We used two Sportspal canoes, wide, flat bottomed and very stable craft that weighed around 34 poundsand were only 11 feet or so long, this with oarlocks so we could paddle or row as we wished. We traveled in one canoe and trailed the second behind loaded with tent, camping gear, and food and water. It was a great trip!
We saw deer, a black bear or two, waterfowl, and other creatures, and ran occasional small rapids, stopping below each to fish a little. At days end, we camped along shore, cleaned our fish, and enjoyed crisp fried fillets, then slept the sleep of the just. It was a lazy, peaceful, quiet, and very pleasant float, sharing the river with hardy anyone at all once we left civilization.
I've made a similar trip or two to places like the Boundary Canoe Waters in northeast Minnesota, and talked with a couple of friends about an adventure trip they made much more recently to a remote river in Canada. "It was wild country" one said. "We paddled for days watching bears, moose, beaver, otters, waterfowl, and other creature s, drifted through many miles of white barked birch and over crystal clear water, caught plenty of fish, and spent evenings just loafing around our campfire with no one for miles around. We'll definitely do it again."
Trips like that are great, but you can enjoy much shorter ones, too, and right near home. A good many times I've floated sections of the Sandusky River with a fishing friend. We'd drop one pickup truck off well downstream, drive upstream for miles, park and launch our little canoe. Then float toward Lake Erie, fishing as we went and usually making good catches of smallmouth bass and rockbass. I've done it on the Huron River too, and down south near the Ohio River on Ohio Brush Creek.
Some day I'd like to float a long section of the Big Scioto River, maybe launching below Columbus and floating down to the Ohio River, camping on sandbars or little islands and fishing as we went for channel cats and other species. I've never done it and know little about the river, but I do know it would be important to go with a friend, have a phone device with satellite connections since there would probably be dead areas in remote sections, and a well stocked first aid kit.
It would be important to check the weather too, since heavy rains upstream could flood your camp, and let others know where you're going and when you should arrive. Do remember that on short trips this fall you can not only fish a chosen river, but do some squirrel and wood duck hunting, something I've enjoyed many a time. Lots of choices this summer, but canoeing should be one of them.
Dick Martin, a free-lance writer from Shelby, is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for more than 30 years. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.
HOOKS & BULLETS
• Ohio hunters checked a total of 19,088 wild turkeys during the 2019 spring season. In 2018, hunters checked a total of 22,635 wild turkeys. Huron County hunters bagged 118 birds, down noticeably from last years tally of 163. Seneca County hunters found 154, Sandusky - 19, Richland - 318, Erie - 51, and Lorain - 141. Populations are definitely down for whatever reason. Ohio's record spring turkey harvest was reported in 2001 when 26.156 birds were killed.
• Approximately 70 different black bears are reported annually in the Buckeye state according to the ODNR, most of them young males looking for their own territory. Each year, some of these bears are associated with conflict situation, the most common being damage to bird feeders. Readers who see signs of bear presence or the animals themselves are recommended to remove their feeders and stop feeding birds until Labor Day. If a bear is sighted, individuals should report the sighting at wildohio.,gov.
• It's definitely surprising, but according to Jordan Lubetkin of the National Wildlife Association, states bordering the Ohio River will vote whether to weaken clean water protections to the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water to more than 5 million people. The move comes months after the regional body that oversees pollution standards for the river, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation District, failed to weaken clean water protections. At the meeting in Covington, Ky. commissioners representing eight states will vote on a proposal to make pollution standards voluntary, a move tantamount to eliminating clean water protections.
• The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently announced that it was postponing its decision whether to list the monarch butterfly as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Monarch butterflies have suffered steep population declines due to the conversion of habitat into row crop agriculture. Research by the University of Wisconsin estimates that more than 223 million milkweed stems, the only food for monarch caterpillars, were lost across the Midwest due to crop conversion. This represents a reduction of 17 percent of the regions milkweed.