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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2011 > Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2011 - Featured Stories Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2011 - Featured Stories

Director's Column
Trailing
Landing the big one
Farmland to wetland

Director’s Column

Heart is where the heat is ... and the fish bite
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Summer days remind me of the family spring break trip to Florida this past March.

Hot and dry ... and a long way from my Clay County home.

We drove 18 hours straight to reach Siesta Key, where we were treated to daily temperatures in the 80s and cloudless blue skies.

Siesta Key is a barrier island off the west coast of Florida near Sarasota. I’m told that except for a few bold entrepreneurs the place was pretty much infested with snakes, mosquitoes and jungle-like vegetation until a hotel opened in the early 1900s and began attracting Hollywood stars.

Today, the island is known for its beaches and saltwater fishing.

Midweek, my son Kade and I fished Sarasota Bay and Longboat Key with my friend Dave Boor of Brazil, his son Dylan, and Bob Sawtelle. For those who don’t know Bob, he’s the very capable property manager of O’Bannon Woods State Park in southern Indiana, at least when he’s not working a drift boat for smallmouth bass on the Blue River or fishing in Florida.

Concentrating on shallow grassy flats, we fished that day for Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and sea trout. We caught a few nice ones, but the experience of being on the crystal clear water in perfect weather made up for what we didn’t catch. It was memorable.

With sunshine and sandy beaches in the rearview mirror, we began the long drive north a few days later. The weather got progressively worse as we neared the Ohio River, and it was snowing so hard when we crossed into Indiana that we almost had to pull over.

Talk about climate change.

Despite the weather flip flop, it was nice getting back to Indiana. Knowing the snow wouldn’t last made for a warm homecoming.

Spring followed, then summer. And here we are.

Vacations to tourist destinations like Siesta Key are a nice change of pace, but I think it’s still hard to beat what we have in Indiana in the way of state parks, forests, nature preserves, lakes, rivers and ponds.

Home really is where the heart is.

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Trailing

Fern Cliff Nature Preserve
Steep in Putnam County...
By Erin Hiatt

Fern Cliff Nature Preserve in Putnam County is steep and forested, with sandstone cliffs and lush ravines. Its unique vegetation makes the preserve a botanists’ paradise.In the late 1800s, Fern Cliff was a popular getaway. Excursion trains ran people there from Terre Haute and Indianapolis to witness the natural beauty.

Visitors today may still hear freight trains passing on a nearby track.

The area has passed through many hands during the last two centuries, but the delicate plant life, its primary feature, has endured.

The preserve’s unassuming trail starts in typical Indiana style with the hum of insects, chirping of birds and occasional tangle in a spider web. The trail is relatively short, about a half-mile. Despite the mundane start, this is no ordinary path.

Fern Cliff Nature Preserve in Putnam County is steep and forested, with sandstone cliffs and lush ravines. Its unique vegetation makes the preserve a botanists’ paradise.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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Landing the big one

Indiana anglers put their names in the record book
By Ben Shadley

Lindsey Fleshood’s angling achievements include not only this record shortnose gar but also the longest fish caught in the state in 2010 for two other species.The DNR has kept tabs on the largest fish of various species caught in the state’s lakes, rivers and streams for 48 years. Today’s Indiana Record Fish Program recognizes 50 species from a 3½-ounce flier to a 104-pound blue catfish.

“The purpose of the Record Fish Program is to recognize the biggest fish for that species caught in Indiana, ever, period, since it’s been recorded,” said Jamie Smyth, the program’s administrator in the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Only one record, a freshwater drum caught by Garland Fellers, still stands from the program’s inaugural year, 1963. Another record, for hybrid striped bass, has been set more than 20 times since established in 1985.

Some anglers luck into catching a record; others put in nearly a lifetime of pursuit. Either way, all have to follow the rules to make the list. Once an angler has landed the big one, getting into the record book is easy—if you carefully follow the process to ensure the catch is ruled legitimate.

Lindsey Fleshood’s angling achievements include not only this record shortnose gar but also the longest fish caught in the state in 2010 for two other species.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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Farmland to wetland

Swampbusting back to what was
By Ken Brunswick

With the draining of Limberlost Swamp and Loblolly Marsh in the early 1900s, every farmer envisioned green fields of corn growing in the rich, black soils of the former wetlands. A writer even predicted Jay County would become one of the best agricultural areas in Indiana. Seventy years later, one of the landowners called his parcel “the armpit of Jackson Township.”

Restoration of wetlands from farmland begins for this field with the removal of drainage tile and construction of a berm to protect county roads from flooding. This acreage will be part of Limberlost Swamp in Jay County.As difficult as it was to drain Limberlost and Loblolly a century ago, it was harder to keep floodwaters from destroying the fields of corn and soybeans before harvest. Lost crops were my first indication in fall 1975 that there was something different about the Loblolly area.

When my family moved to Jay County in February 1976 and began living on our farm a quarter-mile south of the area, everything appeared normal at first.

In April, after an all-night rain, I looked out my kitchen window to the northwest and saw a large body of water. To the northeast, I saw more water. Under it was thousands of acres of cropland.

As a farmer, I thanked God I didn’t own any of it.

My neighbors went about business as usual that day. I toured the area, innocently thrilled with the water. Ever since my youth, I loved seeing water in fields after a rain. Over the next few years, I watched my neighbors’ crops drown some years, followed by a bumper season the next.

In 1979, we rented 40 acres from a neighbor north of Loblolly. My real Limberlost education began.

Restoration of wetlands from farmland begins for this field with the removal of drainage tile and construction of a berm to protect county roads from flooding. This acreage will be part of Limberlost Swamp in Jay County.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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