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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Todds Fork and the railroad




If you fish much on Todds Fork you are bound to run unto the remains of one of the old railroad bridges spanning the river. Some you can see easily from the road but others like the two that carried the railroad across the great horseshoe downstream of Middleboro Road towards Roachester Oseola can only been seen by those willing to get off the beaten path.

The Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley Railroad ran from Morrow thru Wilmington, Washington Court House, Circleville, Zanesville and Trinway. The C&MV was incorporated in 1851, and was completed from Morrow to Zanesville by 1856. bankrupt only seven years later, the line reorganized into the Cincinnati & Zanesville. In 1870, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) took control over the C&MV, and extended the railroad to Trinway. In 1911, the C&MV consolidated into the Cleveland, Akron & Cincinnati Railroad (CA&C). In 1924, the Zanesville Division was absorbed by the PRR Cincinnati Division, which consolidated into the Pittsburgh, Ohio & Detroit Railroad one year later By 1968, the line had become the Morrow Branch, Zanesville Branch, and Twinway Branch of the Pennsylvania Central Columbus Division.
The line west of Wilmington was dismantled in 1976 when the southern end, the Little Miami railroad, part of the Pennsylvania's Cincinnati & Xenia Branch, Cincinnati Division, was abandoned. Unlike the Little Miami which was turned into a bike trail,
this road was simply abandoned and everything from old spikes and ties to these gorgeous old bridges abound. From what I can tell, and please correct me if I'm wrong, there were six of these big main bridges on the Fork,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Trail camera pics

Some does in a river bottom along the Little Miami...



Sunday, July 17, 2011

River fishing at night, fishpot ford


It's at least a mile walk down to the ford. With eighty plus percent humidity, the walk was long enough to have me wading directly into the river just to cool off as soon as I got there. The water at first felt shockingly cold, much colder than it actually was.

In the heat I struggled to catch some bait to fish with but managed to catch a sunfish that was really just a bit too big. I slipped a two ounce sinker on the line and tied a big 5/0 hook on the twenty pound line of the big baitcaster. Right above the ford a long hole goes completely out of sight upriver. Here I cast the big sunfish and walked down to the riffle below to smallmouth fish. I caught a few small bass, ignoring the big rod thinking nothing would hit it till dark. Suddenly the clicker began to sing. Racing up the bar I set the hook just before something big reached a huge pile of logs piled up in the tail of the pool on the opposite bank. The rod bent double but the fish still took line. I tightened the drag to the breaking point but the fish pulled line right into the logjam. Into the river I went but it was no use. When I waded over I found the line went way back into a hole in the logjam. I could stick the whole length of the 7 1/2 foot rod into the hole but could not reach my tangled line. It was hopeless. Next time I'll bring heavier tackle.


Wading out again, I gathered wood for the night and then bass fished till dark after rebaiting the big rod. Here the river twist thru a giant s curve and forms two big islands and a maze of channels and underwater gravel bars.




In the heat the fishing was slow and I was concentrating hard. So hard that I failed to notice a rather pretty but plump lady in a kayak till she had floated right up to me. Both the kayak and her bathing suit seemed a size or two too small for her and I just stood there in the water speechless till she smiled and said "theres a beaver right behind you". Turning around, sure enough not twenty feet away was a beaver swimming lazily downstream. In a minute or two both floated away downriver and I climbed out and rigged up for the nights fishing. Off came the jig I'd been using for bass and on went a slip sinker a swivel and a treble hook for the shallow waters of the channels screamed big carp to me. The evening came hot and still. Even the usual din of insect noise seemed muted and no frogs greeted the coming night with calls. The moon began to rise right after dark, full and bright, more provolone than it's usual swiss cheese, but as the night wore on it became the color of really good muenster cheese, more orange than yellow. With the rising moon came the carp. The were skittish and after each one things had to settle down for a while between bites but it was steady all night.



In the distance a screech owl called, not its normal call but one of its stranger ones, more like a giant tree frog. If I hadn't heard this call on a tape before I'd never know what it was. Then quiet. Real quiet except for the occasional sound of the baitcaster's clicker as another carp took the bait....

A look around...



There's a stretch of the fork that fishes especially well for spotted bass as well as smallmouth. River left looking upstream is bounded by a high cliff, in most places its covered in trees and bushes but you would need to rope up to feel anywhere near safe. But about a half mile up from the bridge I park at a creek has cut a narrow passage into the steep walls. On the topo map the creek seems to appear as two forks seemingly forming out of nowhere on flat farmland. The contour lines almost touching for a quarter mile above the fork. No rainwater would cut such a notch this has to be a product of torrents of melting glacier water raging at the end of the last ice age. Well it's one of those places a ginseng hunter files away in the back of his mind to check out one day. Friday was the day. Sure enough, wild ginger, goldenseal and maidenhair fern greeted me as soon as climbed up from the fork. Big trees, trees you couldn't reach around in most places covered the slopes. And they were beech and maple, things were looking good. Then I saw a nice three prong ginseng plant and then just beyond another. And then right out in the open a dozen plants. I finished my water bottle sitting beside that patch and then turned and left. This fall, with a lunch and a digger packed in my pack, I'll spend at least a day here learning this little hollow inside and out. It was a good start to my weekend.



Cowan Lake

We spent three days at Cowan lake campground with our two grandaughters. Also an assortment of parents, friends and aquaintances, but Brenda, me, and the two girls were there for the duration. It was Kally and Cailyns first camping trip, so Cowans lake seemed perfect. It would be hard to find a more kid friendly campground, shady sites, a playground, the beach, trails, and a little store that sells ice cream. What more could a kid want? Anyone from a 1950's campground would be right at home.
And no prostiTOTs, 14 year olds dressed up like twenty five year old strippers. Every kid I saw was riding a bike, or swimming, or just yelling and throwing sticks, it was very refreshing.

Lightning bugs were a huge attraction, with a couple hours each evening devoted to their capture. The girls were much more into roasting marshmallows and making smores that eating them( I think I gained five pounds).




Then off we were to search for bigfoot. The girls shining their flashlights into the trailside woods, loooking for clues in each downed log or scuffed patch of leaves.
Then bedtime came with real monsters, raccoons that we learned were trained in opening coolers and making a mess out of camp. All night I could hear them scurrying around camp, with cute raccoon shadows running across the tent wall backlit by the dying embers of the campfire.


The last night Kally began to tell a scary story, her own version of the big bad wolf eating the three little pigs. Cailyn hopped up beside her and threw in the occasional "not by the hair of my chinny chin chin". Kally held her flashlight in classic scary story fasion and relished the storytelling. She's at the age where she is just starting to put the pieces of who she will become togethor. Clumsy and uncoordinated she won't become an athlete, but pretty and completely unafraid to speak in front of people. Maybe an newscaster or a teacher? With us that night was a young woman in her twenties much more interested in texting than Kally's story. Halfway thru she started a side conversation of her own and I found myself hating her a little bit. I've always been a sucker for the hokie, family, kid sort of thing but anyone with half a brain could see this was something special. She should have stayed home and watched Twilight on cable.

At night after everyone was asleep I'd wander down to the lake and catch channel cats. The nights were warm and still, with the eerie sounds of a screech owl drifting across the lake, perfect for catfishing.



Monday, July 4, 2011

Fireworks and Fish...




After a big fireworks show in Lebanon on the third I had the evening of the fourth free to slip out for a few hours to fish the Little Miami.

The river was in fantastic shape(finally!). And the weather was great, a few stray raindrops, overcast, maybe not classic cookout weather but perfect fishing weather.


Right off in a big eddy below a riffle a big saugeye nailed a grub. I figured it was a drum right up untill it was close, then things got real exciting real fast.


Right above the big eddy was a great looking riffle which produced some nice bass on an inline spinner.



Then I walked down to the tail of the pool. This was the deepest pool in several miles of river and with nice fish biting I was pretty pumped. A long riffle too fast to stand up in stretched across the river here. About a third of the way across things shallowed way up and submerged weeds formed a bed right in the middle of the riffle. In a couple weeks this would be a tiny island about ten feet long but now was covered in a half foot of water and weeds. Past the island the riffle poured across in a run too fast even in late summer to wade. Above this things deepened fast. Here I cast a yellow rooster tail quartering across. Five feet into the first cast a big smallie nailed the spinner, then tail walked across the riffle and right into the submerged weeds of the island. The only thing to do was go in after. Somehow after slogging thru the riffle the fish was still on when I got across. Then the smallie swung into the slack water below the riffle and shot skyward. It seemed to me she jumped waist high, one of the prettiest jumps I can remember.
Finally lipping the fish, I realised the camera was back across the riffle on the bank! Back across with the fish trying to hurry but not drop her. I snapped a quick (and bad) photo before turning her loose. Working the fish back and forth in a shallow backwater, I was relieved when she recovered and shot off back into the river. A very good forth indeed.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Big trip, little trip


With just a few hours till time to leave for work and the Little Miami still muddy I headed for Turtle Creek. A beautiful little creek too small to even remotely take serious as a fishing destination the creek has tiny smallmouth bass, the occasional carp, and those living jewels, the longeared sunfish. No matter how small, each one is a perfect work of art. Mostly various shades of blue ranging from metallic blue to the blue of the night sky just before dawn. Mix in the orange of pumpkins in fall and buttery yellows and somehow this riotous mix blends togethor perfectly. In hand, I'm always amazed at how much more lovely they are than they ever would need to be.


Strangely the one thing Ill remember most about this tiny trip was a bug the fish don't eat, the water strider. On the water was literaly thousands of what looked to be water striders. I say looked to be because thay were less than half the size of any I'd ever seen before but up close looked just like the Jesus Bugs I'd always known. Called Jesus bugs by country people because they walk on water, Ive never seen or heard of one ever being eaten by fish even though they would seem to be an easy mark. Indeed my dry fly was repeatedly attacked and these bugs ignored by the fish.



I have a short slow action cane fly rod I made out of an old longer broken one that loads well at the short ranges required in the creek. Its a rod that has been admired just on its looks and I like to think of it as being just like the sunfish, Light, scrappy and much prettier than it needs to be...



Lunch was a hatfull of streamside berries...


A few days later I ended up at the opposite end of the scale, below mighty Greenup Dam on the Ohio River.


Greenup is special in that there are points and swirls and eddies, nooks and crannies everywhere that you can reach from bank. Lazy after working on the roof of my cabin I fished chicken liver, half dozing in the shade. I was hoping for a hybrid striper or at least a nice catfish but instead a caught a gar. Gar do have the appealing quality of being just a bit scary and a fish I love to catch though no one else seems to like them one bit.


Waking up a bit I fished a grub in a big eddy below a small rocky point and caught several sauger.



Fishing shallower around the big rocks covering the point I caught four largemouths on spinners trying to catch a white bass. It seems it was a day to catch fish other than the ones I was trying to catch but that was okay, after all I was catching fish, which makes everything okay. Still trying to find the whites I fished a rattletrap in the current. Again I caught something else. Or rather alot of something elses. Fiesty skipjacks about a foot long slammed the silver crankbait then launched themselves skyward, looking like minature tarpon. Although I caught alot of fish a man and his young son literaly caught skipjacks every cast by catching bait in a cast net and fishing it under a floater in the eddies just out of the main current. Bird highlights were an immature bald eagle circling the dam repeatedly and an osprey catching a fish almost too heavy for it to carry. Downstream, below the first point, a kingfisher fished the same eddy as me catching minnow after minnow while I was there. All in all a very cool fishing trip...