NANFA-L-- western fishing

geoffrey kimber (
Mon, 8 Aug 2005 22:56:33 -0400

My family and I just got back from a trip from our home in Virginia to
a meeting in San Antonio Tx, on to Tucson to visit my parents, and
then back home.

Around San Antonio, we fished in the evenings (after my meetings) in
the San Marcos river. The water was very clear, although it was blue
in deep parts of the river. Here we found mexican tetras and rio
grande cichlids, the two species I was interested in collecting. The
tetras were not-in-all common, and even with an 8' seine, we only
found 5 fish over 3 days. The cichlids were pretty common. We
collected a few small (smaller than a nickel) fish. We also found
several really big adult cichlids (8-10") and the largest red ear
sunfish I have ever seen. The fish was literally the size of a dinner
plate and 1.5" -2" thick. We of course returned him to the water
quickly to allow his genes to stay in the population.

Other fish we found were juvenile sunfish (probably from the big
redear), largemouth bass, a darter I didn't recognize, and of course
suckermouth catfish. While I didn't count the dorsal fin rays, I
expect that they were pterygoplicthys. I also found some shiny
minnows that I am not good-in-identifying.

On the way from San Antonio to Tucson, we took state route to 55
instead of I-10 because 55 has several access points to the nueces
river. The nueces river was beautiful - crystal clear water, at
bathwater temperature. At the site we stopped, there was a causeway
built totally across the river that had several culverts (here's a
link to someone else's web page that has some nice photos of the place
I fished - scroll down to the middle. They guy crouching down on the
causeway is-in-the place I fished)

In the nueces, we found some of the most beautiful black tail shiners
I have ever seen. The males were the size of my hand with a steel
blue body color and red fins. I am annoyed that I didn't take any
pictures, but I didn't. We also found more rio grande cichlids and I
was able to catch about a dozen mexican tetras. The tetras surprised
me in that they were right below one of the culverts in extremely
turbulent water. Once we figured this out, it was actually pretty
easy to catch them. In open water they are extremely fast and very
difficult to catch.

After a short day on the road, we stayed-in-the river and swam for
several hours, which kept us from getting too far that day. We
decided it was worth it, but I was disappointed that I did not bring
my mask and snorkel as the conditions were ideal.

After a week in Tucson visiting my parents, we started home. The
first day, we made it (barely) to amarillo tx. Our goal was to find
red river pupfish and fundulus zebrinus. There is a small
recreational lake-in-the base of the dam that forms lake meredith on
the canadian river. As I found in the past, pupfish were extremely
numerous, and f. zebrinus were also relatively abundant. I had all
the pupfish I wanted in one seine haul.

Additionally, we found red river shiners, the ever present gambusia,
and red shiners.

After we were done fishing (it took all of 15 minutes) we stayed a
while to swim before heading out to our next stop - the illinois river
near tahlequah, OK.

Its too bad the timing didn't work out, but I stopped in the illinois
river on Monday, August 1st, so I just missed the group in Barron

We stopped-in-3 public access points on the illinois river.. The
water was really pretty warm and clear, so the family had a great time
swimming, although I was a bit disappointed with the species we found

the most common fish-in-all sites were stonerollers. We also found a
lot of shiny minnows, that I think were emerald shiners, but I'm not
certain. I did find quite a few cardinal shiners, which were the main
fish that I was interested in collecting.

I found some really beautiful longear sunfish as well as some YOY rock
bass and small mouth bass. I caught a 10" small mouth as well, which
was of course promptly returned to the water unharmed ;-)

I only found a single topminnow, which I think was F notatus, although
it might be F olivaceous. Gambusia were plentiful.

We were able to collect several Nocomis, which I guess were asper. All
the fish, even the juveniles had red fins, which we thought was
interesting. The Nocomis were always found where cooler water
(usually a spring source) entered the main river channel.

We found greenside, banded, and orange throat darters-in-all sites.
None were in prime color, I expect due to the high water temps.

At one site, we collected many juvenile redhorse, although I'm not
sure which species. Northern hogsuckers were actually pretty abundant
as well.

At a couple sites, we caught madtoms, which I am pretty sure are
stonecats because of the pattern by the dorsal fin. At one location,
we were trying to bury the seine a little in the substrate to prevent
fish from swimming under the net and in the process, we dislodged 4 or
5 stonecats (all about 1-2 inches long)

At the last site, there was a large stretch of calm water that was
about 18" deep and moving steadily, although not too quickly. My wife
and kids noticed some really large fish patrolling about the area.
they wouldn't let us get too close, but we're pretty sure that at
least one was a bass. We're not sure about the others, but they had a
single dorsal fin and a deeply forked tail. The front of the fish was
kind of humped up like a buffalo and they were darker than the bass.
They were much faster than the bass, and didn't let us very near.

All in all, it was a good trip. Most of the fish are doing great, but
the cardinal shiners have a terminal case of tail rot. No matter what
I try, the tail rots away and they die. I've kept them before and I
don't remember them being so sensitive.

Geoff Kimber
Rappahannock river
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