***Monday March 30 afternoon update: Today we stocked a total of 700 pounds of rainbow trout in the East Branch Rocky River between Royalton Road (Rt. 82) and the covered bridge (600 pounds) and Wallace Lake (100 pounds).***
***Saturday March 28 afternoon update: The Rocky River has dropped in level very rapidly, and is offering stained but fishable conditions at this time. Tomorrow should be even better.***
***Friday March 27 morning update: The Barbie Rod Steelhead Derby has been postponed until Saturday April 4th due to poor river conditions. All other details regarding time, place, etc carry over to the new date.***
In spring highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and panfish. The steelhead fishing this past week has been good in the Rocky River and other area streams, overall, and fishing for stocked trout in the East Branch Rocky River has been excellent. The overnight rain raised and muddied the water of area rivers, though, putting that on hold. Weekend conditions will be contingent on how quickly the water level drops. Anglers can check the latest river flows and temperature at the following links (Note: the Rocky flow gage is giving unreliable readings again and USGS has been notified of the issue): <Rocky River flow gage data> <Chagrin River flow gage data>. Anglers are catching trout in open water and through thin ice from shore at Wallace Lake, as well as other area lakes and ponds stocked this past winter.
The Rocky River water level came up overnight and into this morning and is currently elevated and muddy. Depending on when the river level begins to recede the Rocky could be fishable into this weekend. Check in on this report over the next few days for interim river conditions updates. Lots of anglers reported catching steelhead over the past week, with most of the fish being in the 16-25" range (see highlight below for an explanation of fish size this spring), and a handful of lucky anglers even caught bonus brown trout (as evidenced in the photos below). Anglers reported hooking steelhead on a variety of offerings, including dime size spawn sacks, small marabou jigs tipped with a few maggots, live minnows, spinners (Vibrax and RoosterTail are good), and egg and streamer fly patterns. There are lots of emerald shiners in the northern river right now, which is a relief to see after a winter where they were so sparse along the Cleveland lakefront . A good number of lake-run white suckers have also begun their spawning migration, with immediately below Morley Ford being a good place to find them concentrated. A worm or small jig/flies fished near the river bottom will often catch plenty of suckers.
Thin ice on our inland lakes is lingering, but anglers are fishing the limited open water around Wallace Lake, as well as fishing through thin ice from the safety of shore. Wallace Lake was stocked with 600 pounds of rainbow trout two weeks ago. Shadow, Ledge, and Judge's lakes all still have trout remaining, as well, and expect these trout to begin biting very well as ice cover disappears from the lakes in the near future. Daily trout limit is 3/day in these waters, with the exception of Shadow Lake which is 5/day. Trout often bite on small jigs tipped with bait (maggots, waxworm, minnow, corn) suspended under a float, spawn sacks, small to medium size jigging spoons (like Swedish Pimple or Forage Minnow), and Power Bait (rainbow and other bright colors have been best) about the size of a marble near the lake bottom with a small sinker.
The East Branch Rocky River was stocked with 600 pounds of rainbow trout between Royalton Road (Rt. 82) and the ford crossing just south of Wallace Lake. NOTE: the limit on any trout in the river, whether stocked catchable size or steelhead, is only two per day/angler and our Rangers are out enforcing this! Trout were biting great on PowerBait, small jigs tipped with maggots, and small spinners. If the river level recedes enough by Monday I plan to stock the river again (with 700 pounds this time). Keep posted to the report for updates.
Although ice on Lake Erie continues to break up, ice remains in marinas at E55th, Edgewater, and Wildwood parks. As the ice melts in the coming few weeks steelhead, crappie, largemouth bass, and northern pike will all be prowling the marinas and nearshore waters along the Cleveland shoreline.
An Explanation of Why There Are So Many Smaller Steelhead this Year. From the desk of Phil Hillman, Ohio Division of Wildlife Fisheries Supervisor, District 3: "Anglers should be expecting plenty of steelhead in two length groups this spring: 16-18?�� fish as well as 24-26?�� fish. The reasoning for this is that the last two years of steelhead trout stocking from Castalia State Fish Hatchery went exceptionally well, with expected numbers (400,000+ between all five stocked streams) of yearling steelhead (smolts) stocked and better than normal lengths (7?��+) produced. These previously stocked fish are now 16-26" in length. Castalia raised the fish from eggs up to yearlings, so we should expect to see the higher average lengths and great production continue. Additionally, in 2011, we only stocked slightly more than half of what we normally do because of a problem with Michigan fish numbers that we were able to receive. Thus, we currently are ?��light?�+ on steelhead from 28?�� + in the streams. Another consideration is that over the past couple of years sea lamprey numbers have dropped substantially (although the adult numbers in Lake Erie are estimated at 16,000+, which is still 5 times higher than what we would expect). More 28?�� fish are expected from fall 2015 onward as the fish from the post 2011 stockings continue to grow."
2nd Barbie Rod Fundraiser Steelhead Derby Coming this Saturday March 28! ***IF RIVER CONDITIONS COOPERATE*** Local angler Mark Warren has arranged the 2nd annual Barbie Rod Steelhead Derby as a Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund fundraiser for this Saturday from 8:00am-4:00pm on the Rocky River. The fun event, which is open to all, requires that competitors fish with a kid themed fishing rod for an added challenge (such as a Barbie or Spiderman themed rod, as examples). There will be trophies for the three largest steelhead, as well as over $1,700 in prizes/raffle items and a cookout. Plan to be at the Emerald Necklace Marina (1500 Scenic Park Dr., Lakewood, 44107) by 8:00am to get started. For more information contact Mark at email@example.com or (440) 665-1815. There is also an event info page on Facebook which can be found <here>.
*BARBIE ROD DERBY CONTINGENCY PLAN* If the river looks like it will be unfishable by Saturday, the event will be postponed until Saturday April 4 (one week away, details otherwise the same). The event organizer will monitor conditions and make a determination by tomorrow. An update will be posted in this fishing report, as well as the event Facebook page, sometime tomorrow. We can?�+t control Mother Nature, eh?!
Free Steelhead Basics Offering on Thursday April 9. For anyone interested in learning the basics of catching steelhead in the streams, ODNR Fisheries Supervisor Phil Hillman and I will be teaming efforts to offer a free <Steelhead Basics> seminar on the evening of Thursday April 9 from 7-9:00pm at the Rocky River Nature Center located at 24000 Valley Parkway, North Olmsted 44070. Come join us!
Judge's Lake and Beyer's Pond Management Plan. For anyone interested, the recently completed Judges Lake and Beyer's Pond Management Plans, along with lots of other Natural Resources Division technical documents, can be found <here>.
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 .
Who doesn't love to see photos of happy kids fishing?! The Darr family had a wonderful outing on the Rocky River this past weekend. Proud father Chris reports that his 11 year old son and 7 year old daughter each caught their first steelhead on jigs tipped with maggots. He says that his 9 year old will be next to catch one (photos courtesy of Chris Darr).
Many smaller steelhead are being caught this year (see report highlight for explanation), but Cory caught a 31", 11 pound class bruiser in the northern Rocky this past weekend on a minnow pattern jig (photo courtesy of Cory Kyovsky).
Mike, from Germany, has visited the US to fish the Rocky River the past several years. He caught some nice steelies, such as the one above, on his latest trip here this week (photo courtesy of Dave Rankin).
The Yates are another family who enjoy fishing together. Father Brad notes "I wanted to send you some pictures from Wallace Lake on Sunday 3/22. We got out on the south end but there was skim ice so I had to bust up an area to fish. The little guy, Logan, wanted some trout for his grandmother. We had fun on a pink marabou 32nd oz jighead tipped with maggots. I was out Sat for about a hour and it was open water on the south end near the falls. I caught 7, all released, in about a hour on the same set up. I met a polite Ranger checking licenses on Saturday and I was glad to see them out checking. Thanks for the great fishing you have year after year." (photos courtesy of Brad Yates).
Joyce caught her first Rocky River steelie of the spring season on Saturday (photo courtesy of Joyce Smith).
Buddies Brian and Alex caught a bunch of suckers, one steelie, and a bonus brown trout this past Saturday on the Rock (photos courtesy of Brian Pavick and Alex Garrote).
"Polish Mike" caught this hefty Wallace Lake rainbow trout recently (photo courtesy of Pete Surace Sr.).
Doug sent the following note "Another one has caught the fever! My brother-in-law Chris has been fishing with me this year. We hooked six steelhead in the Rock on Saturday morning, but this pic of Chris with his first river steelie is priceless!" (photo courtesy of Doug Czarnecki).
Nathaniel shares "I made my first ever trip to the Rocky River on Saturday 3/21/15 and I landed this 21.5" steelhead trout from my kayak trolling a Bluefox Vibrax spinner! (top photo). Friends Joe Turner Sykes III and Ben Collins also caught their first steelhead. Joe also caught a 20" brown trout! We're all members of CLE Kayak Anglers." Check out their website at <CLE Kayak Anglers> (photos courtesy of Nathaniel Maloney).
John relayed "Here's a picture of a fresh steelhead I caught Wednesday afternoon the 18th on the Rocky River. I was fishing with orange yarn just above the marina. You do a great job with the fishing report. Thanks for keeping us informed." It is my pleasure, John! (photo courtesy of John Clark).
Buddies Jeff and John hooked up with a steelhead double-header on Saturday using John's homemade jigs (photo courtesy of John Fay).
Chris caught this 18", 2.5 pound, beauty in Wallace Lake this week (photo courtesy of Chris Carter).
Randy was yet another angler who caught a Rocky River brown trout this week, as well as several steelhead (photo courtesy of Jon Freni).
"RTA Jim" caught this trophy 22" rainbow trout at Bonnie Park on the East Branch Rocky River on Monday (photo courtesy of Mark Fascione).
Tom and a buddy fished the lower Rocky by Lake Erie on Saturday and was rewarded with some steelies. The brown trout is the same one held by Joe in an earlier photo. The photo of the flotsam pile segregating the ice filled Lake water and open river water is striking! (photos courtesy of Tom Nock).
Mike was yet another lucky recipient of a Rocky brown trout this week (photo courtesy of Tony Loshiavo).
Snickers the papillon inspects a steelie caught at Lagoon area on the East Branch by her "dad" on Monday (photo courtesy of Robert Burke).
Bob has been catching a few trout every time he fishes Wallace Lake. These fish hit "spring green" color PowerBait (photo courtesy of Bob Hodoba).
Yesterday a strong wind gust destroyed our pop tent, but it was all worthwhile to teach eager BW University students about stream biology. Heck, that old tent had put in many years of service already anyhow!
Brian sends the following excellent advice/reminder: "If people use their line that has been sitting on the spool all winter and go to make their first cast in the spring this (pictured) will probably happen resulting in them getting frustrated and leaving the line behind. It is called memory and if they put new line on before they go out this is LESS likely to happen along with not filling the spool up to the very end. Also, this more than likely came off a spinning reel. Line over 12lb test does not get along with a spinning reel well. It is too stiff and gets memory easier. This I picked up and threw out." Thank you Brian! (photo courtesy of Brian Kich).
The gulls haven't minded the carp winter kill at Lake Isaac! This week we also had reports of dead catfish at Beyer's Pond and carp/smaller sunfish in a wetland at an Ohio & Erie Canal area wetland. Please report any fish kills you observe to me. (photo courtesy of Jeff Deluca).
Note: The fishing report is updated monthly in June, July, and August and weekly every other month
2018 Cleveland Metroparks Registered Fishing Guides (name, company, contact)
#18-001 Monte Casey, The Steelhead Guide, email@example.com www.steelheadguide.com
#18-002 Jeffery Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service & Schools, firstname.lastname@example.org (440) 781-7536
#18-003 Josh Trammell, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#18-004 Joseph Beno, On The Swing, Joseph93935@hotmail.com (440) 667-2278
#18-005 Daniel Bennett, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#18-006 Brad Dunkle, Wildwood Anglers LLC, email@example.com (419) 540-8585
#18-007 Nathan Miller, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#18-008 Justin Pribanic, Chagrin River Outfitters, firstname.lastname@example.org (724) 799-5011
#18-009 Patrick Robinson, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
#18-010 Travis Larson, Hatch Run Fly Fishing, email@example.com (814) 706-1958
#18-011 Mario Chance, Chagrin River Outfitters, firstname.lastname@example.org (330) 984-3086
#18-012 Don Mathews, Steelhead School, www.steelheadschool.com (330) 565-5457
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>