Seinerama II

Casper Cox provided this report of Seinerama II, held 6-8 July 2006, in and around Chattanooga, TN:

"Stott Noble, his wife Leigh and their daughter, Ed Scott and Michael Wolfe arrived at my home Thursday afternoon. We had a bit of time to check out the critters in the cement pond [Casper's in-ground-swimming-pool-turned-fish-pond], cross the swinging bridge and view my son Cobalt's "Native Fishes of South Chickamauga Creek" streamside sign [ html]. We then headed over to the Tennessee Aquarium's maintenance facility for a tour of their quarantine tanks, Barrens Topminnow breeding aquaria, and massive shark pools where you donıt dare dangle your finger. Matt Hamilton showed us around, answered our questions, and kept us from leaning over too far.

"After the visit we headed to the Pot Point House along the Tennessee River, where Kay Moore and her granddaughter were awaiting our arrival. A light evening meal of sandwiches, cheese and beverages was presented. Afterwards we took a relaxing walk along the river before the dayıs light faded.

"Kay's alarm clock holler woke us up Friday morning to a table-clothed breakfast of fresh fruits, muffins, cereals and brewed coffee. Carol Farmer, of the Tennessee Aquarium, arrived on her bicycle followed shortly by Matt and his co-worker Ben.

"We seined several sites along the Tennessee, Sequatchie and Little Sequatchie Rivers. Our last seine haul at Ketner's Mill yielded a 4' Longnose Gar accompanied by a smaller three-footer. Matt collected several species for exhibit, including a small herd of Blotchside Chub. Arriving back at the Pot Point House, our housemother, Kay, was preparing an awesome meal. Anna George drove from Signal Mountain to share in the fresh-seine-caught Channel Catfish, Gulf Coast shrimp and the house specialty. When I first unwrapped my armor-skinned gar steaks Kay ran me from the kitchen refusing to cook it. Later a platter of fried fish was brought out and everyone commented on how good the catfish was when in fact it was the gar!

"Saturday morning we caravaned to the Hiwassee River where we were joined by Edıs friend, Susan, and Matt Hamilton and his wife and brother. Very cold water the Hiwassee has! Michael stretched on one of Edıs extra wetsuits and got to see Tangerine Darters up close and personal for the first time. The water was crystal clear and the day was bright and beautiful.

"After a picnic lunch along the bank we drove south to the Conasauga and accessed the river from Highway 411. Unique fish only a few miles away and just across the Tennessee Divide, yet separated by thousands of miles of flowing water and eons of time. We spent the afternoon snorkeling the comfortable but slightly clouded flow between the railroad bridge upstream and the remnants of the old highway bridge pylons. A fella and some of his friends joined us along the bank, as our access was adjacent to his newly purchased property. He is building a cabin perched on those old bridge pylons. How cool is that!

"We decided to skip the planned Conasauga Cajun restaurant for another fine candlelight Kay dinner of grilled and roasted steak, potatoes, lima beans, buttered garlic bread and salad greens, finished off with apple crumb pie. This, our last evening together, was filled with conversation, Edıs laptop fish ID class, the sounds of four happily playing little girls, and my wife Connieıs violin and Leighıs flute.

"In addition to the native fish and the fellowship, Kayıs participation was the highlight of this gathering, a wonderful pleasure at every meal, greeting our mornings with a breakfast laid before us, and making sandwiches for our picnic lunches.

"After the Stott clan's late departure for Birmingham, a restful sleep for those remaining, and a breakfast of Keener Farmıs shitakes and eggs, Kay, Michael and I returned to my home after cleaning the cabin and loading the remaining supplies and gear. Not only will Kay be the honored guest at any gathering I host but she is, quite suprisingly, the first visiting NANFAn to snorkel the cement pond. Most people just peer down but she jumped in!"

Photos and a video from the trip can be viewed here.