NANFA-- Phelps Creek, Ohio

Irate_Mormon (
Thu, 4 Apr 2002 15:01:03 GMT

a trip report from Rob Carillio, from last October

"FISH SAMPLING" Phelps Creek, Ashtabula County, Ohio
Rob Carillio

I have always loved the kinds of streams located in Ashtabula County,
Ohio mainly for the interesting geological features, but one in particular
that has always been an enchanting memory, is Phelps Creek, located in
the deepest S.W. corner of the Amish influenced county.

With its highly visable evidence of "natural artwork" sculpted by glacier
activity, Phelps Creek boasts thick and healthy riparian zone and is
undoubtedly one of the more healthy and scenic streams in North East
Ohio. The medium sized tributary is a major tributary of the State Scenic
and Wild River, The Grand River, and is part of the Lake Erie drainage.

The particular site I would visit on a beautiful early October afternoon,
welcomed Myself, Trumbull County Metroparks Board Member Bill Flynn,
NANFA'S Nick Zarlinga and his wife Linda, and of course, the best wild
bird sound immitator I have ever heard, Lake County MetroParks
Naturalist, Jeff Rebe. We gained access to the stream near the old 1863
covered bridge, which had long been closed off due to liability situations.
Since we couldn't cross it, we had to literally climb a steep embankment
of rocks down to the creek bed..Although a little challenging, this only
added a spice of adventure to the outing!

Taking just a moment, I feel compelled to comment on the wonderful
historic coverd bridge at the acess point. This bridge was well over 40 feet
above the stream and supported by large sandstone block columns! Oh
well, in any event, this covered bridge alone was worth the trip to at least
get some post card perfect photos! The trees in Autumn colors of red,
yellow, brown and green coupled with the rocky cliffs and Phelps Creek
lazilly flowing below, was a stunning sight to behold near the bridge!
Summer's end was evident as the waters of the creek were very low.
Since it was almost 6pm, we obviously weren't going to have much
daylight, so we started wadeing the stream!!! Outdoor temperatures were
in the high 60's to low 70's... water temp was around 65 degrees. Nick,
Bill and Jeff were the primary fish seekers, as I basically handled the
buckets! Hey... I'm for hire.. Do all of you hear that???!! HA! We all
suddenly heard Something raising a ruckess in the hemlock trees high
above the gorge... Look up in the sky!!! up in the forest canopy... what did
we see????.. No, not Darterman... BUT... approximately 4 wild Turkeys!!!
This was quite inspiring, seeing that in recent history, these birds were
absent from Ohio!

Another impressive sight was the small waterfall up stream a little way. As
we were hiking the strembed searching for nice sampling spots. We were
becoming lost in our own little world, when we were informed by a woman
atop the gorge banks that we were ventureing on private property! Nick
Zarlinga took the liberty and explained to the wary property owner that "her
stream" was the subject of high naturalist interest, and that we were just
trying to see what species inhabit the diverse habitats in the stream! Nice
job Nick!

Finally finding some nice sampling areas, Nick, Bill, and Jeff, were able to
sample various pools. These were the only habitats available due to the
low water levels. By the way, Linda Zarlinga, who in recent days has not
had much luck with hiking in natural areas (she broke some bones on a
recent trip!), found a safe solitude on a large stream rock that made a
perfect sitting spot! Linda had the right idea, as she knew how slippery the
stream rocks were! I almost fell twice!!!

Now the fish finding would begin!!! Using various methods taught by "The
Nick Zarlinga school for the INSEINE".... We were able to locate in a
couple hours only about 10 species... This was largely due to the nets
getting caught on large rocks. Although Phelps Creek boasts a diverse
assemblege of native fishes, on this late afternoon, our inventory read like
this.... Johnny Darter, Rainbow Darter, White Sucker, Common and maybe
Striped Shiner, Blacknose Dace, Bluntnose Minnow, Central Stone Roller,
Mottled Sculpiin, Northern Hog Sucker (a big fella!), Creek Chub, Sand
Shiner, Green Sunfish, Fantail Darter, and some various Crayfish. Roger
Thoma???... Where are you???!!!....

As darkness began to cast forbodeing shaddows upon Phelps Creek
Gorge, we thought is best to pack up the gear and begin climbing out. I
thought this was difficult climbing down with empty hands... try climbing
UP, with buckets full of fish and water!!! Phelps Creek Gorge, in the early
evening, can appear quite spooky!!! This was fitting for October, as
I now know what Ichabod Crane felt like when he was riding his horse
fearfully slow heading home from Sleepy Hollw!!! HA! I hope to return to
this extreemly picturesque stream, perhaps in the Spring time, when
water is a little higher, and fishes are in full breeding color. This is a "best
kept secret" kind of place in North East Ohio, and I think anyone would find
the trip worthwhile, even if just to enjoy the scenery of this enchanting
place! It's a natural gem, amidst the highly populated north east portion of

Thank you Nick and Linda Zarlinga, Jeff Rebe, and Bill Flynn for attending
this small but quality gathering... and thank you Nick for your hospitality as
we ventured back to your home to unwind, examine what we caught, eat,
and just talk fish! . Oh... By the way... I can't forget to mention what a great
native tank you have!!!
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