Cleveland Metroparks, Bonnie Park, trout fishing

STRONGSVILLE, OH – I’m usually a person of many words.  Lately, not so much.  During this pandemic, I needed to do something that would provide salve to the soul of a thoroughly exhausted person.  Thankfully, the Cleveland Metroparks would provide the prescription.

I had only been to Bonnie Park on one previous trip, and it wasn’t to fish.  That didn’t matter.  This is not in the sense that I had an abundance of confidence that I could catch Rainbow Trout considering they had just been stocked.  It was more simply that I was outside with a fishing pole in my hand watching my kids having fun running around and playing outside.  The world once again seemed normal, at least for a few fleeting hours.

On a day that was destined for perfection, the fish had no choice but to cooperate.  I had my two fish limit within the first hour.  The Rainbow Trout measured 17.5” and 16” respectively, both being marked up handsomely with a bright red stripe.  I found myself content and my fishing effort waned, as I took in the surroundings and enjoyed the peace of the beautiful evening.  I’m convinced I could have assisted the kids to get our three person limit had I tried, instead I believe those extra four fish still swimming were meant for someone else who is arriving to the park in the same state I did.  I hope they catch them.

Ending and starting the year, at Wallace Lake

Arriving at a favorite fishing destination

BEREA, OH – Just getting out fishing, regardless of success or not, seems to be the goal of late.  I didn’t do nearly as well as I hoped in 2019 as far as the amount of time spent fishing.  With the holidays providing a little extra time off from work, I tried to make up for some lost time.  While I do enjoy ice fishing, if it’s not cold enough to create good safe ice, I prefer it to be mild enough to go out on the kayak in relative comfort.  The unseasonably warm weather allowed just that, and my final fishing of 2019 and first fishing of 2020 would be from the ‘yak.

The last fish caught of 2019

The kayak fishing wasn’t very successful, with just one fish was caught.  While it was a nice fish, a rather healthy Crappie, it wasn’t like I was catching them in great numbers.  It also wasn’t a mixed in catch amongst the trout I was targeting, it was just a lone fish.  I reminded myself what a blessing it was just to be out, healthy enough to be kayaking, and reminisced over 2019.  Fishing is a lot like life in general, moments of great joy and success, and pain and failure.  This past year had it’s share of pain with the loss of two close relatives, that has remained too difficult to blog about.

The author with a limit of Wallace Lake trout

A few fish that will serve finely for table fare

While I would end 2019 with some tough fishing, my second time fishing in the new year was marked by tremendous success.  It may have been that I wasn’t as rusty as I had thought, but just the reality that the fish stocked on December 16th may not have spread out across the lake as I had expected.  With some advice from a friend, I hit an area that I had not covered on the kayak in previous trips.  This resulted in a total of 8-9 landed Rainbow Trout, quite the difference to be catch and releasing after a limit, than fighting to get a single bite!

The color and markings on this small fish were beautiful

It can sometimes be challenging to determine whether to keep or release a fish.  I never want to have more than two until I am leaving, just in case one of those bonus fish find their way to my hook.  If you read the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Blog, you can see some of those choice specimen get landed now and then.  These fish provide a little more fun and excitement, just knowing they are out there.  I have managed only one, a very interestingly colored Brown Trout on my first kayak outing of 2019 (can see that fish here).  On today’s trip, it was just a wide range of size, shape, and color of Rainbow Trout.  One of the reasons I love the species, is just how much diversity there is within it.  The above pictured fish, was one of the smallest of the day, but most handsome.  It was released.  A nice couple fishing near me, showed me their stunning Brook Trout that was deeply colored with the bright orange fins tipped in white.  A spectacular fish!

An example of two very different variations of Rainbow Trout caught today 

The two fish pictured above are great examples of the uniqueness of each individual fish.  I’m not sure if I am the exception or other anglers are like me, in that I appreciate each catch.  Even if I only inspect it briefly before a quick release, I always find myself taking a quick note of it’s characteristics.  Maybe it’s my inner child, that simply has never stopped enjoying anything I catch!

Wallace Lake, ice fishing for trout

BEREA, OH – You know something is awesome if you love it even though you aren’t good at it.  That is me with ice fishing.  There is just something inherently cool about walking onto the water, drilling a hole, and pulling a fish out of it.  I’ve pretty much mastered the first two, but the last is a struggle.  The past few years, I’ve invested a little more time online researching and increasing my knowledge base which has improved my on the water success.  The culmination of this effort recently was realized with a limit of stocker trout (and some bonus catches) at Wallace Lake.  While this day might hardly be a blip on the map for an accomplished ice anger, it probably represents the best I have ever done on an ice outing.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story…

Destination

Hopeful anglers

Where my ice fishing photos usually end

A fine Rainbow Trout through the ice

A good looking trout a bit over 14 inches

A somewhat chunky fish around 16 inches

Side by side comparison of the last two fish

A beautiful small fish that was released

Behind every picture is a memory, and I wish somehow I could translate in words just how exciting every catch was.  Maybe once I have become more masterful with ice fishing, each catch may not be as meaningful.  As it stands right now, any fish caught on the ice is a big deal, and the excitement and ‘newness’ of catching through the ice hasn’t worn off.  I can understand why ice fishing has it’s own niche of people who specialize in it and consider it their favorite method to fish.  My largest fish of the day put up an amazing spirited fight, and trying to get it head first to the hole and then lift out with my other hand was adrenaline packed fun… and this was just a 16″ fish!  After I got it on the ice, the hook came out and it nearly jumped back in the hole.  I scooted it away from the hole and it almost slid into another nearby hole… when I finally got it contained I was beyond relieved and just sat there thinking “how much fun is this?!”.

The day was likely the most successful I have ever had on the ice.  My confidence is improved.  If you’ve read my previous post detailing the Cleveland Metroparks stocking, you know there are some extra special fish swimming in these lakes.  This includes some Brown, Brook, and Golden Trout.  While these remain my most hoped for catches through the ice, my banner day was not diminished in the slightest because I didn’t encounter one.  I just will continue to hope…

Along with the photos included in this post, I did catch a White Crappie and a Bluegill.  I missed a good number of bites, and lost one trout at the hole.  I made some new friends with nearby anglers and also got to see what had to be one of the biggest catches of the day anywhere on the lake.  Near the end of the day, a guy near me landed a Rainbow that was a bit over 18″ and it had some shoulders on it.  From covering the stocking, I knew the size potential of a few of the best specimen, and he certainly found one.  He was stoked over the catch and I have to imagine any angler with a pulse would be.  I was excited just getting to see the catch.

So there you have it, the most fun I’ve ever had on the ice.  I can’t wait to get out again!

Cleveland Metroparks Winter Trout Stocking 2019

HINCKLEY, OH – This week I had the opportunity to observe a few Cleveland Metroparks trout stockings.  This was the final of two rounds of winter trout stockings that occurred at Wallace, Shadow, Judge’s, Ledge, and Ranger Lakes.  I suppose I will state the obvious, now is the time to get to any of these lakes for this awesome annual fishing opportunity.  Along with the sheer numbers of fish, there are some exceptional individual specimens that are worthy of trophy status in anyone’s book.  If you read this post in it’s entirety, I will elaborate more on that.

Owen and Michael all smiles despite the actual hard work it takes to do the stockings

A net full of memories waiting for skilled (or lucky) anglers!

They make it look effortless, but that can is HEAVY  (I was happy to be the photographer!)

I was surprised that the stocking of trout actually was quite laborious.  It involved manually netting the fish and then lifting them into a large rubber trash can. After that, the trash can full of fish and water has to be carried down to the water for the release.  I’m certain many of you assumed that it was just a tank that pulls up to the lake with a giant hose that shoots them in.  I myself, assumed that from media I had seen online, and from watching an ODNR stocking some years ago at Swanton Reservoir in Northwest Ohio.  While it does seem like ‘fun’ work, it truly was work.  I only assisted on a couple trips down to the water and my back let me know it was work!

What a beautiful Brown Trout

An equally stunning Brook Trout

An eager Brook Trout didn’t need dumped, it jumped to its new home

There wasn’t a single fish that I observed that wouldn’t have put a smile on a fortunate angler’s face, but there were some that would be extremely special catches.  This included some Brown and Brook Trout, some Golden Trout (only at a few locations, not all lakes), and some of all species that were substantially large.  While my personal target would be these special species stocked in lower numbers than the Rainbows, a giant Rainbow would certainly be exciting!  I am always impressed by the overall quality of trout that the Cleveland Metroparks stock, and this round was no exception.  I pray some of these fish have a future encounter with me in the coming weeks.

I remain grateful to the Cleveland Metroparks for their efforts to provide recreational opportunities.  Specifically, their associates like Michael and Owen who carry out the mission so well.  They are not simply astute and credentialed in their chosen field, but passionate fisherman too.  I am certain this contributes to how these lakes are managed so successfully.

I hope all of you get a chance to target these fish and feel free to shoot me an email about how you do or leave a comment.  Don’t forget to visit the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Blog to get fishing related news and view some of the catches.  Finally, please consider making a donation to the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund if you want to make a monetary gesture of gratitude – that also helps continuation of programs like these trout stockings.

Wallace Lake, multi-species from the kayak

BEREA, OH – I returned to Wallace Lake a few days after the fishing derby, solo this time with the kayak.  A bit of mixed emotion with the day’s success after the poor showing with the kids.  I would have gladly traded these catches for just a single fish for each of them to reel in.  That’s how fishing goes though and I certainly wont say that just because I didn’t catch any with them, that I hoped I wouldn’t catch any without them!  Just a little fisherman’s honesty there!

A very nice sized Wallace Lake catfish

The fishing started fast as I caught a Largemouth Bass on one of my first few casts.  I had also used a second rod to still fish (and slightly drift) which yielded a very nice 22″ catfish.  After those two catches I decided to focus on the trout as that was my main target of the day.  While I did have to work for them, I did get a limit.

Typical stocker Rainbow Trout

After catching the 3 fish limit of trout (only 1 was kept that wasn’t fit for release), I played around in the shallower areas sight fishing.  I got a few bumps and follows but nothing else was caught except a single Bluegill.  The day had grown exceptionally hot, and I was pleased with catching four species and accomplishing the trout limit goal.  Being more than content, I called it a day.

Memorial Day Weekend, Wallace Lake

The tail end of my kayak and the fountain at Wallace Lake

BEREA, OH – It’s fair to say I am more patriotic than most people.  I love our country and especially our veterans.  I am a strong believer and supporter of American exceptionalism and no words can describe how I feel about those who have laid down their lives for this great nation.  While my fishing blog is not used as a political platform, I just wanted to acknowledge my fantastic weekend both fishing and enjoying my family was a direct result of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

One of six Largemouth Bass caught

A week had passed since the Children’s Fishing Derby at Wallace Lake that I had blogged about here.  I thought there would be a strong likelihood of trout remaining and of course my shot at a Golden Trout.  The Cleveland Metroparks released 100 of them in conjunction with their Centennial Celebration.  The Golden Trout would continue to elude me, but their was plenty of action to make for a banner day of kayak fishing.  In the end, I tallied six Largemouth Bass caught and released and my three fish limit of Rainbow Trout.  A few more trout were released after hitting the limit.

The author with a rare smiling photo

A quality sized stocker measuring a bit over 14 inches

The bass were caught on 1/32 ounce jigs with Berkley Gulp! Minnows, and the trout all were brought to net via inline spinners.  I have no idea what size a keeper bass is as I only release them, but if it is 12″, a couple would have been a little better or under that mark.  Two of the three trout kept were rather decent for stockers, I only measured the largest, that fish a tad over 14″.

The end of the day

Memorial Day Weekend tends to offer time for a lot of folks to fish.  I was excited to see so many people, especially kids, fishing on my Facebook and Instagram feeds.  I couldn’t have been happier with the results of my day (well unless I finally caught a Golden), and hope others had success.  Even if the fish didn’t cooperate for you, I am certain the time was well spent!

A giant fish, stocker trout, & friends

BEREA, OH –  Some days are just about perfect, today was one of them.  If nothing more would have happened than getting to kayak fish on a 60 degree day near the end of January in northern Ohio – it would have been great.  When you add a giant fish, catch and releasing more than a limit of the targeted species, and fishing amongst friends it is truly a special day.

cwf01212017grasscarpA giant White Amur aka “Grass Carp”

A few years ago, I perfected some tactics to catch Grass Carp at a lake in Medina and the pond in my back yard.  The highlight was a huge fish caught by throwing some green leafy plants on the surface, and mixing in a leaf that had a single hook in it.  That fish was never documented.  In one of those ‘what was I thinking?!’ moments (this particular excuse applies to several memorable fish) I had decided it was necessary to clean the fish off before snapping a few photos.  It’s probably not necessary to fill in the blanks, but yes, right out of my hands the fish swam away.  I was pretty dejected to say the least.  It was my hope whether targeting or inadvertent, that I would encounter the same class fish at some point.  Most importantly, that the new story would end with a photo.  As you see above, on this day that happened and a bit of fishing redemption was mine.  I use the term “a bit” because the other fish took my offering in the mouth and was a catch in the purest sense.  Today’s fish ended up snagged after I kept casting where I saw a big fin breach the water.  While legal in Ohio for this species, it will never measure up to the first fish due to this.

cwf01212017rainbowA small stocker Rainbow Trout

Almost lost in my mind completely over the big fish, was that the targeted species was stocker Rainbow Trout.  The trout were placed in early December and it was apparent a good number remained.  While not fast and furious, I did get my 3 fish limit and continued to catch & release another 3 or 4.  A few fish came on the non-glorious (but always productive) Powerbait and the others on a Panther Martin inline spinner.  All of the trout I caught were rather small, and all Rainbows.  The Cleveland Metroparks do a great job of mixing in some bigger trout, some Golden, and a few others species of trout with most, if not all stockings.  I have never caught any of the ‘bonus’ fish despite a substantial effort in the number of times I’ve been out.

cwf01212017kayakThe author’s reaction to someone else’s big trout!

The photo above captures me reacting to someone else catching one of those ‘bonus’ fish I can’t seem to get.  I hope it shows my sportsmanship or a lot about my personality to see my joy over someone else getting a nice catch.  The unseasonably warm weather brought out a good number of kayak anglers, and this fortunate angler landed a very sizeable Rainbow.

cwf01212017kenAmongst the kayak anglers on the lake, was at least one face that looked familiar to me.  It turns out it was Ken Morris, a Pro Staffer for a few brands and definitely a well respected person in the kayak and fishing community.  I had first seen Ken in a Facebook Group we both belong to, CLE Kayak Angers, and it was nice to formally meet.  He has a wealth of knowledge and one of those people that freely offers his expertise and insight.  I hope to do some planned fishing trips with him in the future.  Ken mentioned the River Bassin Tournament Trail, a paddle-powered catch, photo, and release fishing tournament series.  It looks really outstanding and I wanted to give it some exposure on my blog.  Check it out!

One day, three kayak fishing locations

CWF05282016A fine Rainbow Trout from the kayak, at Wallace Lake

BEREA, OH – The previous weekend’s Kid’s Fishing Derby at Wallace Lake had me wondering if there were any stocker Rainbow Trout remaining.  If you read my previous post covering the event, you will know I did not give the fishing it’s due effort, which also left me feeling a bit bummed.  I was hopeful fish would remain, but also knew the lake would have had considerable pressure.

With an opportunity to fish nearly all of the day, I was fortunate that my plan could include multiple destinations.  I decided I would fish Wallace Lake for a few hours before moving on to the Rocky River at Emerald Necklace Marina and then into Lake Erie.

Getting on to the water at Wallace Lake, I was greeted with a nice Bluegill on my second cast.  This didn’t end up meaning anything as to the pace of the fishing as I would go nearly an hour and a half before the next strike.  That strike turned out to be a small Largemouth Bass.  Fortunately, I got this bite or I may have been out of the water by the time I hit the two hour mark where I had planned to leave.  As I fished on, I began to convince myself that it was unlikely many fish remained.  The lake is not so big as to not see a good number of shore anglers at any given time, and I had not seen a single trout taken by anyone.  I am not sure what motivated me to keep throwing my inline spinner and revise my departure time, but I did.  Finally, I got another hit and felt the pull of a bit better fish than the previous two.  As I got the fish close to the boat I could see it was a trout, and a fine sized one for a stocker.  Fish landed without issue, just under 17″.

The kayak view at the mouth of the Rocky River

With goal number one for the day accomplished by catching a trout out of Wallace Lake, it was on to the next missions.  While not so specific, I just wanted to catch some fish in the Rocky River and Lake Erie.  I headed north through the Rocky River Reservation and put the kayak in at Emerald Necklace Marina.  The river was pretty busy with boat traffic, both large and small crafts.  Who knows if this contributed to keeping fish out of the area but I had no hookups, just conversations with other paddling enthusiasts.  Moving on to the lake, my luck didn’t change.  All of my offerings were refused other than drifting worm harnesses that were getting destroyed by Round Gobies.  I landed a few of them to confirm what species was bait robbing me, and gave up on trying to get anything else to bite.  The weather changed too, and I called it a day.

I wish the river or lake would have given up a nice fish or two, but I was happy I got out, and I always get ideas for the next trip and how to be more successful.

Cleveland Metroparks, Children’s Fishing Derby

By random circumstance, I finally had a few moments to catch up on the Cleveland Metroparks fishing blog.  I was surprised to learn that right as I was reading, the annual Children’s Fishing Derby had just started at Wallace Lake in Berea that very morning.  While we were already an hour into the event, I hustled my son out the door.

Bryce and I are no strangers to these events as we have done several, but it was admittedly different to arrive late.  Most of the better, easier places to fish were taken, which left us casting under a tree with ominous branches that displayed numerous trophies of tackle they had claimed.  We didn’t let it discourage us, and went about our fishing.  About a half hour in, Bryce reeled in a small Bluegill.  After the catch, I noticed Bryce was more pre-occupied with the carnival type atmosphere of the registration area and decided to quit fishing.

CWF05222016bWith things like the above ‘museum on wheels’ with huge animal graphics on the sides, I could understand why Bryce wanted to explore more of the area away from the water.  It’s funny how sometimes we can learn from our children.  I was consumed with getting him catching fish and making up for lost time from being late, only to have him at peace and happy finding enjoyment in other activities besides catching fish.  It rubbed off on dad, and I was having fun too.

CWF05222016cIn the above photo, Jessica was very encouraging by giving out ‘high-fives’ for correctly identifying the fish species in the dioramas.  Bryce also helped us to discover the plexiglass worked as an effective sneeze-guard, who knew?!

CWF05222016gThe always popular aquarium with some of the day’s catches draws my son to it like tweens to a Justin Bieber concert.  Fortunately, most everyone was fishing which allowed him to dominate the front row view.  I admittedly always enjoy the aquarium myself, which seems to be a nice fixture to look forward to at the events.  I do wish we would have been able to contribute a catch to it.

CWF05222016eBryce always wants to be the intellectually superior person when it comes to fish knowledge with his peers.  Cleveland Metroparks Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec, pictured above, is always kind enough to share some knowledge.  Some people have a gift with teaching, and Mike has it.

05222016fAfter a conversation with this young lady’s dad, I learned she had caught a nearly microscopic fish in a small plastic bucket.  I almost went blind trying to spot it, but it was there.  Too bad for her that the Smallest Fish Award required being caught on hook and line, or she would have won easily.  I’m sure she was fine without the award, as anyone rocking “Fish Ohio” cheek art knows who is boss.  Bryce and I didn’t find the tattoos, not sure if I could have pulled off the look.

I apologize that this post doesn’t have any awesome fish pictures in it, but most assuredly I can tell you many great fish were caught.  Click here to see some of the catches.  The way the day turned out, Bryce and I simply weren’t by the water to make our own catches or see neat catches being made around us.  We had fun with the activities pictured above, conversations, great hot dogs and the casting station.  For those that have never gone to one of these events, I want to note that loaner fishing rods were offered to those that needed them and free bait.  It also goes without saying that there are always numerous volunteers and staff offering free instruction.

A big thank you to the Cleveland Metroparks for another wonderfully fun family event!