North Eel River in Indiana

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

This river is a scenic branch of the Wabash, that starts not far from Fort Wayne, and ends at the junction with the Wabash River near Logansport. The upper sections are good fishing waters for smallmouth bass, rock bass and
occasionally some catfish and bluegill. There are four major floats on this river.

1. South Whitley to Laketon.
2. Laketon to Stockdale.
3. Stockdale to Denver.
4. Denver to Logansport.

South Whitley to Laketon

This section is 20 miles, and takes 8 to 10 hours to cover. There are several portages or put ins on this section. 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 Hagen Memorial Park, which is located on Buckey St. west of St.Rd ,5 (State Street). About 1 hr. down stream is the town of Collamer. There is a portage on river left to get around the dam,or this can be used as a starting point. Parking and access is on the south side of river left. Another 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. downstream is the town of Liberty Mills. Portage around the dam here. River left is best. The dam is about 100 yards. past the iron bridge. Just south of town is a public fishing site with parking and a boat ramp.

From Liberty Mills to North Manchester is the next leg of the trip. Small dam here just past the railroad bridge, broken in the middle and you can portage around, or just lower the boat over in low water. Also at the dam in North Manchester is a good put-in/ take-out. There is parking.

Another 3hrs. brings you to Laketon. A public access site on the south east side of town with good parking and launching facilities.

No public campground on this float. For emergencies, doctors can be found at South Whitley and North Manchester while Wabash south of North Manchester has a Hospital.

Laketon to Stockdale

The second float on this river is an easy meandering float of 10 miles. If you start at Laketon, you will have a 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hour float. The river is wider at this point, so it is a good area for Bass and Panfish. You can float from Laketon to the Bear Grass Creek access point on Hwy. 15. Parking and ramp facilities are available at Bear Grass Creek. From Bear Grass Creek to Stockdale is the next section. It is wider and calmer through this section. You will find a picnic spot under the Roann Covered Bridge on the river right. Down stream is the Stockdale access site with good parking. If you are going on down stream you will have a 200 yd. portage around the Stockdale Dam (river left).

Stockdale to Denver

The river at the Stockdale access site is a very slow moving section. A 6 hour float on the average, even with added paddling power. A 200 yard portage to the downriver side of Stockdale Dam is required here.

Three junctions are found along this route for landing your canoe. The bridge at C.R. 500 E is a good access, the bridge at Chili is another, and a mile south of Denver the other. You will also meet the junction of Paw-Paw Creek just before C.R. 500E.

Fish the junctions here carefully, it has produced some fine bass and catfish.

Denver to Logansport

If you are a serious angler, this section deserves your attention. The Eel is a meandering stream from 20 to 100 feet across on this leg, and averages 5 feet in depth. It has boulder and rock bottom areas that give smallmouth and rock bass a good habitat in which to thrive. Some of the best fishing for those species in the state is found in this part of the Eel. Allow a full day for this 28 mile float.

The put-in is south of Denver. Take Meridian Street, then Meridian road south from St. Rd. 16 in Denver and go 1/2 mile to the bridge. The north east corner provides the best access.

Once in, you will drift for 1 1/2 hours until you come to the Mexico Dam, a portage point. Be aware: this can be a hazardous portage point if the water levels are high. In low water, you can portage left or center.

The next point of interest is the Gauging Station, about 5 hrs downriver from Denver. The access on this last section is at Spencer Park in Logansport. A good access facility there, with a boat ramp and parking.

The Eel is a good river for most moderately skilled canoeists. With the added fishing to be enjoyed, it is one of the best choices in northern Indiana.

Distance: Approximate length of river from bridge on Washington Road, south of Columbia City to Wabash River = 74 miles.

Miles between points:

  • Columbia City to South Whitley = 8.9 miles
  • South Whitley to Collamer Dam = 2.6 miles
  • Collamer Dam to Liberty Mills Dam = 6.2 miles
  • Liberty Mills Dam to N. Manchester Dam = 6.0 Miles
  • N.Manchester Dam to Laketon = 4.3 miles
  • N. Manchester Dam to St. Rt.15 = 6.0 miles
  • Laketon to Roann = 8.5 miles
  • St. Rt.15 to Roann = 4.3 miles
  • Roann to Denver = 14.4 miles
  • Denver to Wabash River = 23.1 miles

Other data:

  • Elevation 3 miles south of Columbia City = 790.0 ft.
  • Elevation at Wabash River = 589.0 ft
  • Total fall = 201.0 ft
  • Average fall per mile = 2.7 ft

Trip Details

  • Sport/Activity: Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location