Fisheries and Target Species

NE Ohio and the surrounding area boasts one of the world’s top fisheries, with an abundance of species that can be targeted throughout the year.

Our Fisheries

Whether you are looking for private water access, or a float trip to remember, the tributaries of Lake Erie play host to one of the world’s most abundant freshwater fisheries. Over the past few decades, our small corner of the world has become renowned for steelhead fishing, but the action extends well beyond the annual steelhead runs. Smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskie, walleye, and more all call our waters home.

Each year our ORVIS-endorsed guides help anglers reel in firsts, personal bests, and trophies along the tributaries listed below. To help keep our fish populations strong and the fisheries healthy we emphasize a catch, photo, and release policy with most species.

Conneaut Creek

Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge is where fly-fishing afficionados turn to when they are looking for a steelhead fishing adventure on Conneaut Creek.

Chagrin River

Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge has some of the most qualified and highly skilled fishing guides in sport fishing.

Elk Creek

When guests visit Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge, they quickly discover that they are onto something big! They get a fishing guide who knows his way around Elk Creek…

Grand River

A fishing guide from Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge is worth his weight in gold! We are renowned for having extraordinarily qualified fishing guides who can make…

Steelhead

Steelhead are a large, migratory rainbow trout. They are not native to Ohio’s waterways, but were placed here for angling opportunities by Ohio’s fisheries programs years ago. Here in Northern Ohio, we are blessed to have many tributaries of Lake Erie which receive annual “runs” of steelhead trout. In the summer months the steelhead can be found deep in the lake. Much like salmon, steelhead swim up stream into the the rivers and to make their annual spawning pilgrimage. However, unlike salmon, steelhead do not die once they have reproduced, they can make several spawning journeys in their lifetime! Some Great Lakes steelhead make their way up stream in the fall, we call this time of year the “Fall Run”. Conversely, some make their way up to spawn in late winter into early spring, “Spring Run.”

Steelhead present an incredible opportunity on the fly, and anglers travel from all over the world to experience the hard fighting, acrobatic battles with these “chromers.”

We are proudly situated smack dab in the middle of an area of the country known as “Steelhead Alley” for the great runs of fish our tributaries receive annually.

WHEN AND HOW WE TARGET STEELHEAD

Steelhead can be found cruising the beaches and creek mouths beginning as early as September. Great surf casting opportunities exist from beaches, break walls and pier heads during the early fall! Fishable numbers are found in the rivers by early October.

There are two primary runs of Lake Erie Steelhead. Fall run (September-December) and Spring run (January-May). Fall and spring offer differing opportunities and programs but fantastic fishing exists all winter if the weather allows.

We offer both Float and Wade trips on all Lake Erie Tributaries. This includes Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

All skill levels are welcome! We take pride in our knowledge base of our local rivers and how Steelhead use them.

Our staff is well versed in all techniques used to pursue Steelhead and look forward to sharing our experience with you!

Two handed casting and swinging flies has long been a staple in our program. Ask about our “Spey Trips” and casting instruction.

Smallmouth Bass

Here in NE Ohio, we are truly blessed to have such an incredible native smallmouth bass fishery. Lake Erie boasts one of the healthiest trophy smallmouth bass fisheries in the world. Pound-for-pound smallmouth, sometimes called “smallies” or “bronzebacks”, are some of the hardest-fighting fish in freshwater and are extremely apt to eat a fly! This fun filled fish can be targeted in a variety of ways and vastly different areas, we break them down into two distinct categories; Lake Run and Resident.

Lake Run Smallmouth Fishing (April-June)

Living near Lake Erie, we get an amazing opportunity each spring to target trophy-sized smallmouth bass in Lake Erie’s bays, break walls and beaches, as well as its tributaries. Reaching sizes of trophy stature (20+ inches), these giant Lake Run smallies emerge from the depths of the lake and make their way into the shallows and up the rivers to spawn. This annual migratory behavior allows us as anglers to target these awesome sportfish year after year. We target our amazing lake-run smallmouth in two ways:

Shore Casting

Classic and timeless… Whether it be from a break wall, pier, or knee-deep in the waves, shore casting or surfcasting is a genuinely unique opportunity to target trophy smallmouth. Casting from our beautiful sand bluff beaches, historic lighthouse piers, and urban city skylines as backdrops you can hook into some of the best smallmouth action IN THE WORLD.

River Fishing

As these trophy-caliber smallmouth head up our rivers, we also follow their migratory trip upstream. Casting baitfish, crayfish, or topwater flies from both drift boat and from foot, lake-run smallmouth offer incredible fishing opportunities inland as well.

-Spring is a fantastic time to be on the water floating or wading the streams with our seasoned and knowledgeable guides targeting these hard-hitting and hard-fighting fish.

Resident Smallmouth Fishing (May-October)

Lake Erie’s tributaries, as well as other inland rivers, creeks and reservoirs, host stellar populations of smallmouth which stay inland year-round, thus why we call them residents. Fisheries toting both quality and quantity exist locally.

These beautiful, smart, and slow-growing fish are as sporting of a quarry as they come. One of the most fun fish to catch on the fly, resident smallmouth presents some amazing topwater opportunities. Known for their hard, drag-peeling fights and numerous leaps, inland bronzebacks earn their stripes as “the most sporting fish in North America.”

Northern Pike

Native to most of Ohio, Northern Pike are one of our favorite species to chase. Providing year-round opportunities and thrilling action, these slender sleek and speedy fish earn their place as an incredible sportfish in our book!

All skill levels of anglers will enjoy fishing for pike! Inhabiting many different types of water, anglers will hone their skills with a variety of different techniques. Casting accuracy and fly control are keys to success while chasing these toothy rockets.

Targeting pike will step up your game and provide critical knowledge of predatory streamer fishing as well as improve your casting skills. This translates into becoming a better angler overall.

We fish for northern pike year-round. If the water is open, you will find us hunting for these incredibly fun and interesting fish.

Trophy opportunities exist even in winter. Trophy “northerns” exceeding the coveted 40-inch mark are landed each year! Come experience one of the best strikes that exist in freshwater!

Muskellunge

Often referred to as “the fish of ten thousand casts” , muskies are the most dominant predators in freshwater; a bucket list fish, and an extremely attainable goal for the determined fly angler. You truly work hard for every musky you catch, but each fish leaves you with a memory that will last a lifetime. Ohio boasts world class populations of both quality and quantity in our lakes and rivers.

We pursue muskie every month of the year if the conditions allow.

Largemouth Bass

Bass are an excellent game fish and provide explosive action on our Ohio waters. Whether it be throwing small cork poppers on light gear in ponds or rivers, or chucking giant streamers for trophy Ohio bass in lakes, fishing for bass is a ton of fun.

Our team knows the ins and outs of our local fish, so whether you are searching for quantity of fish or quality of fish, we have options for you. There are many great bass fisheries very close to home and we offer both Float/Boat and Walk/Wade trips from April through October.

Walleye

Lake Erie and walleye fishing go together like peanut butter and jelly. The two are synonyms. Covered Bridge Outfitters & Lodge can guide you on a walleye outing out of Conneaut Harbor, just 10 minutes from our lodge.

Our lodge has multiple Coast Guard Charter Boat Captains to guide your adventure. Walleye fishing on Lake Erie begins in mid-March, is active all summer, and peaks with the largest fish being caught up to the end of November.

Walleye can be caught on open water from ice-out in March all the way to freeze-up in the early Winter. Throughout the open water season, various tactics are used to target walleye. Early season involves VERY slow trolling.

In the Spring and Summer, walleye can be caught suspended or fishing the bottom. In late Fall/Early Winter, the fish move extremely shallow and are most commonly caught on jerkbaits.

 

The Southern shorelines of Lake Erie are littered with walleye captains and charters. One opportunity that Covered Bridge Outfitters offers is the ability to catch Lake Erie walleye on the fly! Yup, our team of guides have spent days upon days on Lake Erie learning how to present a fly to a walleye in every fishable depth. Sound unique? It is!

As an outfitter, we strongly enforce CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) on all species of fish…EXCEPT for walleye. We recognize the health and population of walleye in Lake Erie and accommodate the harvest of legal-size walleye caught on Lake Erie.

After the outing, our guides filet and package your fish on your behalf. In addition, our chef can prepare a spectacular walleye dinner for your group the very evening of the outing.

Walleye trips with CBO are $550 for 1-2 anglers – Additional anglers can be added at $100 per person with a maximum of 4 on the reservation.

Other Freshwater Species

Carp

Gaining in popularity among the fly fishing community, carp provide some exciting rod bending opportunities during the dog days of summer.

Growing to immense sizes and incredibly keen, sight fishing to common carp require tact and stealth, making for a challenging and rewarding quarry on the fly. Carp can be found in most waterways in Ohio lake or stream. These fish fight hard and it is not uncommon to see your backing when playing a carp of even average size. We offer both and float and wade fish for carp from May until October, with some of the best action in the heat of the summer.

Bluegill/Panfish

Time honored and dripping with tradition. Bluegill and other sunfishes tend to be most anglers first catch on the fly rod. These fish are tons of fun for first time fly fishers and experts alike!

Bluegill will rise to a dry fly on the surface and make for a great visual experience for new anglers or children. They fight tremendously hard for their size so when caught on light tackle fly set ups, the fun is smile inducing for all ages! We fish for panfish in Ohio’s ponds as long as they are not ice covered with peak season running from May through October.

Freshwater Drum

Often overlooked and wildly misunderstood, the Freshwater Drum, or “sheephead” are close relatives to redfish and the black drum, which are regarded as some of the most sought after fish to catch with a fly. Quick to eat a crustacean fly, much like their saltwater cousins, the freshwater drum are a treat to target on the flyrod.

We fish for them along Lake Erie’s shoreline, casting from piers and wading sandy beaches from May until September. Reaching sizes of over 30 inches and capable of hard fighting, long, drag pulling runs, the sheephead should be on every anglers’ summer plans.

Whether you are looking for private water access, or a float trip to remember, the tributaries of Lake Erie play host to one of the world’s most abundant freshwater fisheries. Over the past few decades, our small corner of the world has become renowned for steelhead fishing, but the action extends well beyond the annual steelhead runs. Smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskie, walleye, and more all call our waters home.

Each year our ORVIS-endorsed guides help anglers reel in firsts, personal bests, and trophies along the tributaries listed below. To help keep our fish populations strong and the fisheries healthy we emphasize a catch, photo, and release policy with most species.

Conneaut Creek

Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge is where fly-fishing afficionados turn to when they are looking for a steelhead fishing adventure on Conneaut Creek.

Read More

 

 

Chagrin River

Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge has some of the most qualified and highly skilled fishing guides in sport fishing.

Read More

 

 

Elk Creek

When guests visit Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge, they quickly discover that they are onto something big! They get a fishing guide who knows his way around Elk Creek…

Read More

 

 

Grand River

A fishing guide from Covered Bridge Outfitters and Lodge is worth his weight in gold! We are renowned for having extraordinarily qualified fishing guides who can make…

Read More

Steelhead are a large, migratory rainbow trout. They are not native to Ohio’s waterways, but were placed here for angling opportunities by Ohio’s fisheries programs years ago. Here in Northern Ohio, we are blessed to have many tributaries of Lake Erie which receive annual “runs” of steelhead trout. In the summer months the steelhead can be found deep in the lake. Much like salmon, steelhead swim up stream into the the rivers and to make their annual spawning pilgrimage. However, unlike salmon, steelhead do not die once they have reproduced, they can make several spawning journeys in their lifetime! Some Great Lakes steelhead make their way up stream in the fall, we call this time of year the “Fall Run”. Conversely, some make their way up to spawn in late winter into early spring, “Spring Run.”

Steelhead present an incredible opportunity on the fly, and anglers travel from all over the world to experience the hard fighting, acrobatic battles with these “chromers.”

We are proudly situated smack dab in the middle of an area of the country known as “Steelhead Alley” for the great runs of fish our tributaries receive annually.

WHEN AND HOW WE TARGET STEELHEAD

Steelhead can be found cruising the beaches and creek mouths beginning as early as September. Great surf casting opportunities exist from beaches, break walls and pier heads during the early fall! Fishable numbers are found in the rivers by early October.

There are two primary runs of Lake Erie Steelhead. Fall run (September-December) and Spring run (January-May). Fall and spring offer differing opportunities and programs but fantastic fishing exists all winter if the weather allows.

We offer both Float and Wade trips on all Lake Erie Tributaries. This includes Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

All skill levels are welcome! We take pride in our knowledge base of our local rivers and how Steelhead use them.

Our staff is well versed in all techniques used to pursue Steelhead and look forward to sharing our experience with you!

Two handed casting and swinging flies has long been a staple in our program. Ask about our “Spey Trips” and casting instruction.

Native to most of Ohio, Northern Pike are one of our favorite species to chase. Providing year-round opportunities and thrilling action, these slender sleek and speedy fish earn their place as an incredible sportfish in our book!

All skill levels of anglers will enjoy fishing for pike! Inhabiting many different types of water, anglers will hone their skills with a variety of different techniques. Casting accuracy and fly control are keys to success while chasing these toothy rockets.

Targeting pike will step up your game and provide critical knowledge of predatory streamer fishing as well as improve your casting skills. This translates into becoming a better angler overall.

We fish for northern pike year-round. If the water is open, you will find us hunting for these incredibly fun and interesting fish.

Trophy opportunities exist even in winter. Trophy “northerns” exceeding the coveted 40-inch mark are landed each year! Come experience one of the best strikes that exist in freshwater!

  • Pike fishing is also a great fall back and should always be considered when thinking about cancelling a steelhead trip due to high water on the Lake Erie tributaries.
  • Planning a saltwater trip? Let us get you in the boat throwing pike flies for a day to brush up your saltwater game!

 

Often referred to as “the fish of ten thousand casts” , muskies are the most dominant predators in freshwater; a bucket list fish, and an extremely attainable goal for the determined fly angler. You truly work hard for every musky you catch, but each fish leaves you with a memory that will last a lifetime. Ohio boasts world class populations of both quality and quantity in our lakes and rivers.

We pursue muskie every month of the year if the conditions allow.

  • Prime time is May through October, but some of the best fishing occurs in winter and even in terrible weather.
  • A true achievement, musky on the fly is an experience of a lifetime.
  • Our team is deeply passionate about our resource and would love to give you the opportunity to go head-to-head with the most aggressive freshwater fish in North America.

 

Bass are an excellent game fish and provide explosive action on our Ohio waters. Whether it be throwing small cork poppers on light gear in ponds or rivers, or chucking giant streamers for trophy Ohio bass in lakes, fishing for bass is a ton of fun.

Our team knows the ins and outs of our local fish, so whether you are searching for quantity of fish or quality of fish, we have options for you. There are many great bass fisheries very close to home and we offer both Float/Boat and Walk/Wade trips from April through October.

Here in NE Ohio, we are truly blessed to have such an incredible native smallmouth bass fishery. Lake Erie boasts one of the healthiest trophy smallmouth bass fisheries in the world. Pound-for-pound smallmouth, sometimes called “smallies” or “bronzebacks”, are some of the hardest-fighting fish in freshwater and are extremely apt to eat a fly! This fun filled fish can be targeted in a variety of ways and vastly different areas, we break them down into two distinct categories; Lake Run and Resident.

Lake Run Smallmouth Fishing (April-June)

Living near Lake Erie, we get an amazing opportunity each spring to target trophy-sized smallmouth bass in Lake Erie’s bays, break walls and beaches, as well as its tributaries. Reaching sizes of trophy stature (20+ inches), these giant Lake Run smallies emerge from the depths of the lake and make their way into the shallows and up the rivers to spawn. This annual migratory behavior allows us as anglers to target these awesome sportfish year after year. We target our amazing lake-run smallmouth in two ways:

Shore Casting

Classic and timeless… Whether it be from a break wall, pier, or knee-deep in the waves, shore casting or surfcasting is a genuinely unique opportunity to target trophy smallmouth. Casting from our beautiful sand bluff beaches, historic lighthouse piers, and urban city skylines as backdrops you can hook into some of the best smallmouth action IN THE WORLD.

River Fishing

As these trophy-caliber smallmouth head up our rivers, we also follow their migratory trip upstream. Casting baitfish, crayfish, or topwater flies from both drift boat and from foot, lake-run smallmouth offer incredible fishing opportunities inland as well.

-Spring is a fantastic time to be on the water floating or wading the streams with our seasoned and knowledgeable guides targeting these hard-hitting and hard-fighting fish.

Resident Smallmouth Fishing (May-October)

Lake Erie’s tributaries, as well as other inland rivers, creeks and reservoirs, host stellar populations of smallmouth which stay inland year-round, thus why we call them residents. Fisheries toting both quality and quantity exist locally.

These beautiful, smart, and slow-growing fish are as sporting of a quarry as they come. One of the most fun fish to catch on the fly, resident smallmouth presents some amazing topwater opportunities. Known for their hard, drag-peeling fights and numerous leaps, inland bronzebacks earn their stripes as “the most sporting fish in North America.”

 

Lake Erie and walleye fishing go together like peanut butter and jelly. The two are synonyms. Covered Bridge Outfitters & Lodge can guide you on a walleye outing out of Conneaut Harbor, just 10 minutes from our lodge.

Our lodge has multiple Coast Guard Charter Boat Captains to guide your adventure. Walleye fishing on Lake Erie begins in mid-March, is active all summer, and peaks with the largest fish being caught up to the end of November.

Walleye can be caught on open water from ice-out in March all the way to freeze-up in the early Winter. Throughout the open water season, various tactics are used to target walleye. Early season involves VERY slow trolling.

In the Spring and Summer, walleye can be caught suspended or fishing the bottom. In late Fall/Early Winter, the fish move extremely shallow and are most commonly caught on jerkbaits.

The Southern shorelines of Lake Erie are littered with walleye captains and charters. One opportunity that Covered Bridge Outfitters offers is the ability to catch Lake Erie walleye on the fly! Yup, our team of guides have spent days upon days on Lake Erie learning how to present a fly to a walleye in every fishable depth. Sound unique? It is!

As an outfitter, we strongly enforce CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) on all species of fish…EXCEPT for walleye. We recognize the health and population of walleye in Lake Erie and accommodate the harvest of legal-size walleye caught on Lake Erie.

After the outing, our guides filet and package your fish on your behalf. In addition, our chef can prepare a spectacular walleye dinner for your group the very evening of the outing.

Walleye trips with CBO are $550 for 1-2 anglers – Additional anglers can be added at $100 per person with a maximum of 4 on the reservation.

 

Carp

Gaining in popularity among the fly fishing community, carp provide some exciting rod bending opportunities during the dog days of summer.

Growing to immense sizes and incredibly keen, sight fishing to common carp require tact and stealth, making for a challenging and rewarding quarry on the fly. Carp can be found in most waterways in Ohio lake or stream. These fish fight hard and it is not uncommon to see your backing when playing a carp of even average size. We offer both and float and wade fish for carp from May until October, with some of the best action in the heat of the summer.

Bluegill/Panfish

Time honored and dripping with tradition. Bluegill and other sunfishes tend to be most anglers first catch on the fly rod. These fish are tons of fun for first time fly fishers and experts alike!

Bluegill will rise to a dry fly on the surface and make for a great visual experience for new anglers or children. They fight tremendously hard for their size so when caught on light tackle fly set ups, the fun is smile inducing for all ages! We fish for panfish in Ohio’s ponds as long as they are not ice covered with peak season running from May through October.

Freshwater Drum

Often overlooked and wildly misunderstood, the Freshwater Drum, or “sheephead” are close relatives to redfish and the black drum, which are regarded as some of the most sought after fish to catch with a fly. Quick to eat a crustacean fly, much like their saltwater cousins, the freshwater drum are a treat to target on the flyrod.

We fish for them along Lake Erie’s shoreline, casting from piers and wading sandy beaches from May until September. Reaching sizes of over 30 inches and capable of hard fighting, long, drag pulling runs, the sheephead should be on every anglers’ summer plans.

 

Join the CBO Team For The Fly-Fishing Trip Of A Lifetime