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Steelhead stream maps are available on-line (Click here)

Ohio's Lake Erie Steelhead Fishing

Fall SteelheadingStream and pier anglers have an excellent opportunity to catch quality-sized steelhead trout from September through May.

The Division of Wildlife annually stocks five Lake Erie tributary streams with 6-8" yearling Little Manistee River (Michigan) strain of 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 5-6 pounds. These fish have usually spent 2-3 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 Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Huron and Black rivers, and Arcola, Cowles, Wheeler, French, Euclid, Turkey, Beaver and Cold creeks get runs of stray steelhead. While Division of Wildlife biologists have 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 are 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 2007, 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 targeted 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 State Fish Hatchery.

Where to catch 'em:

Vermilion River: Fish from the river mouth to Wakeman.
Rocky River: Fish the Huntington piers and from the Metroparks marina up to Cedar Point pools.
Cuyahoga River: Fish the harbor area and breakwalls up thru the CVNRA park.
Chagrin River: Fish from the soccer fields to the access above Daniels Park.
Grand River: 

Fish from the Fairport pier up to Harpersfield. Note: Bridge replacement work on State Route 84 over the Grand R. in Painesville is complete for the season.

Arcola Creek: Fish the beach and estuary pond area.
Ashtabula River: Fish from the Walnut Creek breakwall up through Indian Trails Park.
Conneaut Creek: Fish from the harbor up to the PA border.

Winter SteelieClick 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!

For additional information about Rocky River Metroparks and their weekly fishing report, click here.

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.

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 (data affected by bridge construction), Chagrin, Rocky and Vermilion.

Want to know how much rain or snow fell in the last 24 hours?

How to catch 'em:

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 6-9 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 in the fall, and move into 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. Then in April-May, 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

Sandusky Fish Research Unit

Ohio DNR, Division of Wildlife
305 E. Shoreline Dr.
Sandusky, Ohio 44870
Phone: 419-625-8062
Fax: 419-625-6272

Division of Wildlife information: 1-800-WILDLIFE


2005 ODNR, Division of Wildlife