Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Discovering Mosquito Creek

Note: I apologize for the format of this story. I will correct it soon.

NANFA-- OHIO NANFA OUTING: Mosquito Creek Canoeing and Seining.... Friday, July 28th 2000
Robert Carillio


Among many rivers that go under-appreciated in Ohio, I would like to throw
Mosquito Creek in Trumbull county Ohio into the "box of nominations!!!"
Mosquito Creek, near Warren, Ohio, is part of the Ohio River drainage, and
is contained within the Mahoning River watershed. On Friday, July 28, 2000,
I had the pleasure of hosting fellow NANFA member and Cleveland Metroparks
Zoo Aquatic Biologist, Nick Zarlinga and his wife Linda, on what would
prove to be a very challenging, yet beautiful canoe trip. We would also
stop along the way to seine a few areas for fish and other aquatic life. The
weather was relatively cooperative; approximately 78 degrees and partly
cloudy. Later on our trip, we would hear the faint sound of thunder in the
distance, but fortunately, nothing reached us!


I am going to start by describing this 6 mile portion of the creek's
corridor as what appears to be a very remote "wilderness" cutting through a
region that has a population combined of over 500,000. This small river
greenway, according to a local botanist, contains many rare and state
endangered plants, and is recently being considered for nomination of an
extremely important birding area. The nearby Mosquito Creek Wildlife
Reserve, operated by ODNR, is home to nesting Bald Eagles. When canoeing
down this river moving south of the tail water and dam of the Mosquito Creek
reservoir, it doesn't take long to see that you are completely surrounded by
hundreds of acres of wetland forest. Where ever you look, be it to the
front, left, right, and the back, there is nothing but woods!!! What is so
special about this? Well, as mentioned above the river cuts through a
densely populated area of N.E. Ohio, yet most of the land is privately
owned, making it a sitting duck for developers to forever change in most
likely a negative way. Recently, 14 acres has been considered for donation,
by a local developer, who simultaneously, has plans to develop up to 300
acres. With that in mind, and seeing suburban housing rapidly closing in on
this hidden jewel, it becomes disappointing to see it as it is now, and to
wonder what it will look like in 25 years.



Ironically, area elected officials have made no noise about area planning maps sitting on shelves
collecting dust, that show this entire corridor as a future preserved
greenway that would boast hiking and biking trails, and serve other
multi-use "green recreation" uses. Nearby Howland township, however, in
recent township meetings, has expressed interest in preserving 200 acres of
the watershed. Anyone visiting from out of town with an interest in nature,
or "green recreation", would find it unbelievable that local governments
have expressed little interest in making this the areas next large land
tract greenway. Their has been plenty of interest, however, in developing
houses and fast food type development in the area of the river. This agenda
probably sprouts from an ancient and outdated mindset of many area elected
officials, that a piece of land is worthless unless it is developed.


Well, getting back to the canoe trip, and now that you have an idea in your
mind as to the kind of place I am describing, let me continue the tour!!!
After canoeing downstream for about 20 minutes enjoying the scenery, Nick
Zarlinga and myself took a short break and pulled the canoes over to seine
for fish a little while, but before we did, we had to apply some mosquito
repellent, as they don't call this place Mosquito Creek for nothing!!!It
could have easily been called "POISON IVY CREEK" as well, due to the many
areas of the plant taking control of some of the banks. I think I avoided
most of it, as I haven't started scratching yet!!!

Moving on, as we waded
through the water, we came across several shallow weedy beds in the river
and decided this would yield something interesting. As Nick's wife Linda
acted as this outing's "official photographer", Nick and I carefully
maneuvered the seine net in a corralling fashion towards the shore. We then, in
typical seining fashion, quickly rose the net from the water, and amidst a
startled group of various water insects, and aquatic vegetation, we were
able to identify several juvenile spotted Large Mouth Bass about one inch in
length. apparently, we raided an area where they were taking refuge from
predators, and feeding on small aquatic life. These fish were handsome
"little devils", gleaming with a silvery emerald green, and showing
scatterings of tiny mottled type black spots. In the same catch, we noticed
what appeared to be one to one and a half inch juvenile Black Crappies. We
both agreed, that when being used to seeing these fish as the large and
voracious feeders they can be, it is really a treat to see them this tiny.
For the aquarium sake, too bad they can't stay this small!!!


After getting back into the canoes and enjoying more of the trip we would
once again decide to seine for more fish in a nearby back water shallow pool
that was inundated with various wetland plants. This is the last moment of
what appeared to be an easy canoe trip!!!... LOG JAMS GALORE AHEAD!!! Most
of them probably the cause of recent logging practices near the banks. Let's
get back to some seining for a moment! Our next "scoop of the net" yielded
some tiny sand shiners, what appeared to be about 2 inch Blackstripe
topminnows, and some juvenile Pumpkinseed sunfish. A friendly young Bullfrog
also refused to leave my hand!

As we were trying to retrieve some larger
bait for a stop along the river to fish rod and reel for a while, we were
unsuccessful, due to the many snags our seine net experienced while
underwater on branches and such. Nick, Linda, and myself just decided then
to simply watch the scenery, take photographs and enjoy the rest of the
trip. We witnessed Great Blue Herons, Red-tailed Hawks, Beaver, young and
curious Raccoons, a Black Rat snake, and Deer, as well as enjoyed the sound
of many song birds. As I mentioned above, this was the last moment of
relaxation!!!.... Nick, I know you are going to plan something good after I
put you through this!!!....


The rest of the trip was spent trying to maneuver around several log jams, as
mentioned earlier. We were successful, felt challenged, and as though we
certainly accomplished something!. I know I slept wonderful that night. It
seemed as though every 50 to 100 yards we were either literally pulling our
canoes under a jam, lifting them out of the water to carry them over a jam,
or somehow getting through them by accident!!!I honestly didn't think there
would be as many as we encountered! This would have made a great training
and obstacle course for even highly experienced canoers. All the while
trying to avoid poison ivy, we actually did finish the trip!

What usually is
approximately a 4 hour trip, seining and all took over 7 hours. So I think
if we had not stopped to do anything else, the jams probably added one and a
half hours to the trip!!! Although we certainly didn't find a whole lot in
our seines, I would like to add that this river is part of The Mahoning River
Watershed(Ohio River drainage), that is home to over 64 species of fishes,
according to recent Ohio EPA, and Ohio Division of Wildlife surveys taken
between 1980 and 1996. Despite the "more than our share" of obstacles, The
Mosquito is a place of enchanting beauty worth our attention and protection.
As many anglers are familiar with the popular Mosquito Creek State Park, few
people get to see what we witnessed: The mostly unscathed 6 mile green
stretch that lies between the dam and Howland township, near Warren, Ohio.


For those of you interested in taking a trip down this river, feel free to
contact me, Rob Carillio, to arrange a date and time. Hopefully I can get a
few volunteers to cut small passages through some of the log jams just
enough to let canoers pass. Maybe then, when more concerned and caring
people see this remarkable "green giant" amidst a highly urbanized region,
perhaps then, their will arise enough interest to pull those dusty plans
from the shelves of county planning offices, and make The Mosquito Creek
Greenway a reality, and to be protected for all times..... Robert S.
Carillio - Ohio NANFA There will be photos of this outing available
soon!....

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