Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Rocky River Ohio
Rocky River is the name of both a city or suburb of
Cleveland, Ohio, and a river that flows into Lake Erie. It
is part of what's locally referred to as steelhead alley.
From October through April, it receives some very nice
runs of Lake Erie steelhead making it a popular
destination of the Cleveland anglers as well as visiting
anglers from other locations. Like its neighboring sister
river, the Chagrin River, it has plenty of water that's
ideal for steelhead.
Most of the bottom consist of gravel and coble but
there's some clay substrate. In some areas, sandstone
and shale exit. The fly fishing methods and strategies
used for steelhead fishing on the Rocky River are the
same as those used on most other Lake Erie steelhead
streams. As with any of the Lake Erie tributary streams,
just keep in mind that the distance upstream the
steelhead migrate, mostly has to do with stream levels
as well as the weather conditions. Different water levels
vary the exact location of the majority of the steelhead
and you must keep track of the current location. Local
anglers are a big help in this respect. It isn't complicated
to determine where to fish. You will see where the action
is by the number of anglers present at any location.
Most likely, it means steelhead are being caught there.
You don't want to waste a lot of time casting in water
void of steelhead.
The Cleveland Metroparks provide the best public
access on the Rocky River and its tributaries. There are
plenty of places for the steelhead to hold.
The mostly shale-bottom river water levels can rise and
fall fast after heavy upstream rains. It is very important
to keep a close eye on the flows of the river. It is best
when has reached its high point and begins to fall. Some
color to the water makes it even better. Low, clear flows
are much more difficult to fish. Look for flows averaging
about 300 cfs. The USGS stream data on your left will
give you the stream levels.
The steelhead season is from October to May.
Steelhead can be caught as late as the end of April
depending on the weather.
During the Summer, the water is too low and warm for
salmon or steelhead.
Steelhead begin entering the Rocky River as early as
middle of September. The fishing is good throughout
All but the coldest days of Winter can be good for
steelhead. The extremely cold water of January and
February can make the fish sluggish but otherwise,
fishing remains good throughout the Winter.
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
For Steelhead and Salmon
7, 8 , 9 or 10 weight for appropriate type
rod, sinking, sinking tip and floating
10#, 12# in 9 to 15 feet lengths
10# and 12#
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly 7, 8, 9 and 10 ft. single hand
For 7 to 10 weight lines
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
KISS Strike Indicators, Lanyards, etc.
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
11/08/13 Anglers repoting that some steelhead being caught. River a little stained but clearing.
Leaves in water. One customer caught two using our Perfect Fly Green Sedge Larva.
11/22/13 Same customer as above catching more steelhead using our Steelhead Green
Sedge Larva, hook size 12. Called to order more flies. Also using Cinnamon Sedge Larva fly.
12/05/13 Rocky River is running low and clear. Not many steelhead being caught by fly
anglers but some are. The fish are well scattered throughout the river. Small nymphs like our
Green Sedge larva steelhead fly working best.
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Fishing Report Updated 01/16/17
12/29/13 The river has dropped back down and cleared up and steelhead are being
caught. One of our customers reports catching two on our Black Giant Stonefly nymph.
02/04/14 Cold weather and ice is still a big problem. No reports of any fish caught but
Customers buying getting ready for a warm up.
03/23/14 The river has been high and muddy but clearing. More showers likely tonight but
then clearing. The river is dropping and should get into better condition but more cold
weather is expected.
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04/17/14 The river has been high for a while now but is dropping and anglers have begin
to catch fish. It should get even better. Swinging flies is working well.
06/25/14 Some trout being caught in the East Branch, other than that, you could try for
12/05/14 The lower river has been high but back in good shape and anglers should be
catching some more steelhead. We will resume these reports more often now that our local
contact is back.
12/17/14 The river is flowing high and dingy right now. Wait for it to fall.
01/21/15 Fish have been caught as long as the water is too cold or frozen, however, that has
been the case most of the time for the last month.
02/09/15 Same report - the water is too cold. It should begin to warm up in a few days,
according to the long range forecast.
03/05/15 The river is high but falling. Some stain in the water. It should be good in the
Current Rocky River Fishing Reports:
11/09/15 So far the "catching" has been slow due to the low water levels. Anglers fishing
the deepest runs and pools have caught a few but the action has been slow. The best
producing fly for our customers has been the Veiled Beadhead Crystal egg flies.along with
a few nymphs such as the Giant Black Stonefly nymhs and Green sedge steelhead fly.
There is rain in the forecast and conditions should improve soon.
Rocky River Fishing Report - Archive:
01/01/16 The river has finally dropped down into good shape and is at normal levels for
this time of the season. We recommend nymphs versus swinging due to the lower water
temperature of 38 degrees.
02/21/16 The water is only 36 degrees and few fish are being caught. The levels are fine
but with lots of slush ice.
03/12/16 The levels was high recently but customers are catching some steelhead just
the last two days on Spey flies swinging and nymphs, especially the Green sedge.
03/28/16 The river is below its normal level for this time of the year. Steelhead are in the
river in good numbers and being caught in good numbers. We do NOT recommend eggs at
this time. Small steelhead nymphs and streamers are working much better with the lower
clearer water. Small nymphs like our Green Sedge , Cinnamon Sedge larva are working.
04/09/16 The river continues to be high and muddy and frankly, not worth fishing. Watch
the stream levels and as soon as they drop back down to the 500-600 range, go.
05/02/16 The river is high and stained but falling. Rain tomorrow through Thursday and
again on the weekend, so expect high levels. Swinging is pricking up a few fish when the
levels are decent.
06/20/16 We received some good reports on trout this past week. The stream is in good
shape and some hatches are taking place. Smallmouth bass are also being caught.
07/18/16 Smallmouth bass fishing is good at this time. Use the Perfect fly Crayfish bass
patterns. The lead dumbell eye crayfish is working best .Get ready for the steelehead. It
isn't that far off.
08/01/16 Smallmouth bass are taking popping bugs early and late in the day, otherwise,
fish our Perfect Fly Crayfish patterns for the best results.
08/15/16 Smallmouth bass are still being caught. They hold in the deeper pools. Recent
rainfall has brought the river levels up but that's good for the overall condition.
08/29/16 Stream levels are fine but the water is still very warm and smallmouth bass the
only game, but it is very good. Our crayfish streamer patterns are working best, especially
those with lead dumbbell eyes. Baby popping Frogs are also working early mornings.
09/12/16 The recent rain and higher water may have brought some of the first fish in the
river in a while. It is still warm but should be getting better all week with lower air temps.
Check out the Perfect Fly steelhead patterns:
10/03/16 The stream levels are up some, at 137 cfs and 1.58 ft. The water is still warm, in
the mid to high sixties. This should be changing soon and more fish entering the river.
10/17/16 The river is low and the water temperature too warm. Conditions would be great
with some rain and cooler weather and that will be coming very soon. Don't wait until it is
crowded and after the fact to fish. Next week or the next one should be an excellent time.
10/31/16 The stream levels are up but in good shape with more steelhead coming in.
Swinging, nymphing and egg flies are working good. Now, is a good time to be on the water.
11/14/16 The river has been up and anglers doing good but the level is back near normal.
Good numbers of steelhead have been being caught on our nymphs and egg flies.
11/21/16 The stream levels are back up a little above normal level and the water much
colder. Nymphs and egg flies are catching a few steelhead.
11/28/16 The levels were up again but back down below normal. The water continues to
be cold. We didn't receive any reports of any steelhead caught but there could have
been. More fish should have entered the river and more rain in on the way.
12/05/16 The recent rain helped bring more fish into the river but the level is back down
again. Steelhead nymphs under indicators will work best. Fish near the lower end.
12/12/16 Higher water levels this past week has brought more steelhead into the river.
Some are being caught by anglers putting up with the snow. The water is cold, averaging
about 35 degrees. Fish Steelhead nymphs like our Cinnamon and Green sedge in the
slower water near the bottom
12/26/16 The stream levels is up and so is the water temperature. That should help the
"catching" of steelhead. We didn't receive any reports this past week, we assume due to
the ice in the water but it should be clear.
01/16/17 The river has been high but back down to near normal stream levels with a
little warmer water averaging about 35-36 degrees. Use steelhead nymphs like our
Giant Black stonefly, Cinnamon or Green sedge larva, for the best results