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RE: NFC: Colecting trip

I returned from my collecting trip on the upper Black River and it was
somewhat disappointing.  But perhaps it was because my hopes were too high.
A *prolonged* dry spell led me to expect isolated pools crammed with fish (I
love to go fishing during droughts since it makes the fish finding chore so
much easier.)

Anyway, on to some specifics.

The water was damn cold.  It was bone numbing cold.  I didn't bring a
thermometer, but I would guess water temps were about 50.  The water was
alkaline (7.8) and soft (4 degree KH).  My wife and I collected from 5
sites.  A couple were in shallow pools before the riffles, one right in the
swift water of the riffles, one in front of a beaver dam (those busy beavers
built quite a structure and created the deepest water I could access) and
one site below the beaver dam which was deep and had been quite vegitation
choked before the fall put the kai-bash on the plant life.

In the areas with current (all except that last site) Ozark minnows (Diona
nubila) and Bleeding Shiners (Notropus zonatus) were thick.  There was not
even a need for a seine here as even a small dip net worked well.  All I had
to do was shuffle my feet and the minnows swarmed around the debris field I
kicked up and they were oblivious to the net.  

Rock flipping produced some greenside darters (Etheostoma blenniodes) which
I didn't keep and a couple of beautiful Rainbow Darters (Etheostoma
caeruleum) that my wife wanted me to keep.  So after quarantine, I'll set
them up by themselves in a 10 gallon tank and see what I can do.

Disappointment was the key word for all that rock flipping in that bone
numbing water.  (Waders work wonders for the feet, they do nothing for the
hands.)  Not a madtom was found.  Since the night was moonless (I don't have
one of those head mounted lanters) and cold I had no desire to try for them
at night.  A far better idea was to jump into our zip together sleeping bags
and keep warm.

We did some seining and I got a couple of small bleeders, but the rest were
large size adults.  Also netted was the smallest smallmouth bass I've ever
seen at less than 2".  A couple of so far unidentified brownish green chubs
were also collected.

The next day we searched downstream and found the beaver dam and the only
area that wasn't shallow rock filled riffles.  It looked like prime area to
get some Northern Studfish and some Longear Sunnies.

The first seine got nothing.  So did the 2nd.  The third run (and by now we
had gone over every inch of this hole) produced one studfish about 4 inches
long.  (And a male.)  We tried a few more times and nothing else could be
had.  But I was excited to get at least one species I really wanted.

The last collecting effort before we left was at the campsite.  A half dozen
persimmon trees were heavily laden with fruit.  We got a couple gallons or
so of those and I was promised a persimmon pie for my effort. (Collecting
them's the easy part, separating the pulp from the seeds is where the real
work comes in.)

The fish were packed and brought home.  I tried to be very gradual in the
acclimation process to my very hard and alkaline water.  One small Ozark
Minnow is the only death so far.  The Ozark minnows are quite fragile and I
noticed some missing scales on some specimens so I'll have to wait and see
what happens there.

But I'm not going back there again to collect.  The biodiveristy wasn't and
the large rocks made seining difficult.  (Some speciemns were cushed in the
rocks and trapped in the seine).  Well, the biodiversity of the fish was
lacking, but the bug/worm/crustacean populations was something else.  The
rocks in the current were covered in black worms.  Lots of caddis fly larvae
and little shimp like things too.