***Tuesday April 22 afternoon update: A total of 500 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked in the East Branch Rocky River this afternoon.***
***Sunday April 20 morning update: Happy Easter (or whatever you might celebrate today)! The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are in nice shape for steelhead anglers, with more fish having been reported further upstream the past few days. The East Branch of the Rocky up to Berea Falls has produced good catches lately.***
Highlight species targeted by anglers around Cleveland Metroparks in early spring include steelhead, stocked rainbow trout, largemouth bass, panfish and suckers. The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are dropping in level and it is looking like anglers could finally be treated to great fishing conditions for the weekend. Anglers can check the most recent river water level and temperature at the following links: <Rocky River flow gage data> <Chagrin River flow gage data>
Steelhead anglers may finally be getting a much needed lucky break, with the rivers dropping nicely and no more precipitation called for as we move towards the weekend. During the short windows of opportunity offered over the past week, anglers have experienced some of the best steelhead fishing of the season (photos below as evidence). A lot of fish have wasted no time moving right into shallow spawning riffles, especially further upstream on the Main Branch and all around the East Branch of the Rocky River. The Chagrin River has steelhead present all the way up to South Chagrin Reservation at this time. Although just about any traditional steelhead bait or lure can take fish this time of year, this is an especially favored time for many fly fishers who drift a variety of nymph, egg and streamer patterns. If you prefer not to fish the often crowded areas around visibly spawning fish you can find a deeper hole downstream, where fresh and recently spawned ("spent") steelhead can often be found actively munching on the eggs drifting downstream.
The white sucker run is still on in the Rocky River, with many of these fish also spawning in the shallows at this time. Spawning white suckers have a dark lateral stripe along the sides. Some quillback carpsuckers are mixed in, too. A leadhead jig with twister tail, nymph flies or worm and small sinker fished near the river bottom will all take their share of suckers. Suckers are perfect for kids and less experienced anglers, although experienced anglers can find the fast action they afford to be lots of fun, as well.
The first lake-run smallmouth bass have been reported in the river this week. These scrappy fighters average 1-4 pounds and can most often be taken on dark brown, olive or white jigs about 3" in length. Often they are hooked by steelhead anglers drifting jigs in deeper pools and offer a nice surprise catch. The run of these bass will continue until early June most years. The entire Main Branch of the river produces these bigger smallmouth, although the best fishing tends to be north of the Lorain Road bridge.
Due to an elevated river again this week, we stocked 600 pounds of rainbow trout in Wallace Lake yesterday. Add these fish to those stocked the past few weeks at Wallace Lake (950 pounds) and by ODNR Division of Wildlife at Hinckley Lake (2,500 trout) and Shadow Lake (500 trout) and fishing prospects this weekend are excellent in our lakes. In late March 1,200 pounds of rainbow trout were also stocked in the East Branch Rocky River between Royalton Road (Rt. 82) and the ford crossing just south of Wallace Lake. These trout will be well distributed at this point. The DNR stocked trout are pan-size (11-12"), while the Metroparks stocked fish are running a few inches larger, on average. Trout have been biting on PowerBait fished near the lake bottom, as well as small spinners, spoons and streamer flies. Some left over trout from earlier stockings are still being caught at Ohio & Erie canal, Ledge, Judge's, Shadow and Ranger lakes, as well. Check back in on the fishing report weekly throughout spring for the latest stocking updates. The largemouth bass and panfish bite is also heating up at Wallace and other area lakes this week.
The Lake Erie shoreline and harbors offer anglers largemouth bass, crappie, other panfish and northern pike prowling nearshore areas for baitfish. Looking for shallower water with structure, especially emerging weedbeds, is a good strategy. White and silver spinnerbaits and crankbaits retrieved slowly produce bass and pike, while a small jig tipped with waxworm or lively minnow suspended a few feet under a float is a good bet for crappie and other panfish. A small watercraft will increase an angler's opportunities in this area.
Wallace Lake Boating Ban Lifted. Hand powered watercraft are again allowed in Wallace Lake. The two year ban was due to getting Hydrilla, an aggressive non-native plant new to northern Ohio, under control first to avoid further spread by boaters.
It has been a tough year for steelhead anglers. Any steelhead anglers who thought we were paying our dues during this harsh winter and would be rewarded this spring were mostly wrong! The river has been flooded and muddy more often than not since ice-out. I've even had to cancel five different fish collection outings planned on the Rocky River with local universities over the past month due to high water. Up to this point it is likely that many of the big lake-run trout have come in, spawned and headed back to the lake before anglers have even had a shot at them. Although the season has been punctuated with a few bright spots, most experienced steelhead anglers are in agreement that this was one of the most challenging steelhead seasons they can remember. But the projected weather leading into this weekend is looking good (so far) to break this unfortunate trend. I also anticipate that some steelhead will be around well into May this year and also that the abundance of skippers are an indicator of good steelhead numbers to be returning next season.
Edgewater Public Boat Ramps Closed For A Few More Weeks. As the state initiated project to repair hurricane related damages at Edgewater Marina continues, it is projected that the public boat ramps there will re-open between mid to late May. An unusually harsh winter set the timeline back a bit. We apologize for any inconvenience to boaters and in the meantime Gordon Park to the east and Rocky River to the west offer other free public launch facilities.
If you have a photo or information that you would like to contribute to the fishing report, or if you have any further questions regarding fishing in Cleveland Metroparks, you may contact Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec at (440) 331-8017 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben caught and released this 19.5" largemouth bass at Beyer's Pond this week on a Bomber floating crayfish (photo courtesy of Ben Apathy).
Angie and Robert caught some fine steelhead in the Rocky earlier this week, highlighted by Angie's 11.5 pound bruiser (photos courtesy of Steve Nyetrae).
Lilly inspects a bluegill caught while fishing with her father at Wallace Lake on Wednesday. They also caught and released a trout. Lilly seemed equally enamoured with fishing as stomping in the mud in her rubber boots...which is what being a kid should be about!
Charlie and his brother Eddie caught some nice steelies fly fishing a creek on stonefly nymph patterns (photos courtesy of Charlie Seibolt).
Jessica's smile tells us just how she feels about catching this steelhead! (photo courtesy of Adam Zakarowsky).
Corey had a great day fishing with dad before the rain this week, catching several steelhead and a few suckers for good measure (photos courtesy of Craig Delewski).
PJ caught some nice largemouth bass at E55th Marina at Lakefront Reservation this week on crankbaits (photos courtesy of PJ Fillipowicz, therockyriver.com).
Marty Kilbane caught this 28" steelhead in stained water on Sunday on a blue zonker fly pattern. He was fishing with two friends, one of which was Metroparks registered fishing guide Monte Casey. Monte reports they caught 6 fish over 28 inches and LOTS of them smaller than that. They were fishing upstream of the Nature Center (photo courtesy of Monte Casey).
Carl, "Polish Mike" (top two photos) and other anglers did well on trout at Wallace Lake the past few weeks, especially following the Wednesday morning stockings (photos courtesy of Pete Surace).
Don reports from Wallace Lake on Sunday "Found a bunch of bass schooled up and caught 8 in one spot, 10 total for the day. Also caught a 12 inch rainbow trout while bass fishing, LOL. Info for the anglers, all caught off the bottom as slow as possible with Booyah jig with Chigger craw and Creature Bait craw imitation Texas rigged with 1/8 ounce weight. Had fun and all released." (photos and report courtesy of Don Burrie).
Drew had his best day at Wallace Lake this week, catching seven trout, of which he kept one to eat. He also enjoyed viewing the wildlife there (photos courtesy of Drew).
I worked on Saturday morning and ran into this young fly fisher battling a nice steelie at Lagoon Dam on the East Branch Rocky River. The fish was hooked on a bright orange 3" trout worm with a few split shot in the muddy flow.
Tony was searching for steelhead casting a white 1/16th oz spinner in the Cedar Point Road area when he hooked this white sucker, which he noted fought surprisingly well (photo courtesy of Tony).
Lance, his son, friend Joyce and a few other buddies had a great day of steelhead fishing the East Branch Rocky River on Monday (photos courtesy of Lance Masarik).
This installment of "Know Your Fish" is expert level. This minnow species was collected in Baldwin Creek (a Rocky River tributary in Berea) while sampling with a CWRU biology class on Saturday. This one is a true challenge! Please take your best guesses in the comments below, and if nobody gets it correct within a few days I'll leave a hint in the comments section (photo courtesy of Owen Lockhart, Cleveland Metroparks).
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, email@example.com (330) 984-3086
#17-002 Justin Pribanic, Chagrin River Outfitters, firstname.lastname@example.org (724) 799-5011
#17-003 Joseph Beno, On The Swing, Joseph93935@hotmail.com (440) 667-2278
#17-004 Jeffery Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service & Schools, email@example.com (440) 781-7536
#17-005 Monte Casey, The Steelhead Guide, www.steelheadguide.com
#17-006 Nathan Miller, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#17-007 Patrick Robinson, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#17-008 Justin Shillaci, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#17-009 Daniel Bennett, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
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>