Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Conasauga River RedHorse Snorkel September 2004
From: Bob Muller (michiganfish at wideopenwest.com)
Date: Tue Sep 28 2004 - 20:44:38 CDT
If late October is the end of the season, how early does it start?
----- Original Message -----
From: Prizma at aol.com
To: nanfa-l at nanfa.org
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 6:18 PM
Subject: NANFA-L-- Conasauga River RedHorse Snorkel September 2004
Conasauga River RedHorse Snorkel September 2004
Before the season was out i wanted to get another snorkel in... and the Conasauga is generally warmer than other local rivers and streams so it was a good option. The water was pleasantly still cool and even comfortable with my wetsuit on. Visibility was about 10' of which 5' was very clear. I counted at least 27 species Saturday and returned Sunday and added 3 more.
Hurricane Ivan had been thru the week before and evidence of the raging water was everywhere. The man's house where i parked was just 2' above the high water mark and his home's floor was built 5' above the 100 year flood. He just made it tho they had to leave the house at 2 in the morning because of the rising water, wading knee deep to his truck. I understand the newly renovated camping sites, culverts and parking areas higher upstream were stripped and devastated.
Nonetheless the conditions for this weekend were wonderful at the site i selected. I spent the entire day in the water or hiking streamside studying the carved out areas and finding pools of refuge filled w/ a variety of species. Many of these will probably end up drying out providing food for raccoons and birds. Nature can be pretty harsh. At one location i found hundreds of Southern Studfish stranded in a pool all mouthing the surface of the water. Feeding or gathering oxygen?
Stonerollers ( schools )
Drum ( big! )
Sunfish: BlueGill, RedBreast, LongEar, Green, Crappie ( single ) & Shadow Bass
Shiners: Alabama, Blue, TriColor, BlackTail & Stripe ( lots of shiners everywhere )
Darters: LogPerch, Bronze, BlackBanded, Speckled & Bridal
Catfish... some kind of BullHead? ( first time to see a bullhead while snorkeling... he was in a drying pool )
Bass: Coosa & LargeMouth ( big largemouths... beautiful coosas )
Riffle Minnow ( w/ redish noses )
Buffalo ( first time to see these beasts! )
BlackTail RedHorse... noted in their caudal fin.
and an unknown minnow ( schooling ) and a couple darters.
there are many other species in the conasauga yet to be ided by me!
The next day i returned with my speargun. Downstream there was a 10' deep pool where massive Drum and RedHorse and Buffalo were gathered. By the end of the day i had speargunned 3) 16" River RedHorses. I returned home with them and scaled and gutted them. Wrapped them in aluminum foil and put them on the grill for 20 minutes low heat. After they cooled i carefully deboned them. Lots of bones... tiny multiple Y bones. Coby helped me at the end with tweezers picking out all those tiny bones! Time consuming indeed. We took the pile of gleaned flesh and added eggs, oil and seasoned stuffing making patties which we fried slowly. Very good. I could feel the prickly bones when making the patties but the cooking softened them to where we barely got any bones while enjoying them. Next time i may try pressure cooking them which should also soften the bones. The Conasauga is very beautiful, clear and clean and the RedHorse tasted good even when unseasoned. Old timers use to catch them during spawning runs but today few people have tried them. I probably saw a hundred over the weekend, some were at least 2' long. I used Mettee's Alabama book to properly ID them using color, length, dorsal and pelvic ray counts, scales, fin shape and the lip diagram.
I also found a couple potential and interesting camping sites on private property. Im currently tracking down the owners to seek permission to gather there. The Conasauga is an awesome site and one of my favorite. An excellent location to introduce someone to freshwater snorkeling as the water is generally clear, warm in the summer and filled with unique, beautiful and interesting fish. It was the first river i snorkeled and always fun to revisit.
If anyone is interested we could perhaps still get a trip in before the season is out, mid to late October. Email me if interested.
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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 11:27:23 CST