Location & Description
The Pipe Creek Wildlife Area is located within the city limits of Sandusky, behind the Big Island water treatment facility. It overlooks Sandusky Bay. The area can be reached by following U.S. Route 6 to Sandusky, turn north onto Cedar Point Causeway, then east onto River Avenue; or follow State Route 4 to Sandusky, turn northeast onto Monroe Street, then east onto First Street, then south onto F Street. The 97-acre area is situated on the former Big Island Wetland Complex on the southern shore of Sandusky Bay. Most of the area is a diked marsh, with the remaining acreage comprising flat-topped dikes. The marsh areas are shallow, varying from one to three feet in depth, with the exception of channels up to eight feet in depth which were created for efficient water level control of the area.
History & Purpose
Control and management of the Pipe Creek Wildlife Area was assumed by the Division of Wildlife in November 1991. The area originally was known as the Big Island Wetlands, and was developed to mitigate for the loss of adjacent wetlands by private developers. The diked marsh is surrounded on three sides by Sandusky Bay, and has been renovated and repaired to allow for proper management of the marsh units. The management of Pipe Creek will include seasonally flooding three of the four units on a rotational basis. The fourth unit will be retained as an open water unit. A new pumping system was installed to better facilitate the moist soil management of the area.
This area is managed principally for wetland wildlife. Wildlife found on the area include puddle ducks, common snipe, sora and Virginia rail and Canada geese. Other species that can be seasonally observed are bald eagles, common tern, Caspian tern, godwits, sandpipers, and various other wetland-dependent species. Channel catfish and bullheads are the most sought-after and prevalent of the game and food fishes. These can be taken almost anytime of the year, but channels are caught in larger numbers from late May to July along the outer dikes in Sandusky Bay. Bullhead fishing is outstanding during April, and crappie fishing is good in April and May. Carp are also taken frequently.
Special waterfowl hunting rules have been established for Pipe Creek. Individuals interested in waterfowl hunting will be required to attend an annual drawing for available waterfowl hunting dates. Details about this drawing can be obtained from the Wildlife District Two Office. Waterfowl are extremely wary, and their sight and hearing are very keen. Therefore, concealment is extremely important. The hunter should not wear bright or shiny clothes, or expose his or her face. The use of decoys and duck calls will also generally help. Hunters are expected to bring a portable blind or use natural vegetation as concealment. No permanent blinds are available, and no other facilities are present. “Sky busting” is discouraged because it spoils the hunt for everyone, and the chance for a good, clean kill is diminished. The shooter should hold his or her fire until ducks or geese are within 30 yards. No other type of hunting is permitted on the Pipe Creek Wildlife Area. Since most of the wildlife area is bordered by Sandusky Bay, much of the riprapped dikes are available for bank fishing; however, pay attention to all signs on the area. Pipe Creek has a common tern nesting colony which is protected from disturbance. These areas will have signs posted that prohibit entry. Trapping is not permitted during the legal waterfowl season. It is, however, permitted at any time the waterfowl season is closed and the furbearer season is open. Good viewing opportunities for watching wildlife are available on the Pipe Creek Wildlife Area. The flat-topped dikes are 8-l0 feet in elevation above the water level of the marsh and Sandusky Bay. Wildlife that may be seen are bald eagles, various shorebirds and waterfowl, muskrats and other wetland-dependent species that use Ohio as part of their home territory. A nesting colony of common terns is also present on the area. Common terns are listed as an Ohio endangered species, and are protected during their nesting season in the spring and summer. As a result, special regulations to protect this species are enforced. Special signs are posted that may restrict entry during specific seasons.