Before the hog and chicken farms in northern Darke County got big, Jeff Schlecty would draw his bow and arrow, aim at a carp in the Wabash River and hope he didn't hit a small-mouth bass.
"There were so many nice bass, you really had to watch," Schlecty said.
If the 33-year-old Schlecty went fishing in the Wabash now, he likely wouldn't catch a single small-mouth - because there might not be any left.
Two Ohio EPA water-quality studies on the rivers, creeks and streams that feed the Wabash tell why small-mouth bass are vanishing.
"The water in those areas is not in good shape, and the primary cause of the (pollution) is not septic tanks, treatment plants or fertilizer - it's manure, mainly from large farms," said Robert Miltner, an aquatic biologist for the Ohio EPA. "The problems with manure and farms have been building for many years, and this confirmed what we believed all along. We didn't find a single small-mouth bass in the Wabash River."
The Wabash begins near New Weston, an hour's drive north of Dayton, and winds 475 miles through Ohio and Indiana before emptying into the Ohio River near Evansville. The Ohio portion of the river is the state's "most degraded watershed," according to the EPA report.