I love little creeks. When I was a kid roaming the hills and valleys of southern Ohio it was routine to gather up some young friends on a summer morning and head for a handy creek.
Most were small, just 6 to 10 feet wide or so and inches deep with pools here and there, and we'd splash up and down their length wearing old tennis shoes just looking for snakes, frogs, turtles and muskrats.
Inevitably, one bicycle or another would have a minnow seine tied to its frame and a couple more would have minnow buckets sitting in their wire baskets. Eventually, we'd seine a few dozen minnows and some inch-long crayfish, pedal back to our favorite lake and fish for crappie, pumpkinseeds and bass. Good times.
As time passed, I moved north, got a master's degree from The Ohio State University and settled down to teaching biology. But I still scoured little creeks seeking inhabitants for my fish tanks. Then one day on a small creek near my home I began noticing I was picking up young smallmouth bass along with my chubs, dace and darters. It takes bigger ones to make little ones, so one morning I picked up an ultralite rod with four-pound test line, added an eighth-ounce pearl gray Roostertail spinner, and took a more serious walk along that creek.
It was an eye opener! The little pools that were ankle deep or so yielded hard-fighting and high-leaping smallmouths that zipped out from under cutbanks and slammed into the spinner like they were starving. They leaped high and fought hard until exhausted. They weren't huge fish, mostly 6 to 10 inches, but one pool that was nearly hip deep turned up a bass of nearly a pound which gave a great scrap on my light gear. All were returned to fight again, and I returned, too, several times a summer just to have fun.
It wasn't a fluke. I visited my brother-in-law near Dayton once and waded the little creek that flowed along his bottomland. He was amazed to hear that I'd found nine bass along its length, the largest again about 10 inches. And I've tried other streams here and there to find bass that seldom or never saw a lure. Readers might like to try this brand of fun fishing, too, in a pastoral setting that might include cattle and sheep, and will certainly have wood ducks, squirrels, wary and suspicious groundhogs, and perhaps deer and wild turkey. But no anglers.
And if you have no creeks close by, the larger streams are worth wading and canoeing. I've fished such waters from Ohio Brush Creek near the Ohio River to the Olentangy, and Lake Erie tributaries from the Sandusky River to the Huron and Vermilion. All will yield bass, though the larger waters might hold fish of several pounds. And I usually carry my "tackle box" in my shirt pocket.
Typically, it consists of one of my favorite pearl gray Roostertail spinners, along with an eighth-ounce jig with twister tail (black or brown), a miniature sinking Rapala in black and gray, and a small crankbait that digs down and imitates a crayfish. I'll fish the spinner and Rapala in long, smooth runs and just below riffles, the jig in deep water pools, and save the little crankbait for spots where I've missed a strike from a nice fish.
If you're looking for something new, for fish that don't know a lure, for country where you'll rarely see a fellow angler, you might try this creek and stream fishing. It can be addicting.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Hunters wanting to participate in Ohio's fall controlled deer and waterfowl hunts have until July 31 to submit applications for a random drawing. Hunters can submit their applications online atwww.wildohio.com. The application fee is $3 for those who apply online and $5 for those who mail the applications. Application fees are non-refundable. Paper applications for hunts from Magee Marsh to the NASA Plumbrook Center and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge can be obtained by calling (800) WILDLIFE.
The May 27 death of professional football player Marquise Hill on Louisiana'a Lake Ponchartrain should remind all boaters to follow state boating rules when riding on jet-propelled personal watercraft. Although friends described the 24-year-old defensive end as a strong swimmer, he apparently drowned after falling off a Jet Ski and suffering a concussion. He was jet skiing after sunset and was not wearing a life jacket. Both are violations of Louisiana boating rules.
The Deerassic Park Education Center will host Kicking Bear One-On-One a campout and archery shoot for youths June 22 and 23. There is no charge for the event, and includes all meals and snacks. It also includes 3-D archery shoots, hayrides, fishing, an atlatl demonstration and a mandatory safety course. The preferred age is 5 to 15, but no one will be turned down. To register, call Deerassic Park at (740) 435-3335. The Park is located near Cambridge.