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Fall 2004 Issue

Scorpion Stinger Spoons

Lake Erie Fishing Maps

The Official
Lake Erie Walleye
Fishing Hat


Ohio's Lake Erie Steelhead Fishing

Stream and pier anglers have an excellent opportunity to catch quality-sized steelhead trout from September through April.

The Division of Wildlife annually stocks five streams with 6-9" yearling Little Manistee River (Mich.) strain steelhead. These fish migrate out into Lake Erie and spend the summer in the cooler part of the lake, before returning to streams during the fall through the spring. Steelhead trout caught by anglers in the streams typically average 25" long and weigh 5 to 6 pounds. These fish have usually spent two summers out in the lake (see growth chart below). But there are a good number of fish that are over 30 inches and weigh more than 10 pounds.

Ohio's primary steelhead streams are Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers and Conneaut Creek. Several other rivers including the Huron, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula rivers, and French, Euclid, Arcola, and Cowles creeks get runs of stray steelhead. While the Ohio Division of Wildlife has noted a small amount of natural reproduction, it varies greatly from year-to-year. It is too low and erratic to support the quality fishery that has been developed and that anglers expect. Good quantities of cold, spring water and adequate juvenile trout habitat is also rare in NE Ohio's Lake Erie tributaries. The fantastic fishing has been maintained by annual stocking and by the practice of most anglers to catch and release.

For spring 2004, the Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers are scheduled to receive 90,000 fish. Conneaut Creek is scheduled to receive 75,000 fish from Ohio and 75,000 fish from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. The Vermilion River is scheduled to receive 55,000 steelhead. Total annual stocking numbers projected from Ohio hatcheries will remain at 400,000 for the foreseeable future. All Ohio fish are raised at the Division of Wildlife's Castalia Hatchery.

Where to catch 'em: May 18, 2004 :

Most rivers and streams are clear. Most fish have left for Lake Erie. There are a few active fish concentrated in the lower reaches. This will be the last stream report for this season. This year's steelhead stockings have been completed; please carefully release any smolts you may catch.

Rocky River:         Fish from the Emerald Necklace marina up to the fords.
Cuyahoga River:   Fish from the Rt. 82 dam up through the CVNRA.
Chagrin River:      Fish from the soccer fields to Daniels Park.
Grand River:         Fish from the Fairport pier up to St Rt 84.
Arcola Creek:       Fish in the estuary pond area and beach.
Ashtabula River:   Fish the harbor up through Indian Trails Park.
Conneaut Creek:  Fish the harbor up through Creek Rd.
Vermilion River:   Fish from the boat ramp up past the Rt. 2 bridge to Birmingham.
Click on a location above to open a map window.
Don't forget the daily bag limit of 2 steelhead trout and salmon in the aggregate valid from September 1st through May 15th !

There are many public access areas on Ohio streams. If you are on private property, you must have landowner permission. Don't trespass! Private landowners have the right to restrict access on their property. In Ohio, you can gain access to the stream from public access points, but the private land ownership includes their land under the stream. The streams listed above are navigable streams, meaning you can float a boat through them to fish; however, you cannot get out of your boat and stand on private property to fish unless you have the land owner's permission. For more info on access areas, see the steelhead section in our older Lake Erie Fishing Guide. Call 1-800-WILDLIFE for your copy!

Fish Consumption advisories have been issued for certain Lake Erie trout and salmon species and locations in Ohio. Find out more specifics and guidelines from our Lake Erie Fish Consumption Advisory Web Page

Real-time stream flow data is available at the following links for the Grand, Chagrin, and Vermilion.

Want to know how much rain or snow fell in the last 24 hours? Click this: Intellicast Web Site for the region.

How to catch 'em:

Michael Polansky- Chagrin River (click to enlarge)

Typical set-ups are long (7-10'), limber spinning or fly rods with light line (4-8 lb. test). Common lures in the fall, early winter, and again in the spring include small (1/16 to 1/80 oz.) marabou or synthetic hair jigs tipped with maggots rigged with split shot under a light pencil-thin bobber. Spoons (Little Cleo, KO Wobblers) and spinners (Rooster Tails, Vibrax, etc.) are commonly used on piers, beaches and lower stream reaches. Flyfishers (using 6-8 wt rods and weight-forward lines) prefer larger, weighted fly patterns, such as nymphs and streamers like woolly buggers, princes, egg-sucking leeches, stonefly and shiner patterns and clouser minnows. Egg fly patterns (single or cluster, sucker spawn, etc.) work well as a single fly or in tandem with a nymph or streamer once the fish move upstream. Salmon or trout eggs are fished as either individual eggs or grouped together in mesh "spawn bags" about the size of a dime or nickel. Eggs can be bounced along the bottom with the current or fished at or near the bottom suspended under a bobber. The fish will be oriented to cover or moderate to deep water pools, cuts or gravel runs as they make their way upstream for spawning. As stream temperatures warm during the spring, expect fish to be more likely to chase lures or bait and to be found in riffles and runs as they move back downstream and into Lake Erie for the summer.

Recent Stocking Numbers:


*Note: A portion of fish stocked in 2003 were smaller than target range.


Steelhead Growth Chart (below)

Years in Lake
Average Length
Average Weight (Pounds)

To contact us:

Fairport Harbor Fish Research Unit

Ohio DNR, Division of Wildlife
1190 High St.
Fairport Harbor, Ohio 44077

Phone: 440-352-4199
Fax: 440-352-4182
E-mail: [email protected]

Sandusky Fish Research Unit

Ohio DNR, Division of Wildlife
305 E. Shoreline Dr.
Sandusky, Ohio 44870

Phone: 419-625-8062
Fax: 419-625-6272
E-mail: [email protected]

Reprinted, Courtesy of Division of Wildlife information: 1-800-WILDLIFE


2004 ODNR, Division of Wildlife