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NFC: Collecting after the Rain

I had had just about enough of this cold winter, so I
decided to tromp around in one of my favorite areas
over the weekend.  Tennessee and Kentucky had a
torrential rainstorm on Thursday/Friday, but I thought
I would see what I could find in the smaller streams
anyway.  It was in the low 20s when I went out 
Saturday morning and drove from Nashville to Trammel's
Fork to find the stream well out of its banks covering
my favorite riffles and springs.  I saw two small
streams that flow into Trammel's Fork of the Barren
River with water gushing through them that had been
dry when I had been there last summer.  I found fish
in the rivulets.  I caught baskets full of blacknose
dace which I promptly threw back as well as bluntnose
shiners and fathead minnows.  I worked downstream and
came to a section that had watercress growing along
the margins and a scooped out area beneath a beech
tree.  I caught the delightful Barrens River form of
Southern Red Belly Dace, a pair of Orangethroat
Darters, Northern Studfish, Splendid Darters
(Etheostoma barrenense, Tennessee Shiners, Creek
Chubs, and a few other shiners and minnows I didn't
try to ID.  

Since I only had one splendid darters and I wanted a
few more I decided to try a wide spot in Trammel's
Fork where the water was 2 ft or less deep.  I worked
along the margins of the stream in the grass where
there was minimal current and I collected two more
splendid shiners, a few sculpins and what looks like a
brindled madtom though it could be another species,
the madtom was only 3/4 of an inch.

As I got out I was greeted by the farmer and his dog. 
He was out walking his property to see if any fences
had washed away.  He indicated the stream had been
four feet higher only the day before.  I showed him
the fish I had caught and he was astounded by the
colors of the darters. 

I drove down the road and stopped at a church to get
some more water.  I took my dipnet with me and I am
glad I did as I caught more orangethroat darters and
about a dozen Barrens River form of SRBD.  I wanted to
take a picture of the watercress growing in the bottom
of the stream... as I crouched over to get closer I
kept thinking I had a little more room to crouch when
I dunked my butt in the cold water (I had thigh high
waders on.  I made the drive back to Nashville with
wet trousers and quite a few representatives of the
fish in Trammmel's Fork.  The one I didn't find and I
wanted was the Orangefin Darter, I will have another
shot later this spring.

Sunday, I drove to the Red River(west cumberland
drainage) and found the stream wadeable in the head
water region in Northern Tennessee.  I climbed down
the bank and worked a swollen riffle with a stiff
current and caught some redline darters (Etheostoma
rufiliniatum).  I also caught some rainbow darters
that reminded me of the type I caught in the Ozarks
last summer, and I caught Etheostoma atripinne in the
brush along the banks and Etheostoma squamiceps. Along
the banks I caught more Northern Studfish.  In the
swiftest part of the stream I found sculpins.  

I took some photographs and went to put the fish away.
 As I pulled back the seat to put the bucket in the
cab I saw that one of my buckets from saturday had
fallen over.  I quickly took off the top and I saw it
was empty of water, but the fish were still inside.  I
took the lid off the other bucket and I emptied the 
fish into the other container to find that all of them
were still alive and eventually all of them swam
happily in the bucket. 

I made the five hour drive home and put the fish up
taking care to acclimate them properly over night .  I
had zero losses even with the empty bucket incident.


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