Trout Drought? Join the Club…

Weeping willows at the club...just another thing that adds to the beauty.
Weeping willows at the club…just another thing that adds to the beauty.

Gabe and I live in Cleveland, OH. It is essentially a desert from the months of June through October (or later) when it comes to trout fishing. Realistically, we only have a spring and fall run of Steelhead trout. It’s also pretty rare to find any other species of trout in our local river. Every once in a while you will happen across rainbow, brook, or brown trout. But this is not the case very often. I have even heard rumors of people catching Chinook and Coho salmon. This is mostly because our rivers and lakes are annually stocked to maintain our populations. Manistee Steelhead are regularly dropped in the Vermillion, Rocky, Chagrin, Grand, and Conneaut rivers throughout the year. These other species are just a natural bonus.

So, we go through a summer trout drought. This is the reason we both learned to tie flies. We needed to fill the time and all we could think about was fishing. We would spend Friday and Saturday nights drinking beers and trying to learn new patterns. We would fiddle with our gear and scan Instagram for pictures of Pacific Northwest summer Steelhead fishing. This is also the point that Gabe started to actively find new species to fish. You may have noticed his posts about carp. I also invested in some kayaks to get out and target small mouth bass on the fly. This is fine and good but all I wanted was some light tackle trout fishing.

About an hour from Cleveland is Sandusky, OH known lovingly as “America’s Roller-Coast” due to the fact that Cedar Point resides here. This might literally be the world’s greatest amusement park. Having that at our back doorstep was great when we were kids. But, Sandusky holds another secret gem. This place ismore exciting to me that any roller-coaster.

Sunnybrook Trout Club is essentially a country club for anglers. I never knew something like this existed until a handful of years ago when my father became a member. For years he would ask me to make the short trip out with him for a day of fishing, food, and beers but I would never want to go. Don’t ask me why…because I don’t have a good answer. When I finally went last year I was mesmerized. My brother Erik and I have started to accompany him more regularly to the club. Fully stocked trout streams with brown, brook, cutty, and monster rainbow trout. A fully stocked lake with bass, perch, and muskie. A beautiful lodge with a full kitchen, all the beer you can drink, and a deck overlooking the grounds. This place is heaven. I had to join. My dad was thrilled that his son was now a member of his club. The three of us have given up our weekend golf outings in favor of a more noble pursuit.

My dad slaying some Rocky River steelhead!
My dad slaying some Rocky River steelhead!

I convinced Rachel to let me join this year. The owner of the club, Doug, was running a special for new members under the age of 35 so I got a discounted membership by the skin of my teeth. If I had to pay the full rate I’m not so sure Rachel would have been on board with the idea so easily. But, she loves our trips to the club. There is plenty for non-anglers to do on the grounds and it is never a hassle to convince her to make the trip. Now I spend my summers up at the club catching 15 – 20 fish on a regular basis. What kind of fishing are you in the mood for? Stripping in streamers? Drifting eggs? Throwing dry flies? This place can accommodate anything you want to do. The streams are immaculately manicured but still maintain a very natural feel. The upper and lower pond affords you opportunities to find those trophy fish.

This is the layout of the club...tons and tons of brooks and beauty.
This is the layout of the club…tons and tons of brooks and beauty.

Recently my brother was preparing for a trip to Montana where he would spend one afternoon on a drift boat chasing down browns and rainbow on Flathead River outside of Whitefish. His girlfriend Ashley agreed to this day trip even though she had never held a fly rod.  In preparation for this trip we spent an afternoon at the club getting her versed in the basics. She ended up landing 3 fish that day. I have never seen anyone more proud. I was proud. She was falling in love with the sport we already love. You can cast in your backyard for months on end and still not have the skills necessary to get out on a river. Being able to set and land fish is a HUGE part of the process that would be hard to learn to quickly anywhere else. This is why I love Sunnybrook.

Ash with her first ever landed rainbow!
Ash with her first ever landed rainbow!

I know people are going to argue that one of the greatest allures of the sport is how affordable it is. All you need is an inexpensive license and some gear and you can get out on a local river or lake. Some might say that this option is just too expensive. “I can’t afford to join a club like that”. I understand. But Sunnybrook does offer day passes for non-members to come and spend a day on their amazing grounds. Or, you could hunt me down and I will bring you as my guest for the day! Any excuse to make the trip…but you are buying the beers.

Flycasting school for beginners at Sunnybrook on a beautiful summer afternoon.
Flycasting school for beginners at Sunnybrook on a beautiful summer afternoon.

More about the club from their website:Sunnybrook

In 1999 Doug and Linda Lamb of Bay Village, Ohio purchased Sunnybrook Trout Club.  Since that time they have striven to make Sunnybrook a realistic fishing experience that rivals streams in the wild while preserving and maintaining its natural beauty.   Each year it gets better and better through improvements to the stream, property, and the lodge, affording Sunnybrook the reputation as one of the premier fishing destinations in Ohio.

Sunnybrook is comprised of 130 acres of farmland, meadows, woodlands and manicured lawns. The two miles of meandering stream affords members an ample expanse of fishing opportunities.  The club currently has 190 members and is looking to add to that number.

One half mile of Sunnybrook’s legendary Cold Creek has been designated as “blue ribbon” fishing.  Only dry fly fishing is permitted in this member’s only catch & release section.  Fishing pressure is limited to two per day, assuring that this section of stream remains as wild and natural as possible.

For family members who do not fish, the grounds offer a relaxing atmosphere for walking, bird watching, enjoying nature, kayaking or canoeing on the 10 acre pond, reading on the back deck, enjoying the wildflower garden along the side patio or socializing with friends on the front porch while rocking in one of our high back rocking chairs.

Sunnybrook Trout Club is located at the intersection of US Route 6 and Ohio Route 2 on the western city limits of Sandusky, Ohio.  Its central location places it in the heart of Northern Ohio’s vacation land.  Sunnybrook is a one hour drive from both Cleveland and Toledo and an hour and a half from Akron/Canton.


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