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NFC: Collecting in Missouri

Well, here is my account of my adventures from last week.

On Monday, the 24th I traveled down to the Big Piney River near Houston,
MO. to try my luck at finding Bleeding Shiners and Plains Topminnows.  I
collected at a public access area call "The Narrows" on the Big Piney.
There was another access just up the road that I found out about later as
I was driving home that looked even better...Oh well.

Anyway, I took some traps and my dipnets and headed down to the river.  It
was a clear running stream, approx. 40 feet wide.  I could see Longear
sunfish, various minnows and shiners, killies and possibly Southern
Redbelly Dace in the water.  I set my traps and went to work.   I took the
dipnet out and began to sample for darters.  It was hard going as the
current was straong in this location and for a while I was coming up
empty.  Then, I lucked into netting one young Bleeding Shiner.  As I
continued to work along the stream, I collected a few Gold Crayfish and
then a few darters started showing up.  I managed to coolect approximately
18 crayfish and about one dozen more Orangethroat Darters for an hours
work.  I then too my "fry net" and made a series of sweeps through the
shallows and managed to catch several dozen fry of at least three species.
One small Hogsucker and two minnow/shiner species as yet unidentified.  It
had been a long trip down there so my time was limited as I had a 7 hour
drive to get home that evening.  So, I collected my traps (which caught
nothing) and headed home.  End of Monday's trip.

On Thursday, the 27th I met up with "Tony" Tejavej (I know that is
probably spelled wrong...sorry Tony) from Thailand for an attempt at
Bleeding Shiners and Cardinal shiners near Joplin, Mo.   First, we drove
about 45 minutes east of Joplin to the Paris Springs access along Turnback
Creek just east of Mt. Vernon, Mo.  Here, we found a low water bridge that
provided easy access to a small stream approximately 15 feet wide that was
clear as tap water.  We spotted several large groups of Bleeding shiners
in the water and so got out the seines.  Unfortunately, our seining skills
were somewhat wanting and the shiners were smarter than than two of us.
They all escaped.  So, we set some trap and then Tony took my Umbrella net
and I got out my fry net and we headed upstream.  Our first bleeding
shiner capture came as a result of an icident worthy of "America's
Funniest Home Videos".  I had sat down on a log earlier in the day that
was fallen across the stream to take a short rest.  As I came by again, I
again sat down, but this time the log broke and I plunged into the 2 foot
deep water.  It wasn't frigid, but cold enough to take your breath away.
Tony asked me if I was alright and all my airless lungs could manage to
say was something to the effect of "gungh!".  I was fine, embarrassed,
laughing hysterically at myself and unable to speak  from lack of air, but
still fine.  I'm glad someone wasn't there with a video camera, I'd be
hard pressed to live this one down.  Anyway, Tony gve me a hand up and as
we stood there he lifted the umbrella net to find a lard male bleeding
shiner in it.  Not the best way to catch them...but we 'd take it.  :-)
Tony managed to catch about 14 specimens with the umbrella net and I
caught over 50 young fry.  I turned them loose thought as some were dying
and didn't seem to be taking the capture too well.  All in all we caught
or saw the following species in the creek:  Bleeding Shiner, Ozark Minnow,
Bluegill, Longeared Sunfish, Creek Chub, a large unidentified
shiner/minnow with tubercles, an unidentified darter and some saddled

Next we went to the access point on the Spring River near La Russell, Mo.
The Spring River was running high and fast so we did not feel comfortable
wading into it.  However we did dipnet along the shore and caught
approximately two dozen crayfish.  The Neosho Midget and the Saddled
Craygish I believe.

Our last stop was an access point just on the south edge of Joplin on a
small backwater of Shoal Creek.  Shoal Creek was running even harder than
the Spring River, but fortunately the Wildcat Hollow (or was it Creek?)
access provided a calm, clear backwater.   There was a low water bridge
there as well.   At this location we caught a few Longeared sunfish and
Topminnows that I think are Blackstripe but have not positively ID'd yet.
I also collected about 50 young fry thatare doing well even as I type
this.  We also saw Bluegill and several large Bass in the water.
Unfortunately, there were two young boys who kept following us around at
this location.  They dissapeared shortly before we called it a day...and
unfortunately, so did one of our traps.  The hazards of collecting I
guess.  We didn't ever find any Cardinal Shiners, but I am confident that
they are to be found quite easily in the area and will try to go after
them again later in the year.

We didn't get as many fish as we would have liked but we caught some.  I
kept a pair of the Bleeding shiners, a pair of Longears and the four
Topminnows.  Tony kept the remainder including approximately 9 shiners and
two small Longears.  At least we were successful in locating collecitng
points for Bleeeding and Cardinal shiners within a 20 minute drive of each

Hopefully, with the next expedition, some guys will come along who are
more experienced with seining for shiners and we can catch a large number
of these beautiful little gems for all those interested in them.

Anybody interested in a late September/early October attempt?  Let me