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The Eel in northern Indiana is a quiet, scenic river flowing 110 miles through farmland and narrow woods. Rising as a shallow stream north of Fort Wayne, it flows southwest to feed the Wabash at Logansport. Numerous mills once dotted the Eel below South Whitley. Along most of its path the banks are lined with thick vegetation and trees such as oaks, ashes, cottonwood and maples bordering farms which occasionally encroach to the river bank. Log jams occur less frequently along the canoeable sections than on most Indiana rivers but some unmarked dams present a hazard for the unwary. Fishing is very good, yielding rock bass and smallmouth bass with channel catfish, bluegill, and red horse sucker further downstream. Wildlife include wood ducks, great blue heron, kingfishers and sandpipers. Four one-day trips are outlined below, but the existence of several access points in each section as noted allows the flexibility of longer or shorter floats at your discretion.
This 20-mile, eight-hour section averages 75 feet in width and flows slowly having some rocky riffles. There is a noticeable pollution odor in a few areas and some debris in the water and along the banks. the put-in site is at the South Whitley City Park, one block east of the main street. Another public access is located in Gale Hagan Memorial Park which is on Buckey Street, west of State Road 5 (State Street). There is a 100 yard portage to the left at the Collamer Dam about 1 hour downstream. Another short portage is necessary around the dam near Liberty Mills about 3 1/2 hours from the put-in; the right side is recommended. The public fishing site south of Liberty Mills can be used as an easy alternative access site. At North Manchester you will find a small dam, which the canoe can be lowered over in low water. Then at Laketon another public access site is the take-out having good parking and launching facilities.
The car shuttle up to South Whitley should go north 2 miles to State Road 114. Turning Right, go east 1 1/2 miles to State Road 13 then left (north) 7 miles to State Road 14. South Whitley and the put-in are 6 miles east on State Road 14. Recreation facilities such as tennis and basketball are available at the put-in site. There is no public campground in the immediate vicinity of this float. For emergencies, doctors can be found at South Whitley and North Manchester while Wabash south of North Manchester has a hospital.
This section provides a slow and meandering float. The put-in is at the Laketon Public Access Site as described above. Continuing downstream for 10 miles, about 5 1/2 hours, the float passes a public fishing site east of State Highway 15 about three hours from Laketon which can be used as an alternative access site. Fishing in the river is good and the whole section is relatively odor and debris-free and quiet. The take-out is located at the Stockdale Public Access Site on the east edge of town. The car shuttle from Stockdale should go east on State Road 16 about 6 miles to Wabash County Road 200W, then left (north) 4 miles to the river and the put-in site at Laketon. Doctors can be found at Roann and North Manchester; Wabash has the closest hospital.
This section flows very slow, less than 1/2 mile per hour at moderately low water levels. Little development other than agricultural is evident on the 12-mile, 6-hour trip. The put-in site for this section is the same as the take-out in the previous section, the Stockdale Public Access Site on State Road 16, except that it is necessary to carry about 200 yards downstream around the Stockdale Dam. The confluence with Paw Paw Creek is about 4 1/2 hours downstream. At the Chili Dam it is necessary to get out and maneuver the canoe around the dam but portaging is not necessary except in high water.
The take-out point is about 1 mile south of Denver. Take Meridian Street in Denver then proceed south about 1/2 mile on Meridian Road to the bridge over the Eel. The northeast corner provides access to the river. The car shuttle moves north back to Denver then east on State Road 16 to Stockton and the put-in site.
The last section of the Eel is a meandering stream 20 to 100 feet wide and up to 5 feet deep with a rock boulder bottom. The river is moderately clear and swift at a medium water level, including many riffles and pools along the 28-mile, 8 hour trip. This stretch of the river provides some of the best stream fishing in Indiana.
The put-in is south of Denver. Take Meridian Street, then Meridian Road south from State Road 16 in Denver and go 1/2 mile to the bridge. The northeast corner provides the best access. The dam at Mexico 1 1/2 hours downstream may prove hazardous at higher water levels and should be navigated with considerable caution. During low water one can pass through the center, or portage left. The gaging station at Adamsboro is about five hours downstream from Denver.
The take-out is at Spencer Park in Logansport providing easy access at a launching ramp and parking for several cars. The best route for the car shuttle is west on High Street approximately 1/2 mile to East Rose Lawn Drive then south to U.S. 24. Turn left and head east to U.S. 31 then north to State Road 16. Turn right on State Road 16 and head east to Denver. Turn right in town on Meridian Street, the Meridian Road and go south 1/2 mile to the river and put-in site. Doctors and hospitals are available in Peru and Logansport.