Copyright 2019 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Vermilion River Ohio
The Vermilion River is one of Ohio's better steelhead
streams. It's a sixty mile long tributary of Lake Erie. The
river is located in northern Ohio. It has excellent runs
of Manistee strain, steelhead. It's also one of the state of
Ohio's Wild and Scenic Rivers. If you happen to be there
at the right time, fly fishing the Vermilion River can be
very rewarding. It can also be very challenging at times.

It's name "Vermilion", a color, is a good description of its
reddish clay banks and much of its bottom. As with any
red clay stream, the Vermilion will get muddy when it is
subjected to heavy rains. The headwaters of the river
lies mostly in farm country. Although the Vermilion River
located in fairly remote country, it's not just wide open
farmland. Much of it is heavily wooded. In some cases
hiking is required to reach the water you may want to

The river can be floated in a small pontoon type vessel
but only when the water is fairly high in the winter or
spring. The substrate consist mostly of shale. There's
also a lot of gravel on the bottom. The stream falls at a
good decline with the typical riffles, pools stream
configuration. There are plenty of deeper holes and
plenty of places for the steelhead to hold in low water
conditions. Although the river turns muddy easily and
takes time to clear, when it does, it can be very clear
and difficult to fool the steelhead into taking your fly.

The uppermost section of the Vermilion River has mostly
a shale bottom with lots of gravel and some deeper
holes. The middle section varies from pure shale bottom
to gravel bottom and deep holes between. The lower
section is generally deeper with shale and some gravel.

Fly anglers prefer swinging their flies in the traditional
wet fly swing manner. Nymphs and eggs are used with
and without strike indicators. Spey fishing is gradually
catching on and it's popularity is increasing.

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 Vermillion River as early
as middle of September. The fishing is good throughout
the Fall.
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.
Type of Stream


Medium to large

Northeastern Ohio

Nearest Town

Fall to late Spring


Special Regulations
Yes, Make sure you check the
current regulations.

Non-Resident License
State of Ohio

National Weather Service Link

USGS Real Time Stream Data

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle, and
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Vermilion River Fly fishing Report:
09/05/18 Get ready for steelhead to enter the river.
They should start in any time, if not already.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
10/28/19 Fishing report at bottom of
10/06/18 Good reports coming in. Stream levels are a
little high but steelhead are being caught mostly
swinging flies. Send us an email for a fly list.
11/26/18 Steelhead are being caught in good numbers
but the stream levels are up over 500 cfs and it need
to fall back down.
01/08/19 Stream levels are in good shape and
steelhead are being caught in good numbers. Swinging,
steelhead nymphs and eggs are working. Send us an
email for a fly list.
03/07/19 The stream is down at a good level and
steelhead are being caught in good numbers. The
water is cold and our steelhead nymphs work best.
07/06/19 Now is the time to get ready for the late
summer (September) run of steelhead.
08/30/19 Steelhead should enter the river by the
middle of this coming month. Shoot us an email for
recommended fly list.
09/10/19 The river is fishing well for smallmouth bass
but no reports of steelhead coming up.
09/21/19 More smallmouth bass reports. Catching
them on our Perfect fly popping bugs, and crayfish
10/02/19 Steelhead are entering the river. Fish near
the mouth of the river.  
10/28/19 The river is running near normal levels and is
in good shape. Steelhead are in the river and we are
getting good reports.