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NFC: Missouri Collecting Trip

     You know that sounds very official for what it really was.  There were 
five of us, one dip net, one seine, and one white bucket.  It was a party 
bent on collecting some fish, even if I was the only one who knew it.  As 
usual my wife, and her two brothers (15 and 12) got roped into going, and as 
an extra benefit a friend of the youngest brother came along.
     The stream of choice is a springfed stream about 2 miles from the house 
where it passes under a bridge on a dirt road.  It is a local hangout for 
the kids and on the weekends sees it fair shair of alcohol and backseats.  
It is a wonderful collection of small swift riffles and belly deep pools.  
When the kids aren't playing too rough up stream you can see all the way to 
the bottom, no matter where you look.  It flows through pasture land and 
light forests along most of its course, and believe it or not, felt 
refreshingly cool today. (we hit 80 degrees here today)
     When we got there it we were met by some of the younger local boys who 
just knew there weren't any fish in this stream.  It was a real pleasure to 
prove them wrong, and it was a great thrill to see them eyeball a sculpin 
and ask if it was really a fish.  The young boys weren't able to stay long, 
but they got to see some neat fish before they had to leave.
     All in all, I thought today was one of our most successful collecting 
trips for the amount of time we spent collecting, about 45 minutes.  We 
collected at least two species of shiner, my field identification of shiners 
is a lot rusty, so don't ask me which.  We collected southern redbelly dace, 
though no breeding colors were showing so it wasn't as exciting as it could 
have been.  We collected central stonerollers, many of them so fat with eggs 
I was afraid to remove them from the net.  We collected creek chubs, both 
the creek chubs and stonerollers were simply huge and came out of the belly 
deep pools.  We collected a couple sculpins, Ozark possibly, it has been a 
while since I have had to tell them apart and my "Fishes of Missouri" is not 
handy.  We collected three species of darter.  Rainbow darters were nicely 
in color for us, and I have collected them here before.  The females were 
almost all heavy with eggs.  We also managed to scoop up two fantail darters 
who were looking very nice in there sleek nondescript way.  I also found one 
darter that I am at a lose for a name on, possibly E. zonatum, but again I 
will need to get to my books for a positive ID.  Ahh, but you are saying, 
that isn't that big a deal, those are all relatively common fish. Well, I 
would be pleased to death to catch the fish I did any day, but there was one 
fish that made my day today.  While dragging a deeper pool with some tree 
roots in it, we came up with a very nice littler treasure.  At first glance 
in the net I thought we had brought up a particularly large stoneroller, but 
then it rolled onto its back, and I caught my breath. It was a white sucker. 
  My personal experience is that suckers just aren't caught in a net like 
that, so I was very suprised to find him there.  I don't know how many times 
I have seen northern hog suckers outswim and evade nets.  Wow, what a 
     Along the lines of nonfish finds we also saw spring peepers, and many 
nice invertebrates including crayfish, helgramites (not sure on the spelling 
there), mayfly larvae, caddisfly larvae, and a large water beetle.  I was 
dissappointed in not seeing any snakes, but I can wait a couple weeks to see 
those still.
     I couldn't wait to share this trip with all of you, and I hope all of 
you get the chance to have this trip of your own soon this spring.  If you 
haven't already that is.  I would like to encourage all of you to share 
collecting trips with us all also.

Kevin Mouser
Stella, Mo.

ps.  Did I mention that I slipped on a large flat rock and fell during this 
collection trip?  What is a collection trip without a good bath?

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