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NFC: Collecting Report: Upper Green River, KY Part one

   The morning began like most have this year.  Warm, bright and not a
cloud in the sky.  I packed the car and left by late morning with the
temps pleasantly in the 70's. I was wondering what I would find.
September has been the driest month on record so far.  We have had about
a millimeter of rain which translates to .02 inches.  I guess someone
must have spit on the rain gauge because I don't remember it raining at
all.  The trip to Lexington, KY was uneventful and a short ride around
Lexington to route 68 put me into the afternoon.  Somewhere around
Harrodsburg I stopped in the biggest Big Lots I have ever seen....time
to stock up on drinks.   Then as I took the by-pass around Danville I
stopped in the Wal-Mart to pick up my three day fishing license.  Unlike
the Walmarts in Cincinnati, this one had a fully stocked food section.
I had to remind myself that I was here to fish not to look at food.  I
got my license and a 6 volt lantern battery for my mino-mizer and I was
off on my last leg to Casey County. 

I  drove through Liberty and on to my collecting locality.  I had been
there only a month earlier and, of course, there was even less water in
the stream bed this time. What had been minimal flow was now no flow
whatsoever!!!!  I had to walk another mile downstream to find the tiniest
hint of a rivulet.  I wanted to return to the site because a raccoon had
gotten into my fishroom and ate almost all of my Upper Green River

I drove the car right down onto the stream bed.  There was no water and
it was the perfect gravel drive.  Chyrt pebbles up to about 2 inches in 
major length.  I stuck my dipnet into the puddles.   Very young Fundulus
catenatus were mixed in with tennessee shiners, fantail darters, rainbow
darters, banded and greensides.  After collecting for sometime I found my
first Ky Snubnose.  All in all I found only four snubnoses this time.
There was also a variety of minnows, chubs and shiners.  I was able to
differentiate three different types of crayfish.

I walked downstream and I came to an area strewn with some larger rocks
and stones.   Working my way through these I came up with my first
orangefin darters.  Under one rock I found a Percina caprodes, a log
perch! Another snubnose wandered into my dipnet.  I came to an area
where the stream bottom was solid bedrock worn with deep grooves.  At
the bank a spring added water the stream at the base of a cliff . I
found a number of juvenile longears here as well as some larger
catenatus and some ,yeah you guessed it, damnbusia!!!  Once caught never
returned applies to damnbusias and up onto the bank they went!

There was a sudden crash in the brush and a deer took off deeper into
the brush.  

Farther down stream the solid bedrock gave way to small stones again and
more of the same fish.  It was about 5 pm at that point and I decided to
work my way back to the car.  When I got there I put the fish in my
special holding bucket, a five gallon pail with hundreds of 1/8 in holes
drilled through the side. The holes allow for water to flow through the
bucket, unfortunately there wasn't any flow here. 

I collected two different species of madtoms which I need to spend some
time id'ing.

A side stream enters Trace creek.  It is also called Trace Creek, why I
have no idea.  I walked up the stream bed to a long narrow puddle.
Thousands of fish fled my approach with my dipnet.  I placed the dipnet
into the water and watched as fish fled mostly around it. All of a
sudden I saw the tell tale flight of catenatus.  All in all I caught
about a half dozen mature catenatus. Those of you who have tried to
collect mature catenatus with a dipnet can appreciate the difficulty of
catching these very fast elusive fish with such a small net. 

I decided these rocks would be good for a minnow spawning tank.  I
searched for a suitable steering rock as explained by Cliff Zoller in
his article on spawing minnows and darters. I collected a few. 

It was too late in the day to go to Barren River habitat so the splendid
darter will have to await another trip.  

But there was time to sample the Green River.   I went to an oxbow and
took a sprig of hornwort.  Nuphar species were in abundance.   I stepped
into the water and sank to my knees immediately...the bottom was all
silt.  I spied where some concrete came to the edge of the water ...so I
stood there.... crack the concrete broke and I was knee deep in water .
I sat on the remaining concrete shelf and washed the muck off legs and
shoes.  I decided against trying to collect any fish  in the oxbow.

I drove back to Liberty and headed west on route 70.  Suddenly, I was
stuck in a monumental traffic jam.  Liberty was in the midst of its
annual Apple Festival where they have the worlds largest apple pie and
enough people to eat it!  i decided to turn around and go upstream on
the Green River.  By the old waste water treatment plant...not in use....
I was able to easily access the river.  The river was reduced to a series
of very large shallow pools.  Riffles only occurred where the pools were
connected by water about 2 to 3 feet in width.   This is highly unusual
for a river this size but then its an unusual year.  I caught the same
species as in the smaller tributary but I also caught some spotfin
shiners.   I only had time to collect for about 15 minutes before I had
to leave.  Etheostoma tippecanoe is also known from the Upper Green
River though I haven't found it but the substrate is correct for this

A full list of fish collected and water parameters will follow in part