lake today.  Bill from Natural Resources and valued volunteer Steve Nyetrae show off a few of these fish above.


<Chagrin River Outfitters> is having a free informational "shop day" this Saturday September 22.   From 8:30am-4:00pm they will be offering seminars on steelhead fishing, fly tying, and will have gear giveaways (photo courtesy of Dan Pribanic at CRO).


Mark your calendars on Saturday October 6 for a full day of free information at the Steelhead Expo at the Rocky River Nature Center (details in the report).


Although not caught in Cleveland Metroparks, Robert caught his first muskie in an Ohio reservoir only about 90 seconds after the lure was put in the water trolling.  Great job Robert!  Scott reports that the lad is looking forward to steelhead fishing for the first time this year, as well (photo courtesy of Scott Heidrich).


I was at the North American Native Fish Association (NANFA) convention over the weekend, and this is the type of thing you are likely to see at such a gathering.  Sounds reasonable enough to me!

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>


8/27/2013 4:14:09 AM by Masumi
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