Bass Island

*Note: This trip was originally scheduled for Sunday June 30, 2019 but was canceled due to high water. So we are going to give it another try on Sunday July 14th. Below is the original article. Nothing has changed other than the date.

Join us for this unique field trip that has become an annual event since 2014. The great majority of our field trips focus on birds, botany, butterflies and other easy (OK, pretty easy) to see aspects of natural history. Fish don’t get a lot of attention in this region, and even anglers pay little attention to the small fishes found in our local rivers and streams (the subject of this field trip). It doesn’t take a doctorial degree to realize the reason for that; it’s just hard to see them down in their watery world.

So what do you do if you want to study them? You catch em’! And that’s exactly what our trip leader Bill Zimmerman plans to do on this field trip, which not only sounds really interesting, but it also sounds like a lot of fun. Bill has now led this popular field trip for us four times, and always with great success. Bill has extensive interests in nature and is very knowledgeable and skilled on a number of natural history subjects including birds and insects. But Bill is also a fish enthusiast, from the largest to the smallest species, and is skilled at fish identification much the same as a birder is into bird identification.

On this field trip, Bill, his son Billy and maybe a couple of his like-minded buddies, are going to show us how to catch, identify and release fishes and other aquatic species from the Little Miami River. The species they are after include a variety of minnows, chubs, darters, madtoms, sunfishes, shiners, dace, stonerollers, suckers and the fry of larger species. They also invariably catch a few other aquatic species along the way such as reptiles, amphibians, crayfish, hellgrammites and other invertebrates. When I said “show us” I literally mean it. Bill will equip anyone willing with what they need to catch fish and they can then wade into the river, side-byside with Bill and crew trying their luck.

The location for this trip is Bass Island, a Hamilton County Park property situated along the south/ east bank of the Little Miami River just below the Newtown Bridge (at US 50). The Little Miami River is very shallow here and has extensive exposed sand and gravel bars that extend into the river. Bill will set up shop here. His equipment will consist of an assortment of dip nets, seining nets, buckets and a couple of display tanks to, as Bill told me, “be sure everyone can get a good look at whatever we find”. Bill and his crew will know what everything is, but a field guide to fishes will be at hand as well. On the 2016 trip, Bill and crew amazed us by collecting 16 different species of fishes and a number of other aquatic animals that they placed in temporary aquariums’ so everyone could get good looks and take great pictures. All of these are released unharmed.

Folks should wear clothes that they can wade in and some old tennis shoes or water shoes. Bill says sandals tend to fill up with gravel pretty quick. Supervised kids are welcome and encouraged. A fair warning here, there could be some slippery algae covered rocks in the water and a slippery spot or two along the banks down to the river. The trip is planned for at least two hours and Bill says they will probably stay longer if folks want to. The site is conveniently located. Bass Island is also a trailhead for the Loveland bike trail and there isa sizable parking lot about 200 yards from the river. But it’s a popular spot and the lot does get crowded at times. There are restroom facilities at the parking lot. There are also lots of businesses nearby. Because it is a Great Parks property, a Motor Vehicle Permit is required on each vehicle (resident’s $10 annual, $5 daily, and nonresidents $15 annual. $8 daily). So come and join us for what should be a highly entertaining field trip at a pleasant time of the year, learn about our native fishes, take some pictures of the specimens captured before they’re released and have some fun while you’re at it. Feel free to contact Bill if you have any questions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the nature of this field trip, heavy rainfall, flooding or high water levels will cancel the trip. If you have any doubts at the time, contact Bill.

Directions to Bass Island: From Wooster Pike (U.S. Rt. 50) in Mariemont go east and turn right onto Newtown Road. Go across the Little Miami Bridge to the Bass Island parking lot on the right, just about 200 yards past the bridge. From I-275 & Rt. 32 (Eastgate) follow Rt. 32 west for 4.7 miles and turn right onto Newtown Road. Go about .9 miles to the Bass Island Parking lot on your left, about 200 yards before the Little Miami Bridge. http://greatparks. org/parks/little-miami-golf-center.

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