Fall 2000 VA Regional Collecting Trip Report
by Michael Thennet

On October 7. 2000. Mike Alao, Tom Alberti, Bob Bock, Osmon Claros and myself visited a little unnamed creek I know that flows into the Occaquon Reservoir in the Lake Ridge area. The creek is located in a newly developed suburban area which just a year and a half ago was a rather secluded forested rural area. The location is easily accessible via car and by short hiking trails. Last July we sampled the location and collected some of the most beautiful Rosyside Dace I had ever seen.

Due to heavy rain the previous week the water was very cool and somewhat turbid. Silt and some unusual plume-like algae growths had developed on the creek bottom since our last visit back in July. Also, more plastic, metal and other types of manmade refuse were evident as well. According to my map, a golf course was recently constructed a mile or so upstream which obviously drew good business this past summer. Runoff from a beautiful manmade plush green golf course may have been the cause of the unusual algae growths. Who knows?. Speaking of golf courses, all I could think of at the time was George Carlin's thoughts on golf. That, at least, brought a smile to my face.

Species sampled were Green Sunfish, Bluegill, Rosyside Dace, Blacknose Dace, White Sucker, Fantail Darter and Tessellated Darter. The absence of redbreast sunfish and pumpkinseeds was not too disturbing since they were present only in small numbers last July but the complete absence of the dainty bridled or swallowtail shiner (not yet identified) was a little upsetting since they were collected on almost every seine haul last Summer. The precense of even more bluegill seemed to be the sad trend for the little unnamed creek and a few other creeks I know in the Northern Virginia area. Luckily, the darters were present in good numbers throughout the stream. Both species are able to spawn and breed upside down on the undersides of rock and wood caves which keeps their eggs safe from being smothered in silt.

From the site, I kept four rosyside dace, three tessellated darters and one fantail darter for Chuck Miro of McLean, VA who plans to use them in a 20 gallon long stream setup in his daughter's biology classroom. Projects like these are extremely worthy and when you have the chance to help educate children, try not to pass up on the opportunity. That's what it is all about folks.

So long from VA,