You can fish for trout on the fly without leaving a Columbus Metro Park, though you will have to leave Columbus. But no worries, Clear Creek Metro Park is just 40 minutes southeast of the city and has 6 miles of easy creek access. The creek is stocked with rainbow trout every November, which generally hold over until May. Even if the fish aren’t biting, you’ll find yourself in a beautiful, hemlock-lined valley with sandstone rock outcroppings and a dozen miles of hiking trails.
Leave the central Ohio flatlands behind and access the park on Clear Creek Road, just off of U.S. 33. Drive into the park and past Leaning Lena, a photo-ready slump block hanging over the road. Just past Leaning Lena, look to your left for the first of 10 official fishing-access pullouts, marked with signs and just steps from the water (drive past the first few pullouts so you aren’t sharing a hole with several other anglers).
It’s hard to go wrong in Clear Creek. It’s full of riffles, pools and shade. In some sections, where hemlock trees and rhododendron shrubs hug the bank, you’ll think for a minute that you’re in West Virginia. The creek is shallow and pretty easy to wade, so you can go from pool to pool looking for your quarry.
Try casting with nymph and mop flies, and if you catch anything 12 inches or longer, you can keep it—there is a catch limit of two per day. This is a stocked “put and take” creek, and while most rainbows are in the 12-inch range, some anglers have reported rainbows as large as 18 to 20 inches.
The park is also home to two lakes you can fish, both of which have panfish like bluegill. Lake Ramona is just a few steps from your vehicle. Opened to public access in 2021, Lake Emily is a 1-mile uphill hike from the parking lot by the park office. The payoff? Bigger bass and bluegill that are biting more than the fish in either Clear Creek or Lake Ramona.
Added bonus: Clear Creek Metro Park has more than 12 miles of trails, which take you by the creek, through meadows and up to the ridgetops. Try the Creekside Meadows Trail to the Cemetery Ridge Trail—in May you’ll enjoy plentiful spring wildflowers, including the uncommon and showy yellow lady’s slipper.
More Info: metroparks.net
Getting There: Shoot down U.S. 33 east for 40 minutes to Clear Creek Road.
Refuel: Ale House 1890 in Lancaster sources some of its meat and produce locally; ask about the daily special. Stay for the craft beer, wine, and cocktails.