Fishing Reports
March 28th, 2015
Scott Smith, March 28, 2015

Fish soon!

The Mile Creeks, Elk and Walnut are fishable now. However, the water temperatures are low and the fish are lethargic. The sun will warm these tribs quickly and fishing will improve as each hour passes. The fish are spread out and there are large sections of each river without many fish. However, they are there. So, keep moving!

The Vermillion, Rocky, Chagrin and Conneaut will be fishable this afternoon. The water clarity is currently 12-18” on the upper Chagrin and improving rapidly. The feeder creeks are running clear so expect rapid improvement in the fishing conditions. Again, water temperatures are low (mid to high 30’s) and there is shelf and skim ice on the smaller tribs. These water temperatures will increase dramatically with the bright skies and warmer air temperatures and fish numbers will improve exponentially this week. Again, if you are not catching fish, keep moving. The pods are scattered and there are many sections of each river without large numbers of fish.

There are definitely hold over and some new fish throughout each system. The numbers are not great and as usual, the first run includes the smaller jacks. These fish are eager to take a fly and really fun to catch. They are great slump busters and a sure sign that bigger are on their way!

Look for good fishing and conditions through Thursday of this week with each day being better than the previous.

With the warmer temperatures and warm rain predicted this Thursday and Friday, we should see a nice push of fresh fish by the end of next week. However, there are definitely fishable numbers now and who knows what next weeks’ rain will do to the river conditions or how long the high water will last.

Catch them early and often and enjoy the best week of the spring season so far!

PS-the Clear Fork, Mad River and Apple Creek will also heat up this week. The Northerns should start to show at Presque Isle and both the migratory and non-migratory fish in Michigan and Pennsylvania should start in earnest. Also, watch for the Hendrickson’s to start by the middle part of April. This is one of the best hatches of the season!


Current Stream Conditions
Scott Smith , March 26, 2015

March 25th, 2015
Scott Smith , March 26, 2015

The Facts.

Personally, I am tired of hyperbole, speculation and hearsay. They give fly fishing a bad reputation.

I write these reports based on personal knowledge. I fish because I love to fish. I write these reports because I want to share my love of fishing.

I love the Fabbro family but I am not a commissioned sales guy. The people at the Backpackers Shop are unique - we care!

I love the Backpackers Shop and truly believe it is one of the best shops in northern Ohio. I have shopped there for twenty years and I believe in Reece, Tom, Erika and the entire staff. This is not a bullshit place. I hate those places. Believe me, Reece and Tom watch every nail knot I tie and I respect that. Frankly, they are incredibly knowledgeable and talented and they own the place. Frankly, I really do not care that they own the place. However, I do care that they care and that means everything!

I am fairly sure that fifty years and three generations are smarter and better equipped than my 40 years of self-taught fly fishing. I can do the math. Regardless, come see us in the fly shop. Between us, we can help you catch more fish!

Henry James wrote a great line: “I do not want everyone to like me, I should think less of myself if some people did.” I agree with that!

Accordingly, let’s deal with the facts.

The great fishing commences on Good Friday and ends May 1. History does repeat itself and does give or take a couple days, those are the facts.

So, we have thirty days of awesome spring fishing. Ten days will be unfishable due to high water. Ten days will be unfishable because the water is low and clear. Ten days will be perfect. You can catch fish somewhere and somehow every day for the next thirty days. Those are the facts.

Then, Turkey season opens, Michigan and Pennsylvania go trout crazy in May and June and then you should either go chase the salt and Tarpon in Fla or the awesome trout out west. Dealers choice-they are both awesome. Choose one or do both! I like both.

Regardless, please allow us to help outfit you.

Personally, I love moving freshwater. I hate engines, noise, gasoline and salt. However, my favorite fish of all times was a 35 lb. tarpon on a purple 6 inch pattern in the mangroves after a 45 minute boat ride. I hooked six and caught one. Go figure. Maybe I should not work in a fly shop after all….and, maybe that is why they check my nail knots….who knows?

Regardless, here are the facts. The coldest February in the last 100 years has delayed the silver bullets. It’s that simple. They are coming but they are not here yet. The water temperature is 38 degrees. Maybe the rain will bring them in; maybe not.

I will personally be on the water and fishing all day tomorrow and through the weekend. I will tell you what I personally find - no BS.

March 22nd, 2015
Scott Smith , March 22, 2015

The water conditions were excellent on a good number of our rivers and creeks today.

Unfortunately, the lights were on and nobody was home.

There are very few fish in the river systems. If you are going to fish, go high for the hold over fish or go low for the surging fish. Fish late and fish early as these early explorers like to come in for the night shift and head back to the lake in the morning.

Stay tuned. They are coming soon! A little warm rain and a sixty degree day and they will charge up river in force.

In the meantime, the Clear Fork and Mad River are fishing well. They are unbelievable fisheries.

So many choices; so little time!

March 20th, 2015
Scott Smith , March 19, 2015

Go Fishing!

I was on the Chagrin and Grand today. The Chagrin was fishable above Gates Mills. I found some fish but not in good numbers. However, there were fish in the feeder creeks to the Chagrin and even a pair on the gravel. The Chagrin should fish well by Saturday and hopefully the numbers will improve each day.

The Grand was nowhere close to being fishable. It may fish by next Thursday as long as we do not get much rain. However, the tribs to the Grand are in fishable shape and holding okay numbers of fish. These fish are escaping the big river and finding shelter in the tribs where the water conditions and temperatures are more favorable. Again, I found a pair of fish on the gravel on one of the tribs. They were slow and lethargic, but there they were.

The Rocky, Ashtabula, Elk, Walnut and Mile Creeks should fish well starting today (Friday). The Eastern tribs are still on the cold side due to the extensive snow pack so fish low and slow.

The Conneaut should fish by Saturday.

There are definitely new fish in all the rivers and they are responding to egg patterns, stone flies, wooly buggers and Lite Brite Caddis. A couple more degrees in the water temps and the swinging game and conditions should intersect perfectly.

There is not a major push of fish anywhere. The big runs will not begin in earnest until the river water temperatures heat up another 5-10 degrees. This warmer river water flowing into the cooler lake encourages the migration. It is the combination of temperature differential and flow that bring in the mother load. Interestingly, the sun will warm the river water quickly and the lake will stay cooler due to extensive ice coverage. And, without the major ice dams that we had last year, look for a steady parade of these beautiful chrome fish starting now and lasting into May!

Carpe Diem!

March 15th, 2015
Scott Smith , March 16, 2015

First, the Fly Fishing Film Tour was a great success.  Thank you for your support!   

Second, the ice dams have blown out! What a show! Ice dams for miles on March 13 and then they were gone. There is no doubt that the ice cutters that helped break up the ice at the mouths of our tributaries accelerated the blow out, helped prevent a lot of flooding, and was a huge help to our fisheries. Additionally, the fish now have free access to all of our tribs and will start their Spring migration later this week.    


Everything is blown out. It will take at least 3-5 days to have enough information to provide you with accurate reports.  Stay tuned. We will update this page as soon as we have solid information.  For the time being, finish your tying, clean your lines, buy the necessary terminal tackle and stand at the ready.  The time is near.


The Clear Fork is blown out in both the upper and lower sections. There have been some midges and black stone flies and the fish are looking up. Look for feeding fish later this week and arm yourself with midges, black stone flies, Hendricksons and size 16 pheasant tail nymphs. Do not forget your streamer box. The Clear has some pigs that love to chase big flies. And, if you want a chance at musky, now is the time. Throw the biggest, nastiest streamer you can find the first half mile below the dam and see what happens.

The Mad River is also blown out. However, this is an awesome fishery and a great early spring option. The Mad is an easy day trip and holds a lot of fish. Again, look some midge and stone fly activity followed by BWO’s and Hendrickson’s. There are great nymphing opportunities throughout this river and the streamer fishing can be awesome. Look for fishable water later this week.

The Trout Clubs are giving up fish on the surface, in the film and sub- surface. Midges, Griffith’s gnats, emergers, soft hackles, egg patterns and streamers will all catch fish. Go now!

Presque Isle is a very over looked fishery. As you know, this area is an incredible small mouth fishery in May and June.  However, if you want to catch some big northern pike on the fly, fish between one and two weeks after the bays clear of ice.  Tie on some and nasty streamer and give it a try. The pike love to cruise these shallows right after ice out and will eat anything in their way. The last week of March and the first week of April could be great. You just never know what is going to grab your fly in these waters.

The Michigan rivers are just starting to clear. There are certainly opportunities to catch trout and migratory fish throughout the state. The West side has some awesome steel head fishing for the next couple of months. If you can wait a week or two, your success rate will improve. The East side currently has some great streamer and nymphing opportunities. However, watch the gauges and plan accordingly. Also, the Hendrickson hatch is the most dependable hatch of the season.  This is a great bug, the fish love them, it’s a big enough meal to get the big fish looking up, they hatch during daylight hours and they will start to show up as soon as April 15. Look for a cold, over cast, nasty day where the bugs cannot get off the water and you will have one of the best dry fly days of your life.

This is a great time of year and the anticipation is killing us!  Stay tuned.       

Chagrin River Ice
Scott Smith, March 14, 2015

If you are interested to know what the Chagrin River currently looks like...


March, 6th 2015
Scott Smith, March 07, 2015


Forget the New Year’s resolution and gain some weight!

Finally, the seas are parting and there is some open water.  Go catch a few hold over fish.  Even better, the warmer weather will blow out the tribs over the next two weeks and the spring run will start!

Hopefully, this will be a slow and steady thaw that will allow the lower portions of the rivers, creeks and Lake Erie to clear and the upstream ice to escape without causing huge ice dams.  Regardless, the fish are coming soon!


A 10’ 7 weight with a 7 weight nymph/indicator line is a great choice.  Your terminal tackle should be 2, 3 or 4X fluorocarbon.  Great early season flies are Tungsten G6 Caddis #14, BH Psycho Prince Black #10, Lite Brite Caddis  #10’s, #12’s in chartreuse and pearl, pastel colored egg patterns in 12’s and 14’s and olive, black and white wooly buggers in 8’s and 10’s.

The early  fish will hide at the ends of the deeper runs, tail outs and dark slots.  If you are not hooking up, just add weight.  Use darker colored split shot and nothing larger in diameter than PSS BB. 


An 11’6” 7 weight with a Skagit or switch/adapt line is great fun.  Swing blue early, move to the pastels and finish the season with natural colored patterns.  Use the heaviest MOW tip the conditions allow and swing low.


It’s starting!

Catch fish this week at the Clear Fork, Mad River and Trout Clubs.  Use San Juan worms in #12’s, #14’s and #16’s, Copper Johns in #16’s and #18’s, Red Zebra Midges in #20’s, #22’s, Pheasant Tails in #20’s, #22’s, Black Copper Johns in #16’s, #18’s and always have a pastel colored #14 egg pattern handy.

Streamers: Tie on a #8 or #10 wooly bugger and #16 soft hackle and have fun.  If you are looking to move some big fish, try Kelly Gallop’s Sex Dungeon, a Zoo Cougar or a big ugly sculpin pattern.

Dry Flies:

The warm sun will bring out some bug life! Look for midges, stone flies and Hendrickson emergers.  Fish a Hendrickson emerger #14, Griffith’s Gnat #20, #22, CDC Emerging Midge #18, #20 or #22 or CDC Midge #20, #22 on top with Black or red Mojo Midge size 20 or 22 as a dropper.  Catching trout on dry flies in March is so fun!

March 1st, 2015
Scott Smith, February 28, 2015

Buy a 2015 fishing license before your next fishing trip! Your old license expires Saturday.

Get out and fish Sunday through Wednesday! With a significant increase in air and water temperatures, those frozen and lethargic hold over fish will wake up and chase a fly!

These winter windows of warmer temperatures are awesome. There are very few anglers, the fish have not been pressured, and they are willing to play. Plus, in all likelihood, your favorite sections of river are frozen over so you are forced to explore new water.

There is open water and fishable numbers of steelhead in the Upper Rocky, Grand and Cuyahoga. Try them all.

However, a well-kept secret for steelhead fishing is the Cuyahoga River. Yes, that once burning river gets a beautiful run of steelhead. And, although many fish stop at Route 52, some travel all the way to Akron. For now, focus on the access points downstream of 52 and be amazed.

Finally, please remember the Fly Fishing Film Tour is at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on March 6th at 7:00pm. Tickets are $15 and available for puchase here at The Backpackers Shop. There aren't many left so pick yours up soon!

Anyway, it has been a long and cold February. Go catch a few fish then stop by the shop. The fire will be roaring so stay a while. 

New Mexico Trout Fishing
Thomas Fabbro, October 01, 2012

The last trout fishing trip of the season was a very successful one to Northern New Mexico. In five days, we fished the San Juan, Cimmaron, and a phenomenal little creek in the Valle Vidal region called Rio Costilla.

The San Juan was a little less crowded in September than the busy season and the fishing was amazing as usual. We spent the majority of the days we were there fishing little Midge dries and baetis on 7x tippet and managed to land some huge fish. We found rising fish along the banks and in the flats throughout the whole day which was nice because we could avoid the crowded areas of the river.

After the San Juan, we drove over to the Cimmaron and fished in the National Forest area. The Cimmaron is a small, brush-choked creek that I soon found was very difficult to fish with an 8 1/2 foot rod. Nevertheless, we landed some pretty nice fish on hopper-dropper rigs and buggers.

Finally, we drove up to Costilla and spent the last day before our elk hunt fishing for little cut throat and rainbow trout in Rio Costilla Creek. It was a warm windy day and the hopper fishing was phenomenal. We walked three or four miles of the creek fishing hoppers and beetles in the little pockets and riffles. Between the two of us, we caught over 100 trout on dries, all in the 8-14 inch range.

For any western trout fishermen looking for a unique experience, Northern New Mexico has some great rivers to offer. For anyone seeking advice on New Mexico trout fishing, feel free to call the shop or stop in and ask for Tom or Reece.

Musky on a Fly
Thomas Fabbro, September 14, 2012

Tom Fabbro lands musky on a fly!

After a long day of great fishing, and many huge bass... Tom caught his first musky (45") on Lake Saint Claire sight fishing in shallow water. The video below shows part of the fight.

What an awesome day of fishing with Captain Brian Mezaros. Great guy and awesome fishing guide! His link is below if you're interested in contacting him for a trip... only a few hours away. He is a Backpackers Fly Shop top pick!

Great Lakes Fly Fishing Link  



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