Cleveland Fishing

It’s hard to believe that fishing season is almost upon us with the winter temps we have been having the past few months, but it’s true! Last year we had excellent fishing in May thanks to the ice cover and stable lake conditions all winter and this year is setting up to be the same. Stansberry Sport Fishing will be guiding again from Whiskey Island Marina located near downtown Cleveland and in the heart of hot fishing throughout the season. Please contact me for trip info and rates as every trip is custom and we will work with any group, skill level, and budget to make your time on the water a safe and memorable experience. As Cleveland’s only Lake Erie fly fishing and light tackle guide service we take pride in taking advantage of all the unique fishing opportunities available right here in the heart of the Great Lakes.

Cleveland Fishing

Please reach out to us for more information 330-414-1765 or and have a great season.

For many anglers when they think of fly fishing the Great Lakes the tendency is to think about opportunities for steelhead and salmon. Fantastic opportunities for these fish are abundant and there are many to be caught, but that is only part of the story. Musky, Bass (White, Smallmouth, Rock, and Largemouth), Panfish, and numerous other warm water species fill the near shore reaches of Lake Erie and are available to fly anglers from boat and on foot. As a rule any fish that can be caught with conventional tackle can be caught with a fly rod, but the optimum depth is less than 15 feet of water with decent clarity. The fly rod brings subtlety to pressured or spooked fish in clear water and offers anglers a challenge when fighting even smaller gamefish. Also, flat out flies catch fish! There is no denying the effectiveness of a properly presented fly.


When selecting what fly rod an angler should choose a rod that matches the conditions they might face while on the water. In most situations on Lake Erie fly rods between 6-8weight and roughly 9 feet in length will be the preferred size. If I had to pick one size rod to have on Lake Erie it would be a 7wt. 9ft. fast action multi-piece fly rod from a reputable manufacture (a few of my favorites include Winston, Orvis, Echo, and Sage). Ironically this is the same set up many anglers already have to tackle steelhead on the local river systems. The most popular fly lines have a weight forward taper and are either floating or intermediate (slow) sinking and should suffice in a majority of fishing situations on Lake Erie. Reputable line manufactures include RIO, Scientific Anglers, and AirFlo. Tapered leaders between 6-9feet are normal and as a rule larger flies require shorter leaders, while a longer leader lender to a stealthier presentation for smaller flies in shallower water. Leaders should match the size and conditions anglers are faced with, but 12-6 breaking strength should handle most situations. Fly reels in most freshwater warm water situations are merely for line management. While purchasing a fly fishing outfit a fly reel should not take up a majority of an angler’s budget when considering a suitable option. Economically priced reels from Sage, Ross, Orvis, and Cabelas are great options and should be the least considered piece of equipment in your purchase. The last and maybe most crucial piece of equipment is a good pair of polarized sunglasses. A good pair of popularized lenses will help an angler spot fish, reduce eye fatigue, and guard your eyes from errant casts. Fly patterns made of natural fibers including rabbit and bucktail imitating local forage are safe bets and “matching the hatch” is key to angler success. For local patterns and knowledge two shops that come to mind are the Backpacker Shop at 5128 Colorado Ave, Sheffeild, Ohio (440) 934-5345 and Chagrin River Outfitters 100 N. Main St. (440)-247-7110. A lot of information is out there, but spending some time and a little money with a local fly shop is still the best way to hedge the learning curve especially for local fly patterns.


Locations/time of year

Fly fishing begins on Lake Erie once water temps reach 50 degrees typically at the end of April with consistent fishing continuing through October. The Islands of the western basin as well as many of the harbors and marinas across Erie’s southern shore will hold catchable populations of Black Bass throughout spring, summer, and fall and are easily accessible to the fly rodder. Pockets of Bluegills, Crappies, and rockbass inhabit the same areas and readily take a fly. Lesser targeted species such as Freshwater Drum, Carp, and white bass make excellent targets with the fly rod and are available throughout the season. Favorite fly rod hotspots include Headlands Beach to the East, Cleveland Harbor centrally located, and the Islands of the Western Basin. Experimentation in patterns and location are key to angler success and are part of the fun of fly fishing! Many anglers and even guides fly fish Lake Erie, but are the vast minority of anglers out there. If you own a fly rod and are only fishing for steelhead you are missing out and I personally hope to see more fly anglers on the water soon!


Anglers looking to try their luck fly fishing Lake Erie should contact Capt. Nate Stansberry (330-414-1765 or or visit for more information.

The fishing has been absolutely crazy for Smallmouth here on Lake Erie….(seriously we are talking HUGE numbers of fish).



The small and large mouth bass are going nuts on Lake Erie… most people really don’t think of that lake as a bass fishery, but the truth is it is one of the best in the world.

The Lake Erie/St. Clair watershed took two of the top five spots in Bassmaster’s 2013 lake ranking…

photo (2)

Fishing clear intermediate line and stripping streamers (big white/gold with a dark head) in 10-15 feet of gin clear water… It is wild to watch several fish at the same time rush a streamer next to the boat…

The time is now if you would like to go give me a call(330-414-1765) or reach me at for details.

-Capt. Nate