Subject: NANFA-L-- Farmer's Travels
From: Todd D. Crail (tcrail-in-UTNet.UToledo.Edu)
Date: Mon Nov 29 2004 - 22:14:18 CST
Greetings gang. I'm just back from the lovely state of Tennessee. I need to
spend more time in that state, and the Appalachian south in general. Sarah
and I were fantasizing about the future, getting a job-in-a school there
along the way in Kentucky... Not so far that it's an annoying drive to see
relatives back up here in Ohio, but right on the brink of all that
biodiversity stacked up in those hills (I couldn't believe all the
salamanders!). If I _had_ to take a position at, say, Maryville College, I
wouldn't put up much of a fight ;)
Our destination was Wears Cove on the northwest end of the park between
Pigeon Forge and Townsend along SR 321. I had hoped to get into both the
Little and the Little Pigeon to find some darters for my displays and-in-the
Lake Erie Center that are imperilled or extirpated up here, but common down
there. I also really wanted to see a tangerine and a blueside. And should
chance play nice, an ashy darter wouldn't upset me either. Unfortunately,
there had been heavy rain in the area prior to our arrival... Everything was
dangerously flooded. I guess it's going to have to be next time to see
these species. In the meantime, it was a real trick to discern what was
just flash water, and what were real streams.
As a few dry days progressed over the Holiday and Friday, things began to
get to just a light rush, instead of raging torrents. Flashy runs turned
back into grassy meadows. There's been an awful lot of development going on
in this valley... You can easily see the orange scars in the hills as you
drive along. I really wish they'd build detention ponds as they went (cause
you know, people hate ponds around their homes ;) to settle out-in-least
some of the sediments until plants get back in place, but some of the
developments just ripped out whole sides of hills and had their way with the
I stopped-in-a road leading to one such development where a 48" culvert pipe
was placed in the stream which the road crossed. I don't know the name of
the stream, but it's the one that comes down the east side of Cove Mountain
and goes into Pigeon Forge to the east of Walden Creek.
Anyway, my Dad had "found" this stream, and was interested to see what I do
(and I think we'll have another native guy among our ranks before long :).
He bought a fishin' liscence too, just so there weren't any questions, and
off we went.
I quickly ran into sculpin of varying color and patterning.. I know mottled
(C. bairdi) were present, there may have been banded (C. carolinae) as well,
but didn't know how to tell-in-that point (I had only researched the
darters). Everything else I sampled from then on were mottled, but I was
never in an extreme headwater like this again.
There were also a pile of stripetail darters (E. kennicotti) present. It
seemed to me they were like a morph between a fantail and a johnny darter.
Interesting fish, and I brought one home to study, but I think I'll stick
with fantails for display :) Then I got out of that race and into a
pool... There were tons of striped shiners and stonerollers, and I added two
new fish to my "life list".
Present were some nice specimens of TN snubnose darters (E. simoterum) and
what later were determined to be saffron shiners (N. rubricroceus), which
looked like they had lipstick smashed on their noses. NEAT fish. I'm
really excited to get these guys through acclimation and in a tank, even
more excited to get them into breeding condition. I found some much larger
specimens later in another stream, and you could see more of the red color
down the body of those. Phewww... That has to be something when in full
color! And those snubnose... what a cute fish. I really need to see a
splendid darter (E. barrenense) now :)
Now for a reflective NANFA moment... I was parked on a large gravel road,
which I walked down into the stream via the culvert, all of which were in
front of the telephone poles, none of which were in anyone's front or back
yard. It was just meadow (more like old field) surrounding. Looked like a
spot where I wouldn't bother a soul.
Now I think you know what happened, and it all worked out for the best...
But the property owner did come out to see what the heck I was doing on his
"property [he was] developing", which he'd never have gotten in his car if I
weren't there (he lived off site, someone called him on their cell phone).
Of course, I said _nothing_ about the logistics of the situation and where I
felt I had a right to be there without researching who's property it was and
gaining official permission, appologized immediately if I had even made his
heart pump a beat faster, and dispelled the situation by explaining my
presence was only there because I didn't think it would cause anyone's
caution or curiosity. He seemed mostly worried I was in there taking trout,
which I understood, I showed him exactly what I was after and made a little
bit of progress in a discussion. The problem is... he showed up pissed off.
That's not how I like to start a conversation. I'm sure he would have
prefered to not start off that way as well.
I dunno... what do you folks do? This is probably a topic all on it's own,
and if people would like to discuss it, maybe we should. Wouldn't make a
bad editorial or a summary in Riffles in AC either. Because this is
probably something that comes up repeatedly.
I'm guessing the Ohio plates didn't sit real well, with the flood of
out-of-towners in the valleys this weekend. I wasn't hiding anything
though... I had my blaze orange on, was parked in plain view. And my
understanding is any water and animals within are the State's, and any land
between the telephone poles and the road is an easement for the DOT. Was I
out of line? I know I can talk my way out of these kinds of situations,
unless someone really wants to be a jerk about it... But where did I fall if
the police show up? Was I trespassing? It's not my goal to make people
angry so I can look-in-fish :)
I dropped Dad back off-in-the cabin and headed down in the valley to a
location on Cove Creek where it was VERY clear their only purpose for the
parcel was to dump stuff. The stream was in okay shape-in-this location
despite the old car parts and barrels, and I got my first look-in-a swannona
darter (E. swannanoa). Where have you guys been hiding these!?! I mean, I
guess when you walk the halls of tangerines, redlines, gilts and bluesides,
you've got some serious competition. But phew. Nice fish! I _love_ the
finnage. This is also where I nabbed the larger saffron shiners.
I then stopped-in-a place up stream a bit on Cove Creek, it was suspended
silts up to my hips. I almost got stuck. I had hoped to use my dipnet on
the undercuts in the bank and all the vegetation laying down... but yucko.
Sulfides errupting every step. I caught some little blacknose dace, but
that was it. Time to head into Pigeon Forge and see if I could get a nice
access to the smaller creeks running into the Little Pigeon.
I looked along Walden Creek, and turned in-in-the Kroger parking lot. There
was a smaller stream running along the lot, that turned out to be the one I
was sampling up in the hills and had my conversation with the land owner. I
followed the lot around, and wouldn't you know it... There's a city park
with parking and halide lot lights right on the creek. Seemed like if I was
tresspassing here, it was time to just pack it in! : )
It was getting dark quickly, so the parking lot light (and that ominous glow
of Pigeon Forge I'm usually cursing at) was welcome. I quickly nabbed some
TN snubnose, swannanoa, and stripetail darters... Then I nabbed something a
little more peculiar. I wasn't sure on the ID, mainly because it was so
danged dark, so I put it in the "non exposed" bucket in case I needed to
release it and planned to return in the morning, if need be. Turned out to
be a female redline (E. rufilineatum), which made me excited. Hopefully the
big riffle stuff had moved up in this little creek from the flooding and I'd
get all my wishes!
I returned the following morning, knowing I only had a limited number of
"lifts" left with the seine. I had forgotten to get my "travel seine" back
from one of our stock rooms, which was a lightweight 6' seine, instead of
the 8' monster I was lifting presently. My back and arms were holding okay,
and having the bank mowed along this stream was an absolute bonus in the
situation (although I cringed-in-how much had caved in during the flooding).
But I was running out of gas with all that rushing water.
This site is perhaps a perfect site, if you're in the area, and only have
limited time to sample. This stream has all the fast gravelly, rocky small
stream stuff... The Little Pigeon is 50 yards from the parking lot, with a
nice fast large riffle on a bend with lots of pools and varying habitat.
Additionally, about 20 yards down from the small creek is where Walden Creek
enters the Little Pigeon as well. It's kinda deep pooly sandy stuff here,
but the water was too high for me to really explore it, nor would I have
been able to effectively sample it by myself, with my arms shot from lifting
the seine too much. If it were lower, the fish would be concentrated-in-
least in the smaller stream, and a dipnet would be a perfect tool for
collection. Everything was so spread out though, I felt I needed to muscle
I got some nice male redline darters, saw tons of little northern
hogsuckers, some bigeye chubs and lots of TN snubnose darters. All in all,
it was a nice spot. I'd be interested to see it when the water levels are
lower, or in the spring when stuff moves around to different places to
spawn, only this time with another brailman. And... it's perfect because
you can drop the ladies off over-in-the outlet mall right down the street,
and meet back up in 2 or 3 hours, with everyone happy :)
At this point... I was done. I couldn't lift the seine any more. I was
tired and sore, so it was time to pack it in on this trip. I really wish I
could have gotten into the Little. So many access, with just too much
danged water to be safe. I found access to a trib north of Townsend, but-in-
this point, I was dead. I needed a partner in crime to continue, and Dad
wasn't all that into it right then, and Sarah was just happy sitting in the
hot tub :)
And so that was the trip this time around... I think I remember Fellow Cox
talking about hellbenders and snail darters in the French Broad below
Douglas Lake... That would be fun (hint hint hint :) I had entertained
going back down over Christmas break, since fish are like, my job now...
But the schedule is too freakin' packed. So. Spring Break '05 it is!
Maybe we can organize something as the winter blues begin to set in :)
Unknown Creek, outside Pigeon Forge, TN
Clear, fast, gravel, sand, shale, granite rocks
Todd Crail - 8' Seine
Creek chub (abund)
Central stoneroller (abund)
Striped shiner (dominant)
Saffron shiner (20+)
Northern hogsucker (1)
TN snubnose darter (~20)
Stripetail darter (abund)
Mottled sculpin (10+)
Banded sculpin ?
Cove Creek, Wears Valley, TN
Slightly turbid, fast, gravel, sand, cobble
TC - 8' Seine
Creek chub (abund)
Central stoneroller (~10)
Saffron shiner (15+)
Nocomis chub (3) (probably micropogon)
Swannona darter (~10)
TN snubnose darter (4)
Mottled sculpin (1)
Unknown Creek, Pigeon Forge, TN-in-"City Park"
Clear, fast, gravel, sand, cobble and rip rap
TC - 8' Seine
Creek chub (20+)
Central stoneroller (dominant)
Bigeye chub (3)
Rosyface shiner (2)
Sand shiner (~10)
Black redhorse (1)
Northern hogsucker (abund - 30+)
White sucker (1)
Banded darter (1)
TN snubnose darter (abund)
Swannona darter (5+)
Redline darter (~15)
Stripetail darter (20+)
Mottled sculpin (20+)
The Muddy Maumee Madness, Toledo, OH
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:55 CST