In early winter, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and walleye. The Rocky River and other area streams are largely filled with ice and slush following an arctic blast this week. When the streams are not frozen anglers can monitor the most recent river water level, temperature, and clarity (turbidity) at the following links: <Rocky River USGS flow gage data> <Chagrin River USGS flow gage data> <Rocky River NEORSD station with turbidity>.
(Note: ice can interfere with reliable flow gage readings). A combined 3,000 lbs of rainbow trout were stocked at Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge's, and Ranger lakes over the past two weeks and the very first ice fishers are cautiously venturing out to pursue them. When conditions permit walleye and steelhead are still being caught along the Cleveland lakefront shoreline.
Area streams are largely filled with ice and slush following a week of arctic temperatures. There is still a limited amount of open water, but it's disappearing rapidly. But ice tends to come and go with thaw in a typical winter, so the ice is likely not here to stay until spting. Bait often rules in winter, with dime size spawn sacks, live/salted minnows, and small jigs tipped with maggots/waxworm all being among the top producers. The Cuyahoga River in Brecksville Reservation typically stays more open than other local stream reaches during harsher winter periods.
Decent catches of steelhead are still being reported along the Lake Erie shoreline this week, especially at E55th breakwall, even though even the lajkefront is getting ice and slush. Popular methods for targeting Lake Erie shoreline steelies include suspending a jig tipped with minnow or nightcrawler 2-5 feet below a bobber, as well as casting a spoon (ie Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (ie Vibrax or RoosterTail). Slow down retrieves on your lures in colder coditions of winter. Night walleye anglers are also still making good catches at E55th from the shore casting crankbaits, with with larger Husky Jerks and Perfect 10 models being top producers. Make sure to bring a long handled net and cleats for icy shoreline areas.
A total of 3,000 lbs of rainbow trout were stocked in Metroparks lakes over the past two weeks. On Wednesday December 13th we stocked Wallace (1,400 lbs) and Ranger (100 lbs) lakes and on Tuesday December 19th we stocked Shadow (750 lbs), Ledge (600lbs), and Judge's (150 lbs) lakes. Some coho salmon, stocked back in October, are still being caught at Wallace Lake on the same baits being fished for trout, as well. The size of the trout averages from 1-2 pounds, with a few larger, and the fish are colorful as a result of our supplier including beta carotene in their diet. Along with the predominantly standard rainbow trout are a few brown trout and brook trout for variety. The second (and final) round of winter trout will go into the same lakes around late January/early February.
Trout are also available at Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E49th Street. Trout bite well on PowerBait, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and smallish jigging spoons (such as Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple). Please note the current seasonal trout regulations: Lake Erie and all streams 2/day minimum size 12" (this includes steelhead), 3/day no size limit at Wallace, Ledge, Judge's and Ranger lakes, and 5/day no size limit at Shadow Lake and Ohio & Erie Canal. A second (and final) round of winter trout will be released in about a month.
The very first ice fishers are cautiously beginning to venture on to smaller bodies of water, such as Wallace, Ledge, and Shadow lakes. Since it is early in the ice fishing season I'll offer some safety considerations. Sadly, an ice fisherman in northern Pennsylvania drowned this week when he ventured onto ice reported to be <3 inches thick. Most state conservation agencies recommend at least 4" of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish, and in Cleveland Metroparks it is the angler's responsibility to check that. One method is to use a spud bar near shore and check the ice thickness, and if it is >
4 inches then walk out a little further and check again. Ice is often thinnest right at the water's edge and around inlets and outlets of the waterbody. If the spud bar goes through in one hard strike it is a red flag that you need to get out of that area immediately. Other safety tips are to always fish with a friend, let someone know where you'll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing. If we do receive good ice this winter we hope to hold an ice fishing fundraiser derby, likely in mid February. Stay tuned for details on that.
Winteriffic Ice Fishing Offering.
Cleveland Metroparks annual Winteriffic event will be held on Sunday January 7th. We always schedule an ice fishing activity at Wallace Lake associated with the event, but typically need to cancel it roughly half of the time due to unsafe ice conditions. But this year ice is shaping up great and I'm optimistic. All gear, bait, and instruction is provided free. The two offerings are from 1:30-2:30pm and again from 3:00-4:00pm. Stay tuned to this report for confirmation of this activity and more info here: <Winteriffic Ice Fishing>.
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
I stopped by E55th today just in time to watch Jim land this fresh hen steelhead on a 4" minnow fluke on chartreuse jighead. He was the only one fishing there and didn't have a landing net so I helped him land it using a minnow umbrella net! It was a happy surprise- he was targeting walleye and this was only his 4th steelhead ever (he released it). The lake was starting to slush up at this location today.
Daniel shared from the Rocky "My nephew Danny and his son Joey are in town this week. Joey managed to land his first steelhead ever . We were 3 for 4 that morning." (photo courtesy of Daniel Zukie).
John had a great surprise while fishing the Chagrin River- a buck brown trout (photo courtesy of John Russell).
Andrew also caught a surprise brown trout, but this one was from the Rocky (photo courtesy of Brad Gardner).
Hunter shared "I would like to share my two steelies that I caught on Christmas Eve from East 55th marina on a blue and silver Little Cleo spoon" (photo courtesy of Hunter Cantwell).
Folks were cautiously ice fishing the north end of Wallace Lake today and catching trout on small jigs tipped with waxworms, PowerBait, and small jigging spoons. Please review the ice safety suggestions in the report- following them could save your life!
Dom shared "First time sender. Been fly fishing in the rocky for about a year and love it. Thanks for the weekly reports!" (photo courtesy of Dom Coduti).
Brad got out for an hour on the Rocky River and Christmas day and landed four steelhead, with his best present from the river being this 30 incher! He likes to fish a baitcasting rig for steelhead (photos courtesy of Brad Gardner).
Pat caught a skipper steelhead on the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville Reservation on a jig tipped with waxworm. The stretch of the river below the Rt 82 dam freezes more slowly below than other local streams during periods of cold weather (photos courtesy of Pat Campbell).
The Rocky River is iced up pretty good today, with photos above from the marina, Rockcliff Springs, Morley Ford, and Lagoon Dam, respectively. But stream conditions can change rapidly during a winter thaw and conditions like this rarely persist the entire winter.
Note: The fishing report is updated monthly in June, July, and August and weekly every other month
2019 Cleveland Metroparks Registered Fishing Guides
(name, company, contact)
- #19-001 Jim Lampros, floodplainsmag.com, email@example.com (216) 513-6011
- #19-002 Joseph Beno, On The Swing, Joseph93935@hotmail.com (440) 667-2278
- #19-003 Daniel Bennett, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, www.steelheadalleyoutfitters.com (888) 453-5899
- #19-004 Monte Casey, The Steelhead Guide, firstname.lastname@example.org www.steelheadguide.com
- #19-005 Jeffery Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service & Schools, email@example.com (440) 781-7536
- #19-006 Mario Chance, Chagrin River Outfitters, firstname.lastname@example.org (330) 984-3086
More information on Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Guide Permit requirements, including the permit application, you may check the following link: <Fishing Guide Permit Program>
Learn how you can support recreation opportunities through a donation to the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund.