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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Above the bridge

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From the road the bridge looks new and modern but if you follow the faint path alongside the bridge to underneath you find the big support columns holding up the bridge are layed up out of old stones from the river and the bridge is very very old.
Under the bridge it is often possible to have a nice little fishing trip if you only have a spare hour just by fishing right here. Here at the bridge is a good riffle and behind each column the river has dug out a nice eddy. A few years ago a friend of mine caught a nice three and half pound smallie here on a small rapala before I even got a lure tied on. Between the first column and the bank is some slow water that never fails to give up some pumpkinseeds to my flyrod, in my mind the prettiest fish that swims.
Its appropriate that Stubb's Mill road crosses the river here on such an old bridge for the road is named after the mill built on the river here in 1802 and ran by Zimri Stubbs. The old stones of the bridge create a perfect nesting spot for swallows and they put on quite a show in early summer as they raise their young. The sleek swallows remind me of fighter planes as they swoop up and down the river catching bugs.
At the time Zimri ran the mill here this section of river was part of Mount's Station. Mount's Station was a huge block of land granted to William Mounts as part of the Virgina Military District. The Virginia Military District was created between the two Miami rivers to reward soldiers with land grants who had served in the revolutionary war.
Downstream of the bridge river road closely follows the river two miles downstream to South Lebanon. In the last few years this section of road has experienced the odd
phenomenon of "eagle jams" as cars stop to look at a bald eagle perching in the trees above the river. This is probably the best section of the entire Little Miami to see an eagle from the car as they are frequently seen here.
Above the riffle at the bridge is a long run leading up to a fine riffle to fish. Here on each side of the river are the first of the several gravel pits that line the river between here and the town of Morrow. On the right bank looking upstream the big sycamores are filled with huge nests of a great blue heron rookery. Their cries fill the air in late spring and early summer as the great birds come and go from their nests.
I'm allways filled with sadness when fishing here, knowing what amazing history was destroyed by these gravel pits. For here on the banks overlooking the river once stood a great serpent mound 1300 feet long built by the Fort Ancient Indians. This great mound was destroyed by the digging of the gravel pits. Just behind the pits
stands the new high school which was also built on the site of the Stubbs Earthworks, a large ceremonial center for the Hopewell Indians. This was also the site of "Woodhenge", a huge circle 240 feet in diameter that was outlined by hundreds of huge posts made out of tree trunks by the indians. A small creek named bigfoot run winds around the pits and across the school property before entering the hills. Here I have found reduction flakes from arrowhead making in the water of the creek.
On the ridge overlooking Stubb's Mills is a new subdivision. Luckily the builders of the subdivision let the experts examine the area after uncovering numerous relics.
It was discovered a large indian town once stood here. In the soil was found millions of reduction flakes made by flintknapping. Some of these flakes were from stones as far away as Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and even obsidian from Wyoming! I've read a theory that the Indians completely changed the surrounding woods here. Girdling unwanted trees with stone axes and keeping the undergrowth down with periodic fires, till the woods was full of just nut and mast bearing trees for food and the undergrowth all new growth that would attract game like deer. This whole section of river in prehistoric time must have actually seemed quite settled with open fields for growing corn, mounds and earthworks, houses and open parklike woods. I imagine the first settlers at Mount's Station must have turned over relics like bits of pottery with every furrow they plowed.
Above here the river is a long deep pool stretching for half a mile to the riffles below the mouth of Hall's Creek. I often imagine indians paddling canoes or swimming in the languid waters of this big pool next to their village. Around any wood in this pool is a good place to try for crappies and sunfish. I have encountered a few kentucky spotted bass here but not enough to come up with any sort of pattern.
At the head of this big pool begin the riffles of Hall's Creek. Hall's Creek enters the river from the left as you wade upstream amidst an outstanding series of riffles and runs in the river. This is one of those sections of river where you might expect to catch four or five different species of fish in a morning using something like a small hair jig or plastic grub. Right at the mouth of Hall's Creek the river makes a sharp turn and has dug a deep hole known locally as the whirlhole. Along the outside bend the current has eaten away at the bank forming a large cliff that swallows nest in.
Opposite the cliff in early spring marsh marigolds carpet the river bottom completely in yellow. One morning while walking down to the river I walked up on a young doe standing among the flowers, beams of sunlight streaming the sycamores. It was one of those perfect small momments you never forget.
The whirlhole often yields nice catfish. I'll never forget the big channel cat I caught here on a grub that had me thinking for a minute I'd hooked a record smallmouth. Softcraws or nightcrawlers can be very productive fished here. And the run leading down to the whirlhole often yields a nice bass or two to a jig sweeping down with the current.
Often while fishing here I'll search the rockbars thrown up by the river and up Hall's Creek itself for fossils. The whole of the Little Miami watershed is rich in fossils but a few years ago a cloudburst was centered here that dropped eight inches of rain in a few hours. This caused Hall's Creek and the other nearby creeks to blow out and exposed tons and tons of rock rich in fossils.
Actually the entire Little Miami watershed including tributaries like Todd's Fork and Ceasers Creek and Hall's Creek were cut by an even greater flood, the melting of the great glaciers at the end of the last ice age. The torrents of meltwater cut the steep valleys and layed down the gravel beds mined all along the river.
As the water cut the valleys of the Little Miami drainage it exposed the layers of rock formed in the Ordovician Age, about 500 million years ago. Then a great shallow sea covered this area and now I ofton find the fossils of cephalopods here at Halls Creek. Cephalopods were squidlike creatures that thrived in the ancient sea. Some types of cephalopods were the largest animals of the Orodovician world. Fossils have been found measuring over thirty feet in length and even ones of seven feet have been found close to here. Most fossils of cephalopods I find along the river are one to three inch sections of their segmented shells, but here at Halls Creek after the big storm I found a complete shell of a small cephalopod allmost eight inches in length. Trilobites, bryozoans, and brachiopods are also found in the rocks of the river valley.
My wife once remarked that while doing laundry she never had to look for other women's phone numbers and the like in my pockets but instead had to watch out for wierd things like rocks or pieces of bone. It seems I'm constantly picking up something while bumming around the river.
Here at Hall's Creek I've come a mile upstrean from Stubb's Mill and usually get out of the river here and hike back down the road to my truck at the old bridge. After all encountering Heron rookeries, Indian mounds, old pioneers, great floods and fossilized sea monsters along with occasional smallmouth bass makes for a pretty full morning.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some fishing snapshots...

Went on a few short fishing trips this week in the Little Miami. The prespawn smallmouth are now hitting well. No real giants but lots of decent ones on hair jigs and inline spinners. P1030795

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

tiny...

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The Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, one of my all time favorite birds. They buzz all around one of my favorite hiking trails, im hoping to find the nest but so far no luck. They build a tiny nest the size of a hummingbirds on limbs. In fact they are the smallest bird in North America next to the hummer but aren't little on personality coming close as the flit around hunting bugs and buzzing at me. The little guy in these pictures didn't seem to mind a bit, pretty much ignoring me as he went about his business.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A face only a mother could love...

Some trail cam photos of a flock of turkeys

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some trail cam videos

All from a camera overlooking a tractor path in my parents woods in Highland county...


a big doe

a pair of fox

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some squabbling turkeys



a racoon making tracks

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

A little fishing trip

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Went fishing for a bit at THE PLACE WHOSE NAME CANNOT BE SPOKEN. A wonderful 75 degrees after ice covering everything three weeks ago. Usually here the question is not will I catch fish but how big and how many. Today the answers were not very and alot. Most fish were around a half pound to a bit over a pound but hit a spinnerbait or a plastic worm often enough that I quicky lost track of the numbers.

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A pair of does slipped out of the woods and across the end of the pond. One doe snuck back to look at me before prancing off.

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The best fish of the day was clearly a big panfish that ate a six inch plastic worm.

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A typical great trip to THE PLACE WHOSE NAME CANNOT BE SPOKEN.

Sunday, April 4, 2010