CLEVELAND, Ohio — If you’re a rainbow trout angler, all you can do on Friday morning is watch the river level rise and wait a while. It will take a few days for rivers in northeast Ohio that were covered in ice a few days ago to calm down after Thursday’s rains.
It’s the transition time of the year for steelheaders. The ice on the river is rapidly clearing, Lake Erie’s harbors – and boat launches – will soon be open, and new runs of rainbow trout are expected from Lake Erie to kick off the bumper spring fishery.
But as usual, waiting for the best fishing conditions in the spring can be confusing.
“The good news is that the ice jam on the Rocky River in the marina area downstream was blown out by the rains and high water,” said aquatic biologist Mike Durkalec. “The river still won’t be fishable for a few days, but the spring run of rainbow trout will shift (from Lake Erie) as the water goes down.”
Break out the Barbie Rods: It is quite difficult to catch and land a feisty rainbow trout from any of the rivers and streams in northeast Ohio. It’s much more difficult when you have to use an extremely lightweight version of children’s fishing tackle, the iconic Shakespeare Barbie fishing rod.
The annual Barbie Rod Steelhead Derby will take place on Saturday, April 2 on the Rocky River, and bragging rights and a few prizes will reward anglers lucky enough to successfully land a killer on the small tackle.
Any version of plastic fishing rod for children is allowed. Check in after 8:00 AM at the South Mastick Picnic Area located off Valley Parkway in the Rocky River Preserve, south of Puritas Road/Mastick Road in Fairview Park. There will also be a BBQ at noon, an awards ceremony and a draw from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The tournament was created for fun and to raise money for the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund, and organized for years by Mark Warren. Park officials will take over this year, with the raffle hosted by the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders, a longtime supporter.
In the event of flooding or impossible fishing conditions, anglers can weigh rainbow trout caught in Cleveland Metroparks area lakes.
Walleye Slam announces Saturday’s events: On Saturday, the Walleye Slam Awards night at the Columbus Fishing Expo presented Cleveland’s Jake Runyan with the top prize in the 2021 Lake Erie Walleye Derby, a fully rigged 23-foot Warrior fishing boat. Tournament Director Craig Lewis also launched the expanded 2022 Walleye Slam schedule on Lake Erie, which includes a new series of Walleye Slam Saturday events.
“We had a great season and wanted to expand the appeal of the Walleye Slam with Saturday events all along the Ohio coastline,” Lewis said. The Fall Derby will remain, however, with the 2022 Walleye Slam scheduled for October 14-November 14. 27.
Walleye Slam’s ladders will be on the move, however. Weigh-in sites will be hosted by an area tackle store, beginning with Happy Hooker Fishing just west of Port Clinton on April 9. Sandusky Bait Company in Sandusky will host Walleye Slam Saturdays April 23 and May 7, followed by Cranberry Creek Marina in Huron on May 21 and Erie Outfitters (June 4).
A Golden Super Slam will take place June 10-17, with weigh-ins at Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake and a fully rigged Starcraft Fishmaster 196 as the top prize. Walleye Slam Saturdays will continue at DB Marine in Geneva (August 6); Erie Outfitters (August 20), Lakeshore Bait & Tackle (September 3), Erie Outfitters (September 17) and Mid-Ohio Sporting Goods (September 27).