Partly Cloudy Skies, Surface temp around mid 70's. The water felt warm but temperature was unknown.
Planned this trip with the intention of going up river from the Eastern portion of Cagles Mill Lake to Cataract Falls on Mill Creek, which is one of the main feeder streams/ rivers for Cagles mill. We had planned to go upstream until reaching lower Cataract Falls, fish at the falls, then float back downstream fishing and perhaps stop at a sand bar for lunch. We checked the USGS sight at Cataract and found it to be flowing at 5 ft. and 150 cfs. The distance from our put in up to the lower falls was estimated to be around 3.5 miles, so about 7 miles round trip.
We put in at the public east boat ramp on Cagles Mill just before the highway 42 bridge and the town of Cunot. From there we paddled east. We had a hard time discerning where to go to reach the mouth of what we though would be the river. We decided that yielding right while going eastbound should put us on the river but unfortunately at the time was all lake.
At that point we realized that Cagles Mill Lake was flooded (probably not flood stage but nonetheless very high) and Mill Creek was "under water". The whole associated feeder stream valley was flooded. We continued on and paddled through many large thickets to finally arrive at the lower falls and the associated park.
The water of the lake was covering the lower falls (which has a drop of about 20ft.) to give you an idea of the height of the lake at the time. We could have gone upstream into the more narrow section of Mill Creek to the upper Cataract Falls but we would have to portage on some slippery rocks and we didn't want to upset our fishing gear nor bother the people who were fishing nearby from the banks.
After that we turned around, slowly paddled back to the Highway 42 bridge to attempt some fishing there. We did find the "river channel" on the way back but it was very hard to find and see with the lake at the height it was. We did shore up on the way back to eat a snack and stretch. The lakeside bank we stopped on looked pretty solid but upon getting out we found ourselves ankle deep in "quicksand like" mud.
Fishing that day wasn't great but we had the most luck around the Highway 42 bridge. Also the whole eastern portion of the lake from just west of the highway 42 bridge all the way east into the river is idle-zone/ no wake at least according to the DNR Lieber State Park map along with the Army Corp's Map. However we saw many boats disregarding this and speeding all the way up to the flooded falls. So be careful in that low profile canoe or kayak, especially when the water is up like it was.
One more thing is to check the dam information from the Army Corps of Engineers for lake height along with the USGS information for Mill Creek. We found just looking at the Mill Creek data was misleading to us.
Lieber S.R.A has full campground, hiking trails, and other facilities. Put-in and take-out was the public access boat ramp (free) just west of the Highway 46 bridge. Also there is a small park at the falls, not sure about facilities there though other than a $5 entrance fee.
Fishing license and DNR non-powered boat tag.
Can be accessed from multiple places but we found the easiest was from Highway 42 south of the town of Cunot.
Indiana DNR park map for Lieber SRA along with Google Earth/Maps. Possible to find a topographic map of Cataract Falls and Mill Creek on the internet as well.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water