For this trip I packed light. Too light. I forgot one critical piece of gear needed for this area, and I paid the price dearly. I mistakenly presumed my bug repellent was still in my car while it was actually in my larger fishing pack. The one I did not take. The relentless swarm of blood-suckers ultimately ended my outing prematurely. What I did remember to bring was a small assortment of crawfish and baitfish flies, along with my trusty Moonlit Shadowcast 3wt glass rod. Early on, the outing was baffling. I found gorgeous water with depth and cover...but the action was slower than slow. The bite picked up quickly and I discovered the creek was loaded with rock bass.
Rock bass are fun to catch, but they are not the main "draw" for me on streams like this. What I am truly after are the spotted and largemouth bass, as well as the most gorgeous of sunfish: the longears. I soon saw a spotted bass trailing my crawfish fly, but the fish was not acting overly aggressive. I worked way too hard to get this bass to eat. It took repeated casts, speeding up and slowing down the craw, before finally getting the eat. I was hoping this wasn't a bad omen for bass fishing the creek, but it turned out to be the only bass that was so passive towards the fly.
Now for the part that's difficult to believe without photographic evidence. I spotted a great bass for this creek, a solid 13-14" fish, holding in shallow water at the tail of a pool. I managed to flip my craw fly in its vicinity and the fish did the rest. Just one problem, I broke off on the hook set, rolling the fish. The bass swam up into the large pool and actually jumped once just to pour a little salt in the wound. I moved upstream, now fishing a brown version of the same craw that fish ate (which was black/blue). I caught one small bass, then had a more solid eat. I lipped the bass and started laughing hysterically. I got my fly back.
Continuing upstream, I at long last found a few of the hidden gems of SE Ohio, the longear sunfish. Longears are never going to be the largest fish you catch on an outing, but you will be hard pressed to ever catch a fish more gorgeous than a brightly colored longear. I was fortunate to find two of them on this trip, along with a nicely colored green sunfish sprinkled in between.
Roughly halfway through the stretch I intended to fish, I was running out of patience dealing with the mosquitoes. My choices at that point were to turn back, or try smearing stream mud on my exposed skin to try to turn them away. After catching a few more rock bass and a well-hidden spotted bass that was hiding under some logs, I reached the breaking point and started back. Mosquitoes won the war and I learned my lesson to always be sure the bug spray is where you think it is.
The walk back was briskly paced, and even that didn't keep the mosquitoes from trying their best to get another drink from me. The outing produced a large number of fish, some surprisingly large fish given the size of the stream, and eight total species of fish caught (spotted and largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, green and longear sunfish, creek chub, and shiner). I only managed to cover about half of the water I had intended to fish, so a return trip will certainly be in order. It was a great outing for peace and solitude, minus the company of the mosquitoes. You never know what small streams like this might hold, so get out and explore. You might find a gem hidden close to home on 100% public ground, just like this.