Ohio Fly Fishing

Orvis

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Overview of Ohio Steelhead Fishing in Ohio Tributaries – by Gerald Darkes
Ohio tributaries offer excellent opportunities to tangle with steelhead averaging six to eight pounds, and topping out close to twenty. Ohio steelhead begin to show up in numbers in the tributary streams in late October, and fish can continue to run well into May, weather being the deciding factor. Lake Erie tributaries depend upon precipitation to maintain flows, with periods of high-water triggering fish movements. These streams are mainly slate and shale bottomed with limited gravel areas, and lack cold water feeders to maintain temperatures and flows through the summer.

Natural reproduction is virtually nonexistent, so the Ohio Division of Wildlife obtains Little Manistee (Michigan) fertilized eggs and raises them to smolts. These wild-strain fish have adapted well to Ohio waters, and exhibit high growth and return rates. Approximately 250,000 smolts are stocked each spring, with four major tributaries receiving fish. The Chagrin and Rocky Rivers are true urban fisheries, with many fish caught within a half-hour of downtown Cleveland. The Grand River and Conneaut Creek are in less-developed areas, with portions being quite remote and requiring a bit of walking to access.

Although only the four major tributaries receive stockings, steelhead may be found in any waters entering Lake Erie east of Cleveland. Other streams worth exploring are Arcola Creek, Wheeler and Cowles Creeks, the Ashtabula River, and Turkey Creek. These waters are worth a look when the larger tributaries are unfishable in high water. The tributaries of the Grand River, including Big Creek, Kellogg Creek, and Paineland Mill Creek, also draw fish, especially in the spring.

Ohio steelhead will respond to the flies and techniques used elsewhere throughout the Great Lakes. I usually let time of year and water conditions determine my method of attack. Early-run fish will be aggressive in the higher water temperatures, and have a much greater tendency to respond to moving flies. Swinging or actively retrieving baitfish imitations or attractor patterns will produce many strikes. Floating lines and sink-tips may both be utilized.

After the leaf fall and a good rain to flush out organic matter, the streams change character. The water will “green up,” signaling the start of the prime winter steelheading which lasts until ice-up. The trick is to fish while the streams are dropping and clearing after high water. If a heavy freeze does not occur, fishing can be had throughout the winter.

When stream temperatures are dropping, dead-drifting flies becomes the most effective method of producing fish. I have found that a tandem rig, with an egg pattern and nymph, is deadly. This rig can be suspended under a large indicator, or tight-lined depending upon depth and water flow, and split shot is used to gain depth. This technique will produce at any time, but it’s best as water temperatures drop through the 40s and into the 30s.

Small glo-bugs, and a Pennsylvania creation called the sucker spawn fly, are favorite egg patterns. The sucker spawn pattern has been used in central Pennsylvania for years to catch early-season trout feeding on the roe from spawning suckers-and steelhead love it. Cream is the best color in clear conditions, with chartreuse, orange and pink getting the nod in stained water.

Generic nymph patterns are fine, as there is little natural insect life, and a variety of “buggy looking” patterns should be carried in sizes 10 to 16. Have a selection of colors, as the fish can become very color conscious. Bead-head versions of the Prince or Teeny nymph are effective, and simple black or brown stoneflies are consistent producers. With both eggs and nymphs, change color schemes frequently. Also, decrease fly size as the water clears.

In the warmer water following ice out, a number of fly patterns may produce on a given day. Wooly buggers and egg sucking leeches, both in black, are standard patterns, but purple is my favorite color. Egg patterns and nymphs also continue to work well-I’ve had good success with a variety of large nymphs like the Bitch Creek and girdle bug.

A long, mid-weight rod is ideal for both line control and fighting fish. A ten-footer for 7-weight is a good all-around choice. A weight-forward floating line will cover most situations, but a sink-tip will have occasional applications. Leaders tapering to 3X are a good place to start, but in high, colored waters, 2X may be needed. For dead-drifting and clearer water, leaders up to 10 or 12 feet may be needed, with tippet diameters down to 5X.

A steelhead reel should have a smooth drag to cushion light tippets and prevent small flies from pulling out, and should hold 50 to 100 yards of backing. I have become fond of large-arbor designs for quick line pick-up on active fish.

There is no closed season on Ohio’s Lake Erie tributaries, and peak times are generally the month of December, and from mid-March through April. Two fish can be killed, but most serious steelheaders practice catch and release.

Access to productive water is excellent as miles of rivers are under the control of both the Cleveland (440-234-9597) and Lake County (800-227-7275 ) Metroparks Systems, and maps showing fishing areas are available from both. The Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders has put together a detailed map of Rocky River, and it’s available by calling (440) 572-0400. The Ohio Gazetteer is also helpful for access.

The Ohio steelhead fishery allows anglers to hook large, lake-run fish on flies. Lake Erie tributaries may lack the scenic grandeur of the Northwest , but the fish are there and they are close to home. They are not stream-bred fish, but they do have wild blood. Best of all, they love to eat flies!

Productive Ohio Steelhead Flies
Recently we have been overwhelmed with numerous questions and requests for some of Northeast Ohio’s “Hot Fly Patterns” for Lake Erie Steelhead. So we thought about it long and hard, and we have decided to share the secrets of our success with you all. We have to say that these are the most effective for Lake Erie Steelhead and are proven to also be the most popular among most Steelheader’s as well. Some guy’s have their own secret version of these flies, and others we’ve never even seen before. The first Fly is one of our Favorite’s for Early Fall.

  • Black Bead Head Wooly Bugger: Fished in the Fall, this is a deadly Fly that will produce a strike or two. size’s 10,12, 14, 16
  • Clouser Minnow/Bleeding Minnow: Fished all year this is a Fly that will catch all species of fish, in fresh and salt water. Awesome smallmouth as well!
  • Bead Head Olive Wooly Bugger: Fished mainly in the early Fall, I’ve found myself using it in the winter as well, tipped w/maggots it’s irresistible!
  • White/Pink Sucker Spawn: This is perhaps one of the most productive of all Great Lakes flies for early Spring Steelhead period!
  • Gold Bead Hare’s Ear: This Fly I have used in Fl, Mo, Or, Ca, Wa, and even in Canada for spectacular results with Trout and Bass!

Ohio Fly Fishing Articles
About the Brookville Tailwaters
Several years ago I started fishing the Brookville tailwaters.
www.buckeyeflyfishers.com/Brookville/about_the_brookville_tailwaters
.htm
Akron-Area Largemouths
Ohio’s District Three fisheries biologists are working hard to create trophy-class bass waters for northeast-region anglers — and their program seems to be working.
www.ohiogameandfish.com/oh_aa044004a
Brookville Tailwaters overview
from www.mvff.us
mvff.tripod.com/Brookville.htm
Buckeye Sportsman
Dan Armitage is the state’s best-known outdoor writer…
www.buckeyesportsman.com
Buckeye United Fly Fishers Cininnati, Ohio
fly fishing resource for, fly tying, fly fishing trips, fly fishing news, warm water fishing, trout fishing, for Cincinnati Ohio and the midwest.
www.buckeyeflyfishers.com
Central Ohio Fly Fishers
www.centralohioflyfishers.org
Chagrin River Access Points
www.dnr.state.oh.us/watercraft/boat/rivers/chagrin.html
Chagrin River Salmon Assoc.
www.great-lakes.org/oh/clubprofiles.html#crsa
Chagrin River’s dams are best for metalheads
digstream.go.com/outdoors/fishing/s/f_map_OH_chagrin_river.html
Conneaut Creek
Conneaut Creek is a quality steelhead fishery flowing through Pennsylvania and eventually into Lake Erie in Conneaut, Ohio.
www.flyfishingconnection.com/conneauterie.html
Conneaut Creek Access Points
www.dnr.state.oh.us/watercraft/boat/rivers/conneaut.html
Creating Steelhead Alley
By Rick Kustich
www.flyshop.com/midwest/rksteelheadalley
Early Season Bronzebacks
By Steven Flint
www.theohiosmallmouthalliance.org/Articles/Early%20Season%20Bronze.h
tm
East Fork of the Miami River
home.att.net/~jorgeddr/efriver/index.htm
Erie Bay Bassers
eriebaybassers.tripod.com
Fall steelhead in Erie’s Tribs
Septembers cool rains start to trigger the biological clocks of the thousands of steelhead stacked up at the mouths of our rivers.
www.fisherie.com/dfishinfool/Fallsteelheading.html
Federation of Fly Fishers Ohio Sub-Council
At their quarterly meeting on October 18, 2003, the Federation of Fly Fishers Great Lakes Council (FFF/GLC) established the Ohio Sub Council (OSC) to represent the FFF/GLC Clubs in Ohio and FFF clubs
www.ohiofff.org
Fishconneaut.com.
www.fishconneaut.com/index.htm
Fly Fishing for Ohio Steelhead
from www.ontheflyoutfitters.com
www.ontheflyoutfitters.com/ST_OH_steelheading.htm
Fly Fishing for Small Mouth Bass
By Jeff Aufdencamp
www.smallmouth.org/OhioFlyFishing.html
Fly Fishing for Small Mouth Bass
www.smallmouth.org/OhioFlyFishing.html
Fly Fishing For Smallies
By Jeff Aufdencamp
www.theohiosmallmouthalliance.org/Articles/FLY%20FISHING%20FOR%20SMA
LLIES%20101.htm
Flyin’ for Ohio Smallmouth
by Gerald Darkes
www.flyfishamerica.com/ArticlesReports/MidAmericaRegion/Mid-America(
MW)/MWDarkes98MJ/MWDarkes98MJ.html
Gofishohio
Sport fishing in Ohio
www.gofishohio.com
Goodyear Hunting Fishing Club
www.great-lakes.org/oh/clubprofiles.html#ghfc
Great lakes Steelhead
www.flymartonline.com/article151.html
Great Miami River
by Jeff Clark
www.flyfishamerica.com/ArticlesReports/MidAmericaRegion/Mid-America(
MW)/MWClark99F/MWClark99F.html
Great Miami River overview
from www.mvff.us
mvff.tripod.com/Great_miami.htm
Hook, Line and Steelhead
It was twilight on Elk Creek and in dusky shadows you could see dim shapes of the two anglers a few dozen yards upstream.
www.ohiosteelheaders.com/Articles_Hook.htm
Hybrid Striped Bass: Ohio’s Other Bass
www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/Feature/FishF/hyb_stripedbass_04.htm
If the Water is Cloudy, it’s Clearly Time to Fish
www.ohiosteelheaders.com/
www.ohiosteelheaders.com/articles_water_is_cloudy.htm
In Search of Silver Bullets: Steelhead trout in Ohio
www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/Feature/FishF/steelhead102303.htm
Lake-Link.com
One of The Midwest’s largest sites dedicated to fishing – providing fishing reports, topographical maps, a lake database, message boards, articles, fishing tips and tactics, moon charts, etc
oh.lake-link.com/index.cfm?
Little Beaver Creek smallies top 15 inches
espn.go.com/outdoors/fishing/s/f_map_04_OH_Little_Beaver.html
Mad Men Chapter of Trout Unlimited
www.tumadmen.org/index.html
Mad River
Jorge Villares
home.att.net/~jorgeddr/madriver.htm
Mad River Flies
from Mad River TU
www.tumadmen.org/Flies/flies.html
Mad River overview
mvff.tripod.com/Mad_river.htm
Mad River reports
from Mad River TU
www.tumadmen.org/Stream_Reports/stream_reports.html
Mad River TU newsletter
www.tumadmen.org/newsletter/newsletter.html
May best month for Rocky Fork Lake bassin’
espn.go.com/outdoors/fishing/s/f_map_04_OH_RockyFork_Lake.html
Miami Valley FlyFishers
Dedicated to the improvement and preservation of fly fishing in Ohio
www.mvff.us
Mohican Fly Fishers Club
members.aol.com/flytie111/mohican/mo4.htm
Mysis Shrimp – For Great Lakes Steelhead
www.flymartonline.com/article109.html
North Coast Fly Fishers
North Coast Fly Fishers (NCFF) Premier Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Club in Northern Ohio
ncff.net/
ODNR-Ohio Division of Wildlife
Ohio Division of Wildlife
www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/default.htm
Ohio Bank Fishing
Ohio Bank Fishing
www.geocities.com/ohiobankfishing
Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders
Fishing Clubs raise many of our walleye and salmon for release throughout the Great Lakes come from ponds maintained by fishing clubs boasting better returns than state hatcheries can!
www.great-lakes.org/oh/clubprofiles.html
Ohio Fishermen
Ohio Fishermen.com offers a wealth of information with emphasis on Ohio Muskie, Steelhead, and walleye fishing. Pages include photos, tips, editorial, a forum, and much more.
www.ohiofishermen.com
Ohio Smallmouth Alliance
ohio chapter of the Smallmouth Alliance
www.theohiosmallmouthalliance.org
Ohio Steelhead Fishing
www.flymartonline.com/article106.html
Ohio Steelhead on a Fly
by Gerald Darkes
www.flyfishamerica.com/ArticlesReports/MidAmericaRegion/Mid-America(
MW)/MWDarkes98JF/MWDarkes98JF.html
Ohio’s 2004 Lake Erie Forecast
Ohio’s top fisheries biologists are optimistic about the opportunities for anglers on Lake Erie in 2004.
www.ohiogameandfish.com/oh_aa053904a
Ohios Hottest August Muskie Lakes
If you
www.ohiogameandfish.com/oh_aa084004a
Our States Best Bass Fishing
Here’s a look at what’s coming up in 2004 for Buckeye State bass anglers.
www.ohiogameandfish.com/oh_aa033904a
Reflections From The Rivers Edge
by: Les Ober, NCFF
www.ncff.net/reflections-1.htm
Southern Ohio Muskie Hunters
Southern Ohio Muskie Hunters
home.fuse.net/rockyfmh/index.html
Steelhead guide
www.steelheadguide.com
Steelhead Trout Fishing in Ohio
www.fishconneaut.com/streamfishing.htm
Steelhead trout’s eating habits baffling to fisheries biologists
from www.ohiosteelheaders.com/
www.ohiosteelheaders.com/Article_Eating_habits.htm
Stillwater River overview
from www.mvff.us/
water.htm
The Ohio Outdoor Experience
formerly Wolf Creek Trout Club
www.ohiooutdoor.com
The Steelhead Site
Good forum for fishing the Lake Eerie tribs in Ohio
steelheadsite.com/reports/ohio/
Two Ohio Trout Streams
Flyfisherman.com article about the Clear Fork and Mad River
www.flyfisherman.com/midwest/rmohio
Western Waterways Offer Good Fishing
We welcome the trout releases in the Vermilion River…
www.ohiosteelheaders.com/Article_Western_Waterways.htm
Where and how to fish for Great Lakes steelhead
I prefer the larger of the Steelhead Alley drainages.
www.flyfisherman.com/midwest/rksteelheadalley/index1.html
Winter Steelhead in Erie’s Tribs
It’s not easy to have constant success while winter steelheading in Ohio and Pennsylvania…
www.fisherie.com/dfishinfool/WinterSteelheading.html
Young fish found frequenting the Flats
The five-mile industrial section of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland is supporting young fish, much to the surprise of researchers.
www.ohiosteelheaders.com/Articles_Fish_In_Cuyahoga.htm

Ohio Fly Fishing Boat ramps
River Acess Ohio
www.ohiodnr.com/watercraft/boat/nerivers.htm
FishConneaut Discussion Board
www.fishconneaut.com/discussion.htm

Ohio Fly Fishing Guides
Dfishinfool’s Guide Service
Come experience the thrills of steelhead fishing on the world famous “Steelhead Alley”
www.dfishinfool.com

Ohio Hatch Charts
Guide To Midwest USA Hatches
globalflyfisher.com/fishbetter/mwhatches/index.php
Mad River hatches
jorgeddr.home.att.net/madhatch.htm

Ohio Fly Fishing Maps
Arcola, Wheeler, & Cowles
Steelhead Trout Fishing Map
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/arcola.pdf
Ashtabula River map
Steelhead Trout Fishing Map
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/ashtabula.pdf
Brookville Tailwaters map
from buckeyeflyfishers.com
buckeyeflyfishers.com/Brookville/brookville.JPG
Chagrin River Fishing Maps
www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/PDF/chagrin.pdf
Chagrin River map
digstream.go.com/outdoors/fishing/f_map_bare_OH_chagrin_river.html
Chagrin River map
PDF
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/chagrin.pdf
Clear Fork Branch of the Mohican
steelhead map
www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/PDF/Clear%20Fork%20of%20Mohican%20map.p
df
Conneaut Creek
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/conneaut.pdf
Conneaut Creek Fishing Maps
www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/PDF/conneaut.pdf
Conneaut Creek Map in PA
by Fish Erie
www.fishusa.com/FishErie/Map2.asp
Euclid Creek
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/arcola.pdf
Mad River maps
from Mad River TU
www.tumadmen.org/Maps/StRt36ToOldTroy.html
North Chagrin Map
www.clemetparks.com/pdf/reservations/North_Chagrin.pdf
Ohio lake maps
from Ohio Department of Natural Resources
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/Fishing/lakemaps/lmaps.htm
Ohio lake maps
www.ohiogamefishing.com/index.php?page=lakemap
Ohio lake maps
from gofishohio.com
www.gofishohio.com/lakemaps
Rocky River
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/arcola.pdf
South Chagrin Map
www.clemetparks.com/pdf/reservations/South_Chagrin.pdf
Vermillion River map
Erie and Lorain Counties steelhead
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/PDF/vermilion.pdf

Ohio Fly Fishing Reports
Brookville Tail Waters
David French is B.U.F.F. s Brookville Tail Waters coordinator.
buckeyeflyfishers.com/Brookville/brookville.htm
Conneaut reports
www.fishconneaut.com/fishreport.htm
Lake Erie Fishing Report
from Ohio Department of Natural Resources
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/fishing/freport/lakeerieweekly.htm
Lake Erie Steelhead River Reports
www.steelheadguide.com/River%20Reports.htm
Mad River Report
from www.buckeyeflyfishers.com
buckeyeflyfishers.com/Mad_River/mad_frame.htm
Ohio Fishing Reports
from www.madriveroutfitters.com
www.madriveroutfitters.com/fishing%20reports.htm
Ohio reports – includes Mad River and Northeast
from Central Ohio Fly Fishers
www.centralohioflyfishers.org/Fishing%20reports.htm#NEOhio
Ohio steelhead reports
by Don Dfishinfool Mathews
www.fisherie.com/dfishinfool/ArticlesList.html
Ohio steelhead reports
from www.steelheadquarters.com
www.steelheadquarters.com/angler_reports.htm
Ohio Stream Conditions
from Adrien Fly Fishing Outfitters
www.affo.com/stream_conditions.html
Ohio Stream Reports
The Steelhead Site fly fishing reports for Ohio tributaries to Lake Erie from anglers, guides and DNR sources
steelheadsite.com/reports/ohio
Steelheadquarters
www.steelheadquarters.com/weekly_reports.htm
Stream Conditions
Mad River and Little Miami Stream Conditions
www.affo.com/stream_conditions.html

Ohio Stream Flows
Brookville Tail Waters streamflows
waterdata.usgs.gov/in/nwis/uv?site_no=03276000
Mad River Water Level
Real-time data for USGS 03267900 Mad River at St Paris Pike at Eagle City OH
waterdata.usgs.gov/oh/nwis/uv?03267900

Ohio Fly Fishing Forums

Lake Erie Western Basin
www.fishusa.com/Discussion2/summary.asp?forum=AMB%5FAP455061329
Lake Erie Central Basin
www.fishusa.com/Discussion2/summary.asp?forum=AMB%5FAP986975934
Lake-Links.com – Ohio forum
oh.lake-link.com/fishreports/index.cfm?
Mad River Fly Fishers Message Board
Ohio
mvff.proboards29.com
Ohio Game Fishing forums
www.ohiogamefishing.com/forums/index.php

Ohio Fly Fishing Shops

Adrien Fly-Fishing Outfitters
7829 Cooper Rd, Cincinnati Ohio 45252; 513 794 1100
www.affo.com
Delamere & Hopkins (BestGear.com )
2708 Erie Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45208; 1-800-BARBOUR
www.bestgear.com
Mad River Outfitters Home
813 Bethel Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43214; 888-451-0363
www.madriveroutfitters.com

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