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Lake Odessa by Moonlight or How We Were Attacked by Giant Carp September 7, 2009

Posted by Wapello Warbler in Environment, Nature.
Tags: , , ,

The Beautiful and Vivacious One loves canoeing.  So Friday evening I took her to the conservation board’s moonlight paddle at Lake Odessa.  The two of us joined about 25 others at Shaffer’s Access for a two hour trip.  A full moon lit the way.

Lake Odessa is unique.  It was created when the locks and dams along the Mississippi were built and it consists of a main lake and miles of side channels and mud-flats that form an ever-changing maze.

The lake is separated from the Mississippi by levees and the water levels in the lake are controlled to mimic the rise and fall of water in the sloughs and low lying ponds along the river bottoms. The idea is to replace some of the habitat that was lost due to the levees and dams along the Mississippi River and provide natural food for the water fowl that fly the Mississippi corridor every fall.

After putting in, our group struck off across the lake toward a lateral ditch that the hunters use to get back into the marshes and pools frequented by migrating ducks and geese.  The ditch is narrow and the woods on either side were full of all manner of night singers.  There are also beaver in the area.  They and things unseen splashed into the water ahead of us.

This time of year the water levels in the lake are quite low.  The main lake was only three feet deep.  The pool at the end of the lateral ditch was barely deep enough for a canoe.

That’s what disturbed the carp.  You see, they were not expecting us.  When we entered the pool with glow sticks on the bow and stern, they came round to see if we might be a swarm of fireflies suitable for dinner.  Instead of getting their supper, they found themselves pinched between the keel of the canoe and the bottom of the lake.  The resulting collision between fish and boat was startling and occasionally strong enough to make us wonder if they might be able to tip us.

The geese weren’t happy to see us in the pool, either.  As we made our way toward them they rustled their wings and honked to warn us away.  You’ve probably heard geese calling to one another as they fly overheard.  The calls that we heard were spookier and more intense. There must have been several flocks spending the night in the pool.

The water levels on the other side of the pool were too low to leave without carrying the canoes, so we made our way back to the main lake and our group spread out.

Some made their way slowly and quietly down the shore, scanning  for wildlife with their flashlights.  Occasionally, they’d scare up a heron or other shore bird and we’d see it’s shadowy form climb into the sky.

The BVO and I were out a little farther and moving faster when we came across a beaver making his way down the lake.  We noticed his wake first and then, as we got closer, we saw his head and back moving across the top of the water.  When we got too close he raised his flat tail and slapped the water loudly before disappearing below the surface.

Soon it was time to turn around and make our way back to the ramp. It had been an enjoyable evening full of little adventures and the fun of cruising quietly over calm water by the light of the moon.

Related Posts

Day Trips for Canoes and Kayaks

Canoe the Iowa


Louisa County Conservation Board

Naturally Louisa

Odessa Water Trail



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[…] to take a vacation to go hunting. A day off will do. I’ve even known some to schlep off to the lake before or after […]

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[…] There’s another Full Moon Paddle April 30th. See the Naturally Louisa website for […]

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[…] Lake Odessa by Moonlight or How We Were Attacked By Giant Carp […]

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