Cuyahoga River is a large, shale-bottom tributary to Lake Erie that receives a spring run of Little Manistee steelhead. The Cuyahoga is probably best known as the "river that caught fire" helping to spur the environmental movement in the late 1960's and ultimately to the passing of the Clean Water Act.
Water quality in the Cuyahoga has improved dramatically since the days when it used to burn (it actually caught fire 13 times). If fact, the Cuyahoga River was named as one of 14 American Heritage Rivers in 1998.
Cuyahoga River Steelhead Trout Fishing Map
While the history of the Cuyahoga River is interesting, that's not why you are reading this article. You want to know where to catch steelhead that make an annual run up the Cuyahoga, right?
Fortunately for you, the Ohio DNR has published a map of designated steelhead fishing areas on the lower Cuyahoga River. Public access points include the Rt. 82 Dam (Brecksville) and Gorge Park (Cleveland Metroparks).
When to Fish Cuyahoga River for Steelhead
The Cuyahoga River fishes best when stream flow is 250-350 cfs. The USGS Cuyahoga River stream gauge at Independence, OH provides real-time stream flow data and is a good indicator of river conditions. Bear in the mind the Cuyahoga River is large river and may take a week or more to clear and return to normal flows following a rain event.
Ideal Flow (cfs)
Average Run-off Time
1 week or more
Best Flies for Cuyahoga River
Effective flies for catching steelhead in the Cuyahoga River include basic egg, nymph and streamer patterns. Don't obsess too much over your choice on fly but be prepared to rotate through a few different flies until you find one that works.
If you like to swing flies, RiverBum offers a great selection of classic steelhead flies that will catch fish anywhere. Set includes 30 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and durable fly box.
If you prefer to dead drift flies, BASSDASH offers a great selection of some of the most effective egg flies and attractor patterns. Set includes 57 flies (see list below) and high-grade double-sided fly box.
Heading out to do some steelhead or salmon fishing and need an affordable fly rod, reel and line to get started?
Look no further than the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit. An 8 Wt. setup that is perfect as a first big-game outfit or backup travel rod.
Visit our DIY Steelhead Alley Fishing Guide for maps and more information on other Lake Erie tributaries that steelhead like to visit.