***Wednesday December 13 afternoon update: This morning rainbow trout were stocked at Wallace (1,400 lbs) and Ranger (100 lbs) lakes. The ice is very thin but anglers can fish through the ice from the safety of land in areas where there is deeper water near shore. Shadow, Ledge, and Judge's lakes will be stocked next week.***
***Friday December 8 afternoon update: The Rocky River was slushy this morning and some ice has remained throughout the day. Expect morning conditions, in particular, to be similar on the river following nights significantly below freezing.***
In winter highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead, walleye, and stocked rainbow trout and landlocked coho salmon (the latter stocked in Wallace Lake). Good numbers of steelhead were reported caught throughout area streams this week. The Rocky River and other area streams got a small bump in flow yesterday but are moderately low in level and clear at this time, and based on the forecast that trend is looking to continue into the weekend. The steelhead and walleye night bite along the Cleveland shoreline has remained good this week. To monitor the most recent river water level and temperature you can check the following link: <Rocky River flow gage data> <Chagrin River flow gage data> <Rocky River NEORSD station with turbidity>
The Rocky River and other area streams are moderately low in level and clear at the moment and will likely continue to clear further into the weekend based on the forecast. Steelhead are well distributed throughout the entire mainstem of the Rocky River as well as both branches, and are up into North Chagrin Reservation on the Chagrin River. Steelhead are also present in good numbers in the Cuyahoga River up to the Brecksville/Route 82 dam, as well as throughout smaller area streams like Euclid Creek. The big trout are averaging 5-7 lbs this year, with very modest numbers of fish reported of Fish Ohio size (28"+). In the clearing water steelhead have been biting on smaller spawn sacks (dime size or smaller), single salmon eggs or beads that mimic them, small marabou jigs tipped with a few maggots or a waxworm drifted under a float, live minnows, flies (egg patterns and baitfish streamers), and lures such as Little Cleo spoons and Vibrax spinners as the water clears further. The fall run is in high gear at this time and prospects will remain good into winter.
The steelhead bite has remained good along the Cleveland lakefront as lake wave conditions allow- especially at Edgewater Park and E55th east facing breakwall. Steelhead can also be found off the breakwall at E72nd, the pier at Wendy Park at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, off the breakwall at Wildwood Park, and off the jetties at Huntington Beach. Casting a spoon (ie Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (ie Vibrax or RoosterTail) at these locations are as good a bet as any for connecting with a lakefront steelhead trout, as is suspending a small jig tipped with minnow or maggots under a bobber. Make sure to bring a long handed landing net when fishing the lakefront for steelhead! On a sidenote, the new pending Ohio state record lake trout was caught in Lake Erie this week (see photo below).
Complementing the great steelhead fishing along the Cleveland shoreline, excellent numbers of walleye have been found along nearshore Lake Erie. A monster 14.97 pound walleye (pic below) caught off Cleveland won the top prize in the Fall Brawl tournament this week. Shore based walleye anglers are doing best casting stickbaits (ie- Husky Jerks and Perfect 10s) and glow in the dark spoons at dusk and after dark. On Tuesday night locals reported around 100 big walleye landed from shore at the E55th breakwall. The ODNR Division of Wildlife weekly Lake Erie fishing report can be viewed <here>.
The Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area off E49th Street (down the walking trail from Canalway Center) was stocked with 1,000 lbs of rainbow trout and 600 lbs of farm raised channel catfish on Friday October 13th. The daily limit here is 5 trout per angler. Trout bite well on PowerBait, small jigs tipped with maggots, and small spinners. Wallace Lake, Ledge Lake, Shadow Lake, and Beyer's Pond are a few other spots worth exploring in fall into early winter. Wallace Lake was stocked wityh 209 huge bluegill and decent largemouth bass last Tuesday, Oxbow Lagoon in Rocky River Reservation was stocked with 986 largemouth bass and bluegill recently, and Wallace Lake was stocked with the majority of another 449 largemouth bass and bluegill since October 23. These fish were transferred from private golf course lakes. Additionally Wallace recieved 300 catchable size coho salmon and a few rainbow trout back in October. Rainbow trout will be stocked in Metroparks lakes around mid-December- stay tuned to the fishing report for details on that.
From the Desks of the Park Managers.
Kurt Shoaff, our Park Manager at Lakefront Reservation, wanted to inform folks that his staff pulled the docks at Edgewater and Gordon Park boat ramps for winter this week. Both locations still have a permanent concrete walls in place that can suffice as a boat launching aid. Rocky River Park Manager Dick Ditch reports that he plans to pull the remaining Rocky River boat ramp dock on December 11. There is no concrete dock available at this location. He also plans to have his staff install the popular burn barrel at Morley Ford with the next week or so.
Roly Poly Fish Heads.
If you or an angler you know catches and harvests a lake trout from Lake Erie or a connected tributary please retain the head. John Deller, Fish Biologist at ODNR Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Unit (and old grad school chum of mine) made this request because many stocked fish have coded wire tags implanted in the head that contains very useful data for Lake Erie fish managers.
Additionally, Michigan DNR fish biologist friend Heather Hettinger reached out to me and requested that anyone who harvests a stray Atlantic salmon in Lake Erie, as occurred last week, also retain the head (as they also have coded wire tags implanted). In either scenario please just freeze the head and you can get in touch with me to arrange acquisition of the specimen.
Donations of Aquarium Equipment needed for Grafton Correctional Institution Collaboration.
We are seeking donations of aquarium gravel, aquarium decor, and larger capacity pumps and filters for the Grafton Correctional Institution inmate-run Aquatics Program. We are good on aquariums at this time. Please contact me to coordinate a donation.
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
Tim relayed the following great story: "Took my 6 year old down to the Rocky just before dusk and met up with a buddy who happened to show up. Pointed out a bald eagle flying above us & my buddy said, 'must be a good sign' About 30 seconds later I hooked a fish & handed the rod to my son. While I helped him land his first steelie I heard him say 'that bald eagle sure was a good sign!' Hope he doesn't expect a fish every time he sees a bald eagle!"
(photo courtesy of Tim Fischer).
Chris reports this week "My son, Brian, and I have been striking out on steelhead this season, but some Cuyahoga River smallmouth were a nice consolation prize. We were surprised they were biting in December. This was the biggest of the three he caught one evening."
Mike's note: December smallmouth are a far rarer feat to hook than a steelhead- great job! (photo courtesy of Chris Rossman).
Adam shared regarding a special day: "Hey Mike, thanks for keeping the fishing report going. I love seeing how everyone is doing. My girlfriend caught her first steelhead over the weekend and it was a bruiser. It was on her last cast of the morning and she and I were both thrilled. The fish swam off beautifully after being put back in the water unharmed. That alone was enough to make it a pretty special morning, but we were delighted to see not one, but two snowy owls hanging around the Edgewater Yacht Club making it all a truly memorable experience. Cheers!"
(photos courtesy of Adam Richard).
Dale shares regarding a great outing: "Although a little west of the Cleveland area, here is a photo of a big steelhead I caught off the outer breakwall at the Sheffield Lake boat launch this past Saturday. Caught about 2:45 PM casting a red/white spoon. Measured in at 29.5 inches and 11 3/4 pounds. Also caught a small brown trout that was released. Thanks for maintaining the fishing reports. Good to see all the fishermen having success!"
(photos cortesy of Dale Knautz).
Greg relayed "I finally caught a couple cohos at Wallace Lake on Saturday, 12/2/17, around 11am. Beautiful fish, and I released them back. Can’t wait for the restock of rainbows."
Mike's note: I hope to stock those trout Wednesday and Thursday next week. Keep posted to the fishing report for details on that (photos courtesy of Greg Palka).
Sabrina caught a gorgeous steelhead off Edgewater Park on Sunday (photo courtesy of JK).
Jason shares "I was out steelhead fishing and caught a couple of nice ones but the third fish I caught was unique to me and was more green in color and his spots on his back were more spaced out. I was just curious if you were able to help me with identifying what it was. Here are a couple pictures. Thank you for your time."
Mike's note: Jason caught s stray coho salmon. Usually a very rare catch in Lake Erie there seem to be more than usual straying into our streams this year (photos courtesy of Jason Chrosniak).
Amy caught a nice walleye with a backdrop of the illuminated nightime city (photo courtesy of Amy Marie Lindic).
Among his catches Dale landed a trophy Chagrin River steelhead this week (photos courtesy of Dale).
An angler caught this nice steelhead at E55th east facing breakwall yesterday afternoon. The steelhead fishing here has been good lately, but the night walleye bite has been even better. Anglers reported that on Tuesday night around 100 big walleye were caught by anglers casting Husky Jerk and Perfect 10 crankbaits from shore in this same spot.
Matt is a "double threat" to the fish along the lakefront- steelhead by day and walleye by night! (photos courtesy of Matt Arroyo).
Stephen reports "Decided not to fight the crowds fishing walleye tonight. Went out in search of a small bluegill for my aquarium. All I caught was one of the coho salmon recently stocked in Wallace Lake. If I tried to catch a coho, all I'd catch would be small bluegill!! In other news, the huge bluegill transplanted to Wallace were biting well for the guy next to me - he got like six that were easily 8"+ in about 30 minutes."
(photo courtesy of Stephen White).
Ed reports of his recent success "Either my Thill floats are made of lead or the bite has really picked up this week around the golf courses. Today I landed 5 on 5 bites in under 2 hours, and last week went 2 for 6 on Thanksgiving. All fish in between 20 - 29 inches on the bradsjigs with maggots, colors shown in the attached photo, which are the best steelhead jigs on the market. Not many bites on the gold Little Cleos that were hitting earlier in Oct/Nov. Check 'em out"
(photo courtesy of Ed Schmitt).
Brian caught this chrome bruiser at Edgewater Park. His son Mike has been catches steelhead there this week, as well, on a very slowly retrieved spoon (photo courtesy of Brian Reed).
Walleye and steelhead have both been biting great around the E55th/E72nd area (photos courtesy of Jeff Shaw).
It was a BIG week for BIG fish! Congratulations to Matt Branigan on easily winning the $75k Warrior boat top prize in the Fall Brawl with a 14.97 pound walleye! Congratulations also goes out to Jim Beres on landing what looks to handidly be our new Ohio state record lake trout. The beast pulled the scales down to 26.63 pounds- eclipsing the former record fish by a whopping 6 pounds! (photos courtesy of Craig Lewis at Erie Outfitters).
I love nostalgic local fishing stuff! Joe shares "First coho salmon November 1982 Rockcliff Springs before I moved to West Virginia. But I still return to fish the Rock".
Please feel free to share your past photos and accompanying stories, as well (photo courtesy of Joe Goodman).
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>