In winter highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and walleye. Area rivers are exhibiting heavy slush and increasing ice at this time. Anglers can check the latest river flows and temperature at the following links (be aware ice on the flow gage sensors can cause erroneous readings): <Rocky River flow gage data> <Chagrin River flow gage data>. Our inland lakes are covered by a growing crust and although ice fishers are not out yet they are cautiously optimistic the ice fishing season will kick off soon. Lake Erie has been kicked up and muddy this week.
Steelhead fishing opportunities have been limited this week due to high water and heavy slush in the streams. Expect mornings to have the worst slush, which can burn off appreciably throughout the day when the temperature gets above freezing and the sun peeks out. Slush can be less of a problem just downstream of fords. On the plus side for those who like solitude, this cold weather is really thinning the herd. Anglers in winter hook up on a variety of offerings, although baits such as dime/nickel size spawn sacks, minnows (live or salted), and small marabou jigs tipped with maggots often work the best. As a tip, the Cuyahoga River is not stocked, but still gets appreciable numbers of stray steelhead and is slower to get icy than other area streams. The dam off Station Road in Brecksville Reservation (below the Route 82 bridge) is a popular and productive spot on the Cuyahoga, with Cleveland Metroparks owning the west bank (with the railroad tracks) and Cuyahoga Valley National Park owning the east bank.
Ice fishers are not out on the "hard water" yet, but with the cold snap they are cautiously optimistic it could happen soon. Our inland lakes are all currently covered by a crust of growing ice. Most state conservation agencies recommend a minimum of 4 inches of quality ice for foot traffic, and in Cleveland Metroparks it is the angler's responsibility to check ice thickness and safety. In the meantime, anglers can fish these areas from the safety of shore where the water drops off quickly, such as off docks, fishing platforms, and the sandstone ledges at Wallace Lake. The following lakes received trout in mid-December: Wallace Lake (900 lbs), Shadow Lake (450 lbs), Ledge Lake (450 lbs), Ranger Lake (100 lbs), and Judge's Lake (100 lbs). Daily trout limit is 3/day in these waters, with the exception of Shadow Lake which is 5/day. The rainbow trout averages between 3/4 pound and 2 pounds, with a handful of bonus golden rainbows and brown trout also released in Wallace. Winter trout bite on Power Bait (rainbow and other bright colors have been best) about the size of a marble near the lake bottom with a small sinker, small jigs tipped with bait (maggots, waxworm, minnow, corn) suspended under a float, as well as small to medium size jigging spoons (like Swedish Pimple or Forage Minnow). The second (and final) winter trout stocking will not be around early February.
Annual Re-Run: ?��Newer Steelheader Frustration Syndrome?��. (Note: given the New Year and a few frustrated anglers who've contacted me lately it seemed like a good time to re-run this piece) Following each fishing report that mentions that recent fishing has been good for many anglers, I am inevitably contacted by an angler or two who are newer to steelhead fishing (a few years or less experience) who voice frustration that they have not been catching few or no fish. In many cases, they are looking for advice on a secret spot, which really doesn?�+t exist on the popular Rocky River these days. Although the reasons why vary case by case, I would like to let folks who feel this way know that this is very normal situation for less experienced steelheaders to find themselves in. In most cases, the regulars you see in the fishing report, or on the river, catching fish consistently have been at it a while?��in some cases 10, 15, even 20+ years. Even if you are doing everything right based on advice, some things just won?�+t begin to gel really well without that added ingredient of experience.
I, personally, started steelhead fishing the Rocky River in the mid-1980?�+s. In the first few years, just hooking a steelhead was a rare occurrence that would get my heart pounding with excitement, because it only happened a few times a season and because I usually didn?�+t land the fish I did hook. After a few years, though, things started to change. I began to get a feel for where fish should be laying when checking out a new river segment, or would just sense when my drift was right without even being able to put a finger on exactly why. Sometimes I would find myself hooked up to a fish while on autopilot without even remembering why I set the hook in the first place! At this point, which just about any steelheader will reach given enough time on the water, you will find that catching fish on a trip switches to being the norm rather than the exception. This is a culmination of many smaller things coming together, like gaining confidence, being adaptable, and having honed the skill of making a perfect drift. And after a number of years on the water you will find that you are the one who is catching fish, yet you aren?�+t always sure what you are doing so different from the less experienced steelhead angler next to you who is not hooking up and is as frustrated as you were in his/her shoes.
Of course, the learning curve can be shortened by spending time taking full advantage of all the steelhead fishing resources out there online, in the local tackle shop, and elsewhere. But don?�+t underestimate the value of meeting experienced anglers on the river and picking their brain if they are willing. And, of course, there is no alternative equal to spending time on the water. As with much of the rest of life, things worth mastering tend to take time, which make the rewards that much better in the end. This is not always the answer folks are looking for, but it is the truth. So stick with it and it will pay off, eventually.
Reminder From the Ranger Department: Do Not Park in the Parkway Berm. As you have likely noticed, the parkway was repaved this year at substantial expense and effort. The soft shoulder material takes awhile to cure, and folks (especially anglers) parking in the berm of the parkway have been damaging it and causing extra work for our already busy maintenance crews. For the next year, we ask that you limit your parking to the official lots/improved areas. Rangers are out keeping an eye on this, as well. Thank you.
2015 Fishing Guide Permits. Please note that Fishing Guide Permits expired on December 31, 2014. Renewal materials were recently sent to all of our previously 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
Happy New Year!
Ron sent 2014 off with a bang! He caught and released this 30" class brute buck steelhead through the slush on the Rocky River in late afternoon on New Years Eve (photo courtesy of Ron Marcinko).
Sean caught this exceptionally dark buck steelhead in the upper Rock on a spawn sack this week (photo courtesy of Sean Fenton).
Miles landed a nice steelie in the Rock on New Year Day (photo courtesy of Miles Boozer).
The lake was angry yesterday! This photo is from Edgewater Park (photo Ranger Lt. Rich Svboda).
The cold hasn't kept John from continuing his Rocky River steelie hooking spree! (photo courtesy of John Fay).
Julio was another angler who hooked a New Year Eve steelie in the river (photo courtesy of Julio Dejesus).
Zach filmed a YouTube video of catching a steelie in the Rock on January 3rd which can be viewed <here> (video courtesy of Zach Kaczmarski).
Rick, Scott (both visiting from Columbus) and I landed some Rocky River steelies in the rain on Saturday afternoon. The fish being held by the gill plate by Rick was harvested (the rest were released). It is not recommended to hold a fish that way if intended for release (photos courtesy of Scott Heidrich).
The rivers have lots of slush and ice at this time.
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, email@example.com, (440) 667-2278
17-004 Jeffery Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service & Schools, firstname.lastname@example.org (440) 781-7536
17-005 Monte Casey, The Steelhead Guide, http://steelheadguide.com
17-006 Nathan Miller, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, http://steelheadalleyoutfitters.com
17-007 Patrick Robinson, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, http://steelheadalleyoutfitters.com
17-008 Justin Shillaci, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, http://steelheadalleyoutfitters.com
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>