CLEVELAND, Ohio – The fishing gene was conspicuously absent in most of my family members, but for some reason I had a burning desire to dip worms and catch bluegills and catfish at a very young age. The best options were a small farm pond in Parma or the fishing pier at Edgewater Park on Lake Erie.
Both required a pint-sized child to go on a long bus ride with bait and tackle.
It was a very long time ago. There are plenty of fishing options for kids and their parents these days, and one of the best for a beginning angler is a trip to the Kid’s Fishing Tournaments at Wallace Lake in Berea and the Ohio Canal Fishing Area & Erie at Cuyahoga Heights. All ingredients are provided by Cleveland Metroparks and its special fishing fund, including a loaner rod and live bait if needed. The fish will be there too. Rainbow trout and channel catfish were released this week by Metroparks into both lakes.
Wallace Lake will host the free kids’ derby on Saturday, May 21. Follow signs on Valley Parkway in Mill Stream Run Reservation, south of Bagley Road in Berea.
The Ohio & Erie Canal Fishing Zone will be in action on Sunday, May 22. Park in the Canalway Center parking lot, located down the hill from the East 49th Street entrance to the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation in Cuyahoga Heights. Follow the trail from the parking lot to the canal.
For more information, call Youth Outdoors at 216-206-1010. If the parents aren’t accomplished anglers, plenty of experts from the Cleveland Metroparks and Central Ohio Basin Steelheaders will be on hand. Every day, children aged 4 to 8 can cast a line from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Children from 9 to 15 years old can fish from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Children will be able to register on arrival at the large tents set up on each site.
The boys and girls will fish prizes for the biggest trout, the biggest “other fish” and the smallest fish. There will also be a Casting Challenge competition and prizes for young people.
For elderly parents and angling instructors, there will be a shuttle between the parking areas and the fishing waters. For adults who want to fish a little with the kids, hang around. Both children’s fishing areas will be open to adults after 4 p.m., but not before.
Upcoming fishing clinics: Cleveland Metroparks will be offering a basic fishing session on Tuesday, May 31 from 6-9 p.m. at Lake Wallace in Berea. A pair of “Try-It: Fly Fishing” seminars will be held Wednesday, June 1 at the Cottonwood Reserved Shelter on the Rocky River, just south of the Mastick and Puritas roads on Valley Parkway.
Rocky River still has appeal: The popular spring rainbow trout fishery in the Rocky River is winding down right now, as spawning trout return to Lake Erie. Unlike salmon that spawn and die, rainbow trout will fat this summer on Lake Erie baitfish and return year after year.
To pick up the slack, smallmouth bass move into the rivers of northeastern Ohio to spawn. They are eager to feed and will attack tube jigs, spinnerbaits, small dive plugs and spinners. Most anglers catch and release rainbow trout and smallmouth bass. Walleye that venture into the lower reaches will most often become the fisherman’s meal.
Walleye navigating the shallow waters of Lake Erie: Lake Erie’s abundant schools of walleye have been a boon this spring for anglers casting lures from the harbor’s breakwater walls. Once the sun goes down, walleye head to the rocky shallows to feed on gizzard shad and other baitfish. Throw minnow-style stoppers like the Husky Jerk, Bandit, and Smithwick Perfect 10, varying recovery speeds early and often.
Anglers will need a long handle on their fishing net and a lantern to navigate the changing lures and climb around the breakwater walls. Many catches and fishing spots have become well-kept secrets. The East 55th Street neighborhood has been a hotspot and is usually crowded after dark.
Metroparks Ramps, Fishing Cleaning Station: The state-of-the-art fish cleaning station at Gordon Park on Cleveland’s lakeside reopened for the season this week, giving anglers an easy option to net walleye, yellow perch and abundant rock bass in the harbor of Cleveland.
Metroparks boat ramp purchase kiosks are now used.