***Wednesday January 24 afternoon update: This morning rainbow trout were stocked at Wallace (1,400 lbs) and Ranger (100 lbs) lakes. This bunch was the highest quality batch of trout I've stocked in my nearly 13 years of working at the park! The rainbow trout varied from 3/4 lb all the way up to pushing 10 lbs, with dozens of trophy specimens. There were also lots of brook anf brown trout up to 2 lbs, and even some smaller golden rainbow trout. The ice is especially thin around the edges but there were a few anglers still on the ice. I would recommend fishing through the ice from the safety of shore or platforms, though..***
***Monday January 22 afternoon update: This morning rainbow trout were stocked at Shadow (750 lbs), Ledge (600 lbs) and Judge's (150 lbs) lakes. The ice is degrading rapidly but anglers can fish through the ice from the safety of fishing platforms and from land in areas where there is deeper water near shore.***
In winter, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include stocked trout, steelhead trout, panfish, and yellow perch. The Rocky River and other area streams are largely covered in ice following the recent cold snap. 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 in mid to late December with another batch of 3,000 lbs scheduled tentatively for next week. The Lake Erie Cleveland area harbors are currently offering excellent ice fishing opportunities for steelhead and yellow perch.
Cleveland area harbors on Lake Erie, such as E55th, Gordon Park, and Edgewater marinas, as well as Wildwood Marina to the east, all offer excellent ice fishing opportunities primarily for steelhead and yellow perch. Anglers have a shot at bluegill, northern pike, and a diversity of other species, too. A big muskie was even caught through the ice in a Cleveland harbor this week (see photos and highlight below). Steelhead are biting on medium size jigging spoons worked with a fairly aggressive jigging action throughout the water column. I personally have been doing well on smaller Kastmasters with silver in the finish. Swedish Pimple, Forage Minnow, and similar also work well. You can use them plain, or tip with a small minnow or a few grubs. Gulp Minnows in 2" also work on a jig. For perch use a small jigs tipped with several waxworms near the bottom in about 10-15 feet of water with a more subtle jigging action. Be especially careful to test ice thickness with a spud bar if you venture into any new areas because ice thickness can be highly variable where there is any current
Ice fishers are out pursuing rainbow trout on our lakes and ponds, as well. On Wednesday December 13th we stocked rainbow trout in 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. The size of the trout averages from 1-2 pounds, with a few larger. The second (and final) round of winter trout will go into the same lakes tentatively next week. Keep posted to the fishing report for updates on that. Trout are also available at Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E49th Street.
Trout have been biting 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.
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 carry a set of ice spikes on a cord around your neck, fish with a friend, let someone know where you'll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing. If we continue to get good ice this winter I plan to coordinate an ice fishing fundraiser derby, likely in February. Stay tuned for details on that.
Area streams are ice covered following a sustained cold snap. Don't expect much of a chance in this regard until we experience a significant thaw.
Hakeem Najeeullah was ice fishing the Cleveland shoreline of Lake Erie for the first time yesterday afternoon- and caught a huge surprise (literally!). He was jigging a small spoon hoping to catch a yellow perch or steelhead when what he thought was a group of several fish showed up 24 feet beneath them on the bottom on their fish finder display. Hakeem soon thereafter had a bite and set the hook on something very heavy. After an extended battle on 4 pound line they pulled a 42" Great Lakes strain muskie through the small hole in the ice- a rare catch in the Cleveland area of the lake (photos of the fish and the jigging spoon he caught it on are offered below). It turned out the electronics were not showing a group of fish, but rather a single large fish! I measured the length at 42" x 19" girth and the weight computes to just under 20 pounds. They only hooked one other fish that day and, amazingly, it was also a muskie. It was smaller than the first, and they saw it clearly before it broke the line at the hole. Although I'd encourage folks to release a fish like this to spawn, Hakeem was rightly proud of his amazing catch and chose to keep it to have it mounted. He says he's gone north to Canada specifically to catch a trophy muskie, but never caught one this big before.
Great Lakes strain muskies used to be all over Lake Erie in pre-European settlement times. Maumee Bay even once boasted a historic beach seine (net) commercial fishery for them. But overfishing, habitat descruction (they require shallow nearshore areas to spawn, which have been greatly reduced in unbanized areas of the shoreline), and water pollution all contributed to their rapid decline. There are robust musky populations (and subsequent fisheries) on either end of Lake Erie, though, namely in the Detroit River to the west and Buffalo Harbor and Niagara River to the east. Muskies have notoriously high fidelity to spawning areas and are long lived so once eliminated from an area they can take a long time to recolonize. But they slowly are making a comeback in Lake Erie and I receive a handful of reports of Cleveland area muskies from the lakefront each season. The largest I've seen until this fish was a 41" specimen caught and released from the rocks at Edgewater Park a few years back. Water quality and habitat improvements are no doubt the likely reasons for this comeback. In fact, only a few hundred yards from where this fish was caught, Cleveland Metroparks made the decision a few years back, after taking over site management at E55th Marina, to allow aquatic weeds to recolonize the far east end of the marina bay (the rest of the marina is treated for weeds to facilitate boating) very specifically to offer some unique spawning habitat for fish like musky that spawn in such locations. Several smaller musky have been caught in that general area in recent years.
Recent research using radio transmitters revealed that muskies from Lake St Clair and the Detroit River area will seasonally travel all the way to Buffalo Harbor and back on apparent feeding migrations. Given the abundance of gizzard shad, perch, and other forage species where this fish was caught (and another hooked that same day) I feel there is a good liklihood that these could be transient fish that stopped by the area to capitalize on a good feeding opportunity. Whatever the case, it was a really neat occurrence to document. I encourage folks to relay reports and photos any Cleveland area muskie catches to me (or any other rare catches for that matter).
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 email@example.com
Note: The fishing report is updated monthly in June, July, and August and weekly every other month
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.