NANFA-- Williams County, Ohio Report

Todd Crail (
Fri, 29 Aug 2003 01:57:15 -0400

Greetings NANFAns. I'm disappointed to report that no clear waters were
found in my Snorkelmeister (tm) inspired trip. I guess I'll have to move
further into Indiana or Michigan where the moraines are completely rock and
sand to prompt getting out the mask and snorkel. At one point, I was
probably a mile from both IN and MI, in the furthest northwest corner of
Ohio, and tried to assure I stayed in Ohio, as I don't have funding to put
toward their respective DNRs. However, the day was not a total loss... I
was in an area with a real gradient, and that's a wonderful difference
compared to many of the streams I usually sample.

I started out searching for access points on the St. Joseph River, which is
a tributary of the Maumee, not the one that flows through Indiana and
Michigan into Lake Michigan. I was under the impression that it was far
less turbid than other local streams... I was wrong. It's horribly
channelized and diked and yucko. In fact, I'd say it was even _more_ turbid
than the Mighty Muddy Maumee! I went up to "Clear Fork"... Yeah, it was a
bit better, but on the portion I thought about working in Pioneer, Ohio...
Disappointing for sure.

One tributary was prime, however. Nettle Creek above Nettle Lake is on a
nice gradient with sand, gravel and rock bottom with excellent headwater
riffle, pool, run exchanges. I parked at a field access at a bridge and
explored immediately adjacent to the bridge. I'm excited to go back and
sample this area with seines and help, and hopefully permission to move much
further in on the properties. With the dipnet and a short walk up and
downstream, I picked up eight species on minimal cover, as the pools and
riffles are the dominant habitats in the low water levels.

I nabbed a nice grass pickerel from under some exposed roots, and the
blacknose dace were abundant and featuring their brassy best. I also picked
up a nice sized female rainbow darter that had a peculiarly strong eye
mark... It left me in a fuss whether it was a rainbow or if it were actually
an orangethroat. If it was an orangethroat, well, it would've listed right
in there for the Fish Ohio awards. Really, it was large for a female
rainbow. So, without pictures or anything... I'm calling it a rainbow ;)

Looking for less "gray" parking and fishing spots, I moved on to check out a
DNR access on Nettle Lake. The site would be great for jumping in with the
belly boat and doing some lilly pad rod n reel fishing... But it dropped off
too quickly to work with a seine. I kinda poked around a bit doing some
fish watching. Some minnows were swimming in and out of the hygrophillia,
but nothing that really made me want to walk 20 feet to get a net. The
prize catch of the day was here though... I'm not sure if they're wood or
lily pad rhizomes or what. But man I found the _coolest_ looking
"driftwood" I've ever seen. I'll have to get a pic tomorrow, I could make a
small fortune off this stuff ;)

Dam side down off Nettle Lake, Nettle Creek was yucky. I think the evap off
the lake is greater than what is supplied and downstream is nothing but a
trickle from the groundwater there. Yuck. Saw the same thing earlier
downstream of Harrison Lake's dam. Oh well...

I drove around a bit, skirting the Lake La SuAnn Wildlife area where fishing
is by permit only. It's a DNR property, but is managed heavily to be a
"trophy" lake. I'd imagine, even though there were clear pull offs to park
on the headwaters feeding the lakes (and certainly none of the bass they're
trying to manage), that I'd be better served to look elsewhere without a
permit when sloshing around with nets and whatnot. I saw a DNR guy and
almost flagged him down to discuss what I was doing (like I just wanna see
what's in here, can I?) but didn't follow through...

So I gave the ol' DeLorme a good lookin and low and behold... There was a
_designated_ hunting and fishing access on yet another Beaver Creek in the
area, this one part of the Tiffin River system. It was also close to where
listmember Shane Graber lives and I figured if anything, we could go over to
his parents property and check that out.

This site was out of a dream. I felt like I was in another part of Ohio.
The stream ran through a ravine between moraines, was again all cobbled with
very little silt, yet had _much_ larger pools than Nettle Creek. The riffle
to pool exchange was fantastic, with no room for any runs. Nothing I've
ever experienced in this part of the state anyway. The walk in was
enjoyable as well with the botany of the area... Blue lobelia, ironweed,
turtlehead, joe pye weed, false sunflower and green headed coneflower were
abundant and all in bloom. The spring flowers in the ravine must be
absolutely impressive. And it's all just an hour from my door, which is a
nice thought to have :)

I started poking about the stream with my dipnet. I quickly found that
fantail darters were the dominant darter of the riffles, and one that Shane
had been wanting to keep. After nabbing about 30 of them in two riffles, I
just packed up and went to get him. This place needed sampled with a seine!

Back in action, the seine sucked up 16 species within 4 riffle to pool
combos. This was only about 40 yards worth of stream. The most encouraging
haul was off a riffle that had a railroad tie sort of causing a nice drop,
adjacent undercut bank with a veil of exposed roots lined the outside.
First haul we picked up two hog suckers which was very encouraging. Redfin
shiners were very abundant, I look forward to when I free up the 75 gal for

I also took a peek at the EPA data once home and found there's 31 potential
species they sampled... Among them was the horneyhead chub, spotted sucker
and shorthead redhorse :)

Shane grabbed a couple fantail and a greenside darter, as did I.... I've
been having much better success with the greenside I've been keeping,
feeding it mysid shrimp... It really wasted away on bloodworms. So we
thought we'd see if this wasn't the key. Hopefully Shane's is still
kickin'... Mine pretty much bought the farm on the way home (didn't look
good when we were splitting up). So he turned into a warmouth treat ;)
It's probably still too warm to collect darters... So September can like get
here any time now!

I also finally gave myself permission to try a hog sucker. Hopefully I've
just built all that up in my mind as "tough to do" like I had with the
stonerollers. It chilled out pretty quickly after acclimation... We'll see
what unfolds in the upcoming weeks.

Also brought home a juvenile suckermouth minnow. Thought it was a true
sucker and wanted to ID and raise... Turned out to be a cyprinid heh. It
has behavior and build like the Siamese Algae Eaters found in the ornamental
hobby... It will be interesting to see if this was just external likness or
if it is true convergence. I'm really hoping for convergence :)

Okay... It's getting late... Here's the list, and good night all :)

8/28/03 Williams County, OH
Nettle Creek - St. Joseph River - Maumee River
Todd Crail - dipnet
grass pickerel
creek chub
spotfin shiner
blacknose dace
green sunfish
johnny darter
rainbow darter

Beaver Creek - Tiffin River - Maumee River
Todd Crail, Shane Graber - 8' seine
common shiner
redfin shiner
bluntnose minnow
creek chub
suckermouth minnow
blacknose dace
white sucker
northern hog sucker
green sunfish
bluegill sunfish
largemouth bass
fantail darter
greenside darter
johnny darter
blackside darter

It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,