Follow by Email

Monday, May 29, 2017

Massie Creek Gorge, a must see destination

Heads up to all you Southern Ohio river and stream fanatics, Massie Creek Gorge is a must see if you really want to understand our rivers and streams. Everything that makes our streams special all concentrated in one location. Glacial melt? check. Spectacular scenery? check. Compelling local history? check. Indian mounds and earthworks? Old mills? Jokulhlaups? Adena? End moraine? Check, check, check. Wait, a jokulhlaup? What's a jokulhlaups? One of those animals in a Dr Seus story? One of those bad taxidermy experiments using using rabbit and antelope parts? Nope, a jokulhlaup is the sudden, violent and short-lived increase in discharge of glacial meltwater. That's the cool part about lots of places in the Little Miami watershed like Massie Creek, or Glen Helen, or Clifton Gorge or Siebenthaler Fen, they expand your mind. You end up googling things you would have never in a million years looked up otherwise. 
You see our geography is a little more involved than most. It isn't the typical water as rain forms little streams that cut their way down to form valleys and combine to form bigger streams the way we all think these things work. 
Instead starting about 300,000 years ago, much of Ohio was covered several times by massive sheets of glacial ice that expanded from the north. The most recent advance of ice, the Wisconsinan, arrived from Canada about 24,000 years ago and lasted until about 14,000 years ago. Some of these were a mile thick! And these giant sheets of ice bulldozed everything in their path creating the flat cornfield country we see in the central part of the state. And as they melted and expanded things got a little wild. You have probably seen those ice caves and under the glacier streams on the Discovery Channel associated with modern glaciers? Picture those on a grand scale, and giant temporary lakes  of dammed up water and huge floods when the ice dams broke. Giant rivers like the  ancient Teays River were formed and then wiped back out again. That's why so many of our streams in southern Ohio seem backward, with the steep hillsides you normally see in the headwaters of streams in the lower portion of the stream and the flat country you normally see in the lower portion of  stream in the headwaters. And connecting the two are places like Massie Creek gorge, Clifton Gorge, Fort Ancient gorge etc. And that's just in the Little Miami watershed they are found all over southern Ohio on streams like Rocky Fork, Paint Creek or in the spectacular scenery at Hocking Hills and on and on. 
And it's not just geology that makes Massie Creek so interesting. There is the tall Williamson Mound, thought to be an Adena Mound built between 500 BC and 100 AD. It stands about 30' high and is 140' in diameter. Then there is the Pollock Works. The Pollock Works is a Hopewell culture (100 BC - AD 500) ceremonial center. It consists of a series of earthen embankments ranging from three to ten feet in height that partially enclose a large, 120-acre, plateau located along Massie Creek. AND...on top of the walls there is evidence that there was a wooden stockade built atop the walls. Maybe it was a bit of a fort as well? Th jury is still out a bit. It seems there was layer upon layer of Native American people using the site over thousands of years. And the history keeps coming. That big waterfall you see by the upper parking lot. Well look close in times of low water. Most of Cedar Cliff Falls is manmade though you would never know it. It was actually built to harness the creek to power several mills way back in the day. If you look closely there are signs of past mills and other remains of early settlers all along the trail following the creek. Also in three places on the day these photos were taken water just spouted from the dolomite cliffs that line the creek like water from  garden hose from some of the multitude of springs in the area. Like I said a little bit of everything compressed into one spot. And the woods was filled with wildflowers inbloom.  If you haven't been there and love the outdoors, Massie Creek Gorge is well worth spending some quality time at.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Free Hoodie

 Abu Garcia:  Buy any Abu Garcia Revo spinning reel, get an Abu Garcia hoodie ($49.99 value) *$9.95 S&H Required

Monday, May 22, 2017

29" hybrid

I've been trying for one like this for a very long time. I couldn't be happier

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The last few days in fishing...

SW Ohio rivers. A whole bunch of smallmouth but nobody really picture worthy. Numbers of small stripes during the day but the better hybrids seem to be biting after dark. In current during the day but up on shallow flats and eddies at night. On three inch grubs during the day and large curly shad at night. Two more shovelhead on a lure. I think that brings me to at least a dozen on a lure this year so far but that's mainly on the strength of three days in spring when I caught six. Caught three or four really nice drum and some smaller ones the last couple days on grubs and curly shads as well while chasing hybrids. I imagine if a person wanted to target them right now with crawlers they would really catch them.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cab overs...

A fun day at a wildlife area pond. Must have caught at least 50 nice gills with quite a few being the big "cab over" ones. On a bead head nymph fished slowly. They sure are colored beautifully this time of year

Friday, May 12, 2017


So right before I headed out fishing this evening I poured the goo out of a can of sardines into a zip lock baggie and then dumped in a bunch of pearl glitter curly shads. No idea if that made a difference or not but I caught a sturgeon! The fish was hooked right on the outside of it's weird underslung mouth that looks like that of a stingray. A bit of googling after I got home showed that sturgeon are occasionally caught on lures once in a blue moon and that preferred baits are stinky oily minnows and fish so maybe the sardines did help. I was throwing the curly shad into a big eddy and letting it settle all the way to the bottom before reeling it slowly in. Which was just the ticket for a bunch of hybrid stripes. Nothing big but there was a whole bunch of them. A pretty cool nights fishing on the river.

Monday, May 8, 2017

phat girl...

Being both an avid river rat and a hillbilly, when discussing lake fishing versus river fishing I'm reminded of the good old boy quote about about today's "pop" country.... "I'd rather hear a fat girl fart than a pretty boy sing"
Well a swollen and muddy Ohio river is pretty close to the fishing equivalent of a fat girl farting but at least it lets me put off for another day or two fishing still water. On a big half ounce jighead and a large curly shad fished in the eddy right below the dam

Thursday, May 4, 2017

muddy water ramblings....

Since the rivers are all a mess it seems like as good a time as any to do a little studying. Forgive the disjointed and hop scotch writing, Its more a collection of things I find interesting than a polished piece of writing...

In Japan the smallmouth bass has been described as the “world’s most disastrous invasive species” . Numerous methods to remove them have been considered, as their introduction is a major concern for the conservation of native biodiversity. Invasive bass constitute a “serious biohazard,” and several studies on biodiversity in Japan promote their eradication in Japan. Numerous studies have found that in lakes and streams anywhere smallmouth bass have been introduced they completely change the dynamics of baitfish populations within a few years.

A study done by the University of Wisconsin found that bass greatly prefer crayfish with smaller claws. And that crayfish with large claws were approached with much greater caution and often involved the bass circling the crayfish at length for some time trying to attack it from behind. And it was found that if the crayfish acted aggressively with the claws up defensive posture that we have all been trained to look for in out plastic imitations, the bass quite often just swam off and looked elsewhere for an easier meal. There are about a billion youtube videos out there of guys throwing crayfish into aquariums with bass. What does the bass do? He sucks it in, blows it out, then repeats as often as necessary till he either kills it or renders it helpless enough to eat. Three studies, one done on the New River in W VA and one done in central Ohio and one done on the Current and Jack's Fork in Missouri found that smallmouth bass targeted crayfish in the one to two inch range and the one done in Ohio found they preferred a crayfish that was 1 1/4 inches long over one that 1 1/2 inches long! And bigger smallmouth seem to be even more selective than smaller bass. In fact one study done in the Ozarks found that big smallmouth were even more likely to take a crayfish UNDER 1 1/4 inches long than other sized bass!

According to the study, Associations of turbidity and diet in smallmouth and spotted bass and creek chubs of the Scioto River, "it is possible that there may have been a switch to crayfish at high turbidity levels." But the same study quickly states that this is not conclusive but it is food for thought.

One study done on the Current River in Missouri I found very interesting. They first seined and measured the baitfish in the river The average size minnow in the river was between an inch and an inch anda half long. But the average size minnow eaten by smallmouth was three and a half inches long. It was felt that smallmouth preferred larger baitfish but didn't pass up an of the smaller ones they could catch.

And there is a study that was done on the Columbia River that I find really fascinating, especially for anyone interested in targeting larger smallmouth bass. In this study it was determined that for smallmouth less than 250 mm long crayfish were far and away the most important food item. But smallmouth in the 250 to 300 mm range ate more sculpin (up to half of their diet) than any other food item and that smallmouth over 300 mm ate more suckers (52%) than any other food item.

So what can we conclude from all that? To me it means a couple things. There is a reason that tubes and rebel craws are standard smallmouth bass lures, they imitate small crayfish that smallmouth bass love. Don't use that big plastic texas rigged craw with the huge claws on it. I don't care if you caught a five pounder on it twelve years ago. If I fished a piece of an old sock on a jighead long enough I might catch a monster, that doesn't mean it's the best thing to use. If you do use one of those big plastic craws you just might be selecting for smaller smallmouth bass as well since the bigger bass are the ones most likely to eat a craw smaller than 1 1/4 inches long. And I feel these validate something I've felt in my gut after 40 years of river fishing, that grubs and swimbaits will catch you bigger smallmouth year in and year out in rivers than tubes will. And on the whole I think river fishermen use crayfish baits that are way too big and minnow baits that are way too small. If you are trying to catch a big one that is.

And here are a couple things I gleaned from the amazing book Lunker! by Bob Underwood. Bob was an accomplished diver, photographer and avid fisherman. He conducted tons of experiments on bass and observed the results both by diving and thru the use of large aquariums. Some things I found interesting...
Bass caught out of a school that were released unharmed quickly rejoined the school. Those bass were sometimes re-caught. But bass that were injured and were bleeding were not accepted back into the school and the entire school would swim away to avoid them. As long as bass were released unharmed the bass would often continue to bite. But if a bass was injured to the point that it's skin was broken the entire school would shut down and not bite. Oddly enough something like a puncture wound inside the mouth didn't affect the fishing unless the fish was injured to the point of bleeding.  He felt injured bass released some kind of scent that alerted other bass of danger. He then conducted experiments of baitfish and found that the same thing held true for other fish species as well. Maybe it isn't so much a case of replacing a bait with a livelier one as it is replacing it with one giving off a new and stronger "danger" scent. He also removed a tiny bit of skin off of the back of a bass and hooked it on the treble of a plug. That scared the heck out of bass and they avoided the lure drastically.

According to the In-Fisherman book Smallmouth Bass most of the time unless the fish is extremely thin or full of eggs you can get a really close estimate of the fishes weight by multiplying length x length x length and then dividing by 1600. For example 18 x 18 x 18 = 5832. 5832 divided by 1600 = 3.6 pounds or 3 lbs ten ounces. which makes your average 20 incher right at five pounds. No idea if it works for largemouth but i'd think it would be slightly different.

Smallmouth bass have been introduced to Africa, Europe and Russia, as well as both east and west across Canada. The initial expansion of smallmouth bass range took place in the mid-1800s, to central New York State through the Erie Canal, then across the United States as far as California. They were introduced into California in 1874  and transplanted into the New England states in the late 1800s. Smallmouth bass are now found in all states except Florida, Louisiana and Alaska.

High water and smallmouth bass....
During wintertime flooding one study found that smaller smallmouth bass were often killed but that wintertime flooding did not seem to affect the population of larger smallmouth bass. And another study found that early springtie flooding before the spawn actually seemed to improve that years success in spawning. (possibly by washing away silt?) But of course major flooding right in the middle of the spawn was a disaster.

Up to 20 percent of adult smallmouth bass do not spawn during any given year. It was found in one study that these fish do not begin develop eggs and that whether or not they will spawn seems to be predetermined sometime the year before though scientists are not sure how this process takes place. For me that means I just go on fishing like I always do and avoid the moral dilemma of chasing spawning bass. During any given year up to 40% of all smallmouth bass nests fail but a successful nest may ultimately produce about 2,000 fry.  Some bass repeatedly home to the same nesting site each year, and over 85% of these return to within 130 meters of where they nested in previous years.

Usain Bolt in a race ran nearly 28 miles per hour which is twice as fast as a smallmouth can swim. Smallmouth bass are not built for speed but instead for quick acceleration.

A 2001 survey by TWRA biologists reported the lengths of the smallmouth bass populations in Tennessee streams. Many of the populations surveyed had a low abundance of quality-size bass. The average proportional stock density was 34, meaning that only 34 percent of the stock length fish (over 7 inches) in the population were over 11 inches long. they also reported in 2001 on Dale Hollow there was an estimated 106,228 smallmouth caught and 12,227 kept.

 In streams, smallmouth bass can live to be 15 years of age, and attain a maximum length of about 21 to 22 inches. The average stream smallmouth bass grows to 14 inches in length by age 6

And yeah we all know the world record smallie weighed eleven pounds fifteen ounces but the most amazing part to me is that the fish was twenty seven inches long. Imagine a twenty seven inch smallmouth.

Monday, May 1, 2017

getting muddy with it...

Sometimes you are rewarded for fishing when everything is all blown out and almost thick enough to walk on. . In an up and muddy Ohio River. Nothing like having a shovelhead longer than your leg nail a five inch clear with silver grub four feet off the bank. Lucky for the paddlefish I hooked it, it had a jigging spoon stuck firmly in its back where it had broken off someone else.