SANDUSKY — If you live in Ohio and occasionally dream of an evening on Montana’s Madison River, waiting for a rainbow trout to rise and accept your deceptive dry fly offering, then you are about to experience a truly historic moment.
If you have wished for a predawn engagement on Michigan’s Au Sable, with the mist shrouding the stream in a ghost-like veil, and browns popping all around you but still invisible in the thin light, then you are about to witness a trout fisherman’s Christmas in mid-November.
You see, Ohio has extremely limited trout fishing opportunities, so the anglers in the Buckeye State have to spend some time in whimsical thought, imagining what distant places might offer. They might expect to see access or a piece of one of Ohio’s few trout streams go up for sale once in a century. Maybe, once in a generation.
But two separate sections of Ohio trout stream, going to the highest bidder, within a week’s time — that’s well beyond the fantasies of any area trout fisherman.
This double harmonic convergence for trout anglers is taking place along Cold Creek, the spring-fed waterway that drains a number of the blue hole aquifers in this area on its short run to Sandusky Bay. These springs provide the cold, clean water that trout need.
First, the Castalia Farms corporate retreat owned by Owens-Illinois, with its 4,400 feet of trout stream, is scheduled to be sold to the highest bidder on Friday. Then, the Millsite Trout & Gun Club, just down Cold Creek from Castalia Farms, hits the auction block six days later.
Millsite, with 3,800 feet of trout stream, was originally another O-I property, but it was owned most recently by developer Larry Dillin, and is now headed for a court-ordered bankruptcy sale.
Michael Murray, who is handling the sale for the Pamela K. Rose Auction Co. of Maumee, said in his four-plus decades of dealing with real estate, this is his first trout stream.
“This is a completely unique property, and in all my years in this business, I’ve never had an opportunity to do something like this,” Murray said. “Buying a trout stream in Ohio — I’d say that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone.”
The Millsite Trout & Gun Club property is a little more than 20 acres, with a 1920’s era lodge complete with a large meeting room, game room, a commercial kitchen, and five bedrooms. The parcel also includes a 19th century, six-bedroom farmhouse with modern utilities.
There is a trap and skeet range and a large stone patio and fire pit, but it is the trout stream that makes the facility on Heywood Road so rare.
Lake Erie has its world class walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass fishery, but Cold Creek has brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout, in numbers.
“As it moves through the property, that stream is very active,” Murray said. “The water is so clear and just the right temperature for trout, so there’s a lot of fish in there. And the stream just has a lot of character too.”
Murray said the initial open house on Saturday generated quite of bit of interest in the property, which is essentially T-shaped, with a long driveway off Heywood Road connecting to the main grounds and the stream, which runs parallel to Homegardner Road. Additional open house sessions are scheduled for Thursday and Friday afternoon, with a two-hour preview period slated for Nov. 21 prior to the 11 a.m. auction that day. The minimum bid for the Millsite property has been set at $600,000, and there will be online bidding available.
The Millsite corporate retreat was once owned by J. Preston Levis, the cousin of former O-I president William E. Levis, and eventually by O-I. It was used to entertain O-I business clients. Once the Millsite property was sold in 2002, it was periodically leased to O-I and other companies for meetings and getaways.
Murray said the auction of the Millsite property has been advertised nationally in the Wall Street Journal and marketed in the Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus areas. He said the property could remain a corporate meeting place, be turned into a private club, or be used as a banquet hall, a trout fishing themed bed & breakfast, or as a destination get-away.
“The place is so unique that there are a lot of options when you look at potential uses. You just put it out there and see what happens,” he said. “Auctions do very well for properties such as this — properties that are just so rare. An auction is the best way to handle something as unique as a place with its own trout stream.”