***Saturday September 8 morning update: Due to overnight rain the river is elevated and muddy this morning and will remain stained through at least the weekend. The good news is that when the river drops and clears there should be a few fresh steelhead trout available for anglers.***
As we transition into early fall, highlight species targeted by anglers along the Rocky River watershed are smallmouth bass, panfish, and a chance at an early steelhead trout. Overall, the river has been low in level for much of the summer and has finally experienced a few bumps in flow over the past two weeks. The river is stained, but fishable, today and will continue to drop and clear into the weekend if we don't get much more rain. To monitor the most recent river water level and temperature you can check the following link: <river flow gage data>
A handful of steelhead have arrived earlier than usual this year, with the first one reported the first week of August. That one was found dead in the river and likely expired due to high water temperature since they are a coldwater fish doing best in waters below 75 deg F. On the afternoon of August 17, while electrofishing by the marina on the northern Rocky River, we turned up about a dozen and a half steelhead between the boat ramps and the “Black Wall” (darker wet spot on the valley wall just south of the ramps). See some photos of those fish below. Since then, a few anglers chomping at the bit have caught a few steelies in the river, especially in the mornings and evenings. The fish reported caught so far have been on spoons (Little Cleo spoons being a good choice) and spawn sacks. And just this morning we turned up a few steelies by the Nature Center ford while out with a Baldwin Wallace biology class (photo below). These early fish offer a bonus opportunity to catch a steelhead in August and early September, as the run really won’t begin to gain steam until later this month, and especially into fall. As an early reminder for those wishing to learn the ropes of steelhead angling, the annual free Steelhead Expo will be at the Rocky River Nature Center on Saturday October 6 from 9:00am-5:00pm.
Smallmouth bass fishing in the river has been 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.
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 in 47-53 FOW off the Cleveland shoreline. Details can be found in the ODNR Lake Erie fishing report available at the <ODNR Lake Erie fishing report>.
Generous Donation to Cleveland Metroparks Fisheries Program. Our staff are always looking for new ways to enhance our fisheries program, and such an opportunity arose on August 31. The Kriwinsky family allowed us to collect and remove a total of 382 fish from their private lake to be transferred to a Metroparks public fishing lake. These included 67 largemouth bass, 296 bluegill sunfish, and 19 crappie. Per the going rate of an Ohio fish producer, the fish were valued at $1,709.70. We are not specifically naming the lake they were released in, as is usually the case in such scenarios, to allow the fish to establish to their new home and hopefully spawn this spring to further enhance our fishery. As if that was not generous enough, the family also donated a check for $500 to our Fishing Fund! Thank you very much to the Kriwinsky family for their generous donation which will benefit our local angling community.
“The Great Steelhead Rescue”. Jeff Opperman, Senior Freshwater Scientist at The Nature Conservancy, happens to live on a tributary of the upper Chagrin River upstream of the former Gates Mills Dam (which broke apart during a flood two years ago) and he penned a neat account of an experience his family had with steelhead in that creek this past spring. Here is a link to the whole<story> which ran in Outside magazine and is definitely worth the time to read. Here is an excerpt:
"Native or not, these steelhead are ambassadors of wonder that can connect all of us to what persists: lakes and rivers that have been roughed up over the years but still remain the sources of incredible value to the people of the region. They remind us of our responsibilities, both for past losses and for the future. The anthropocene may mean we’ve left our mark nearly everywhere, but it doesn’t mean that nature has been banished. We still depend on it, whether for clean drinking water or for the adrenaline rush of magnificent, fighting fish that link us to a primal past and shake us to be present in the present."
Wallace Lake Re-opened to Fishing but not Boating. Wallace Lake was closed to fishing and boating through most of August while our staff treated a new non-native aquatic weed found in the lake (hyrdilla). On August 28 the lake re-opened to fishing, but boating is banned until a yet to be determined time. This will not affect our plans to stock the lake with trout this winter.
Kevin Feenstra at Chagrin River Outfitters this Saturday. Dan at <CRO> wanted to let folks know that there will be a free talk about fall steelhead and salmon techniques and fly tying from noted Michigan guide Kevin Feenstra at 10:00am on Saturday September 8th. Kevin is an expert on swinging big sculpin patterns and the like for crushing takes from aggressive steelhead. You typically won’t tally the kind of numbers possible dead drifting egg patterns, but it is among the most exciting way to hook these fish.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
A Baldwin Wallace biology class, led by instructor Tyler Lawson (holding the fish), came out to sample fish by the Rocky River Nature Center this morning and we even turned up a few steelhead trout.
On August 31, the Kriwinsky family dontated 382 valuable sportfish to Cleveland Metroparks and donated $500 to our Fishing Fund. See the highlight in the report for details.
Gio and his buddy James are off to an early start, having hooked a handful of steelhead in the northern Rocky River on spoons already (phots courtesy of Giovanni Quintana).
Bernie reports: "Had a great day yesterday in about four hours on my Kayak at Hinckley. Landed 6 of 8 including this one. Most were 11" to13". This one was close to 18" and at least a couple of pounds - wish I had a scale as it was my biggest bass ever caught! " (photos courtesy of Berni Lozar).
Chris observed the earliest steelhead I've heard of in the Rocky River the first week of August. He has also been chasing carp, catfish and anything else willing to bite on his centerpin rig this summer (photos courtesy of Chris Dietrich).
Pat and his neice Emma have been enjoying some great fishing for walleye, yellow perch, and sheepshead, as well as some pretty sunsets, on our big lake (photos courtesy of Pat Thauvette).
Not surprisingly, Dan McCutcheon also has a handful of Rocky River steelies under his wading belt already! (phto courtesy of Dan McCutcheon).
While sampling near the marina on August 17th, we collected the nice fish above, including some trophy size early steelhead trout and a flathead catfish, a new species for the river.
Jose is an equal opportunity fly fisher on the Rocky, happily catching green sunfish, rock bass, and smallmouth bass among his catch (photos courtesy of Jose Sanchez).
Brian has been catching largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as carp, in our Metroparks lakes and rivers lately (photos courtesy of Brian Kich).
Jeff and Joe prove that the upper Chagrin River of Cleveland Metroparks can produce some nice size resident smallmouth bass!
This was a particuarly sad sight on the river recently, as childrens' begginer fishing rig packaging indicated the next generation is being shown a very poor example. Fortunately, the vast majority of anglers I've met are model stewards of the resource.
A single mid-river boulder can be like a magnet for smallmouth bass and carp in the river, as indicated by this photo.
A basic display of the tools of the trade for steelhead angling, as well as free literature, are on exhibit at the Rocky River Nature Center in Septemember and October. Complementing some of my own personal equipment is a bunch of gear on loan from the Rodmakers Shop in Strongsville (thanks Frank!).
Recently retired Strongsville police Sgt. John Hall is enjoying all his newfound free time, and does not feel a bit guilty about sending me photos of his fishing exploits around the country as I sit at my desk at work! Here he shows off a nice catch of brook trout (photo courtesy of John Hall).
In addition to the many fishing opportunties, many folks greatly enjoy viewing abundant wildife in the river valley, such as these handsome bucks.
Note: The fishing report is updated monthly in June, July, and August and weekly every other month