NANFA-- A little different kind of trip...
Todd Crail (toddcrail_at_yahoo.com)
Wed, 7 Apr 2004 10:54:34 -0700 (PDT)
Last Saturday was a nice blast of fresh springness in the
Toledo, Ohio area. I tried some of the closer usual
suspects for seining... It was too spontaneous. So I
figured I'd go about with a dipnet and tool around some
local streams. Sometimes the dipnet can work really well,
even better than a seine, but only when fish are concentrated
in distinct pockets of habitat. This was not the case for me
My first stop was at a site on the Ottawa River adjacent
to a portion of the Inner City of Toledo. I will be doing a
"clinic" for the University of Toledo Honor's program that
works with Inner City kids at an after school program. A
friend of mine runs the program and had asked about doing
something with "fish". I said "Heck... Let's just show them
what lives down the street!" So our first day will be stream
side... My advisor when I begin classes at UT next fall also
agreed to join in for the sampling. We'll have a 30' purse
seine and can really work the whole habitat, which is good
based on my sampling Saturday ;) Day two will be me playing
Jack Hanna at the church where the program is run, and I'll
bring in all sorts of critters from the streams and from the
So back to last Saturday... I poked around the riffle for
awhile. I caught one very gravid female blackside darter that
was absolutely goregous (gave her my regards and sent her
right back! :). I caught a handful of bluntnose
minnows, a couple creek chubs, and well that was about it.
I think everything was hanging out in the pools below the riffles,
and I had no good way to sample it. However, on my way out
I noticed a huge male white sucker riding the riffle. His back was
jet black, his belly and consequent fins were yellows and oranges.
He was beautiful! I just stood and watched him for about 5
minutes. That was the true gem at this site.
It was then off to Swan Creek, at the site where I stared
a catastophy in the face last fall. I figured I'd fart around and
see if any walleye had come upstream and been stopped by the
dam. After getting hung up a couple times on some big logs
stuck out in the stream, I decided that was an exercise in futility
and instead, poked around with my dipnet. Saw some johnny
darter and bluntnose minnows, but that was it.
A family of 4 then came down on the other side of the dam
and were working on becoming a family of 3 or 2. They were
letting their 3 or 4 year old just hang off the girder where the
boy I rescued last fall had fallen off. She was slapping her
hand in the water going over the dam, Dad made a couple
jumps acting like he was going to throw her in. I was just
thinking "Umm... The water is ~4" higher right now than last
time. I know what I'm walking into and it's going to be a very
very wet rescue. Get your kid off the dam!!!" I got too
emotional to offer any kind advice. I figured if I said
anything it would come out like a lecture, and that wasn't
going to help anything. So I waited until they left and then
got myself out of there. On my way out I saw Dad climbing
out on an old rotted tree hanging over the water. I felt kinda
bad about it, but I could only think: "Some people call that
natural selection, buddy." My work at this site is not done...
Off I went to Walleye Madness on the Maumee. I stopped
in at the local bait shop to listen to what was going on. Young
men talking crap and old men whining about what everyone
else is doing. I don't know how Gary (the shop owner) puts
up with it. In the midst of one fella's tirade about people
snagging their fish, Gary mention that a 10 year old boy came
in with his limit of 3, all caught legally. The man on the soapbox
said "That's a bunch of crap! He snagged them all!"
(note: snagged fish are common wether you want to or not.
There's so many walleye packed in there, it's not uncommon
to step on a couple during peak run. Some people like to
take home their snagged fish.)
Gary kinda shook his head and I pipped in... "He was using a
floating jig on a carolina rig and was just letting it set straight
downstream, letting the feeding fish do their work, behind all
the idiots with death wishes to get out to 'where the fish are!'"
Gary and his wife both got a big grin... I think I'll talk to them
about setting up a darter tank of some sort once the madness
all calms down. They used to have warmouth and crappie in
a big tank. I'll see if I can't get them something that will keep
them less busy, and hopefully use the situation to get working
with DNR, as the officers hang out there a lot.
I then wandered to Miltonville and Weir Rapids access on the
Maumee. These are not my typical localities for Walleye fishing...
The places were I usually go were going to be packed with too
many egos. I messed around and bit, but had come unprepared
for walleye fishing. I didn't have my neoprenes with me
(I sample in nylon waders because I sweat something horrible in
the neoprene) and I needed a wind breaker of some sort (cotton
kills!). As I was farting around and looking round the shoreline,
I found a 5" mapleleaf mussle valve (Quadrula quadrula).
This gave me an idea... In the fall I had noticed at another access
(Van Tassel Access) a few middens from either racoon or
muskrats. Middens are essentially garbage dumps. It never really
flooded this winter so I knew they'd be less disturbed by the
river and hopefully humans.
Did I hit the jackpot! There were middens all along the shore.
I probably picked up 500 full sets of valves, which is
unprecedented in this area, esp considering the amount of
diversity I found. I think I need to get a canoe so I can travel
around the islands there. It seems to be the right aquatic
habitat combined with the right terrestrial habitat to let the
critters all do the work. That paired with light human traffic
to remove them makes it sweet! I'm figuring the opposing
sides of the islands would be even better because they get
zero human disturbance, and there's a lot of them with large
root wads and undercuts.
So... My species list for the day is in mussels, not so much fish.
I wished I'd had my camera with me, so I could have gotten my
own pics, but oh well. I found a really nice juvenile threehorn
wartyback, where you could see all the colors and the pustles
(the bumps on the shell) were huge. Another really nice specimen
was a pink heelsplitter that had a _lavender_ nacre (the glossy
part inside the valve). It was difficult to not bring home :)
I also finally figured out one that I could never get but knew it
looked different. The pimpleback. The Maumee River genotype
really lacks development of pustules... But that green stripe was
unmistakeable. Silly name for it... Should be called the Maumee
green stripe! :) I guess that's what makes mussels so tough to
want to learn. You can line up three specimens from the same
species in the same river and they all look different.
I did find one that I wish I hadn't. I found a dead zebra mussel.
I knew it was only a matter of time, and the Maumee has been
fortunate to go for so long without. But dang it, it really sucked
to see it. I did bring that specimen home to see if anyone
around the state needs it. Of course, there were Corbicula, the
Asiatic clams everywhere, per usual.
Back to the natives... I think these are worth seeing, so I'll add
in the INHS links to the species. Hope you enjoy that and get
inspired to take up some malacology yourselves, since we're
already in the habitat and might save a day out when the fish
aren't cooperating as well as you'd like. Data is data :)
Amblema plicata, threeridge
Anodontoides ferussacianus, cylindrical papershell
Fusconaia flava, Wabash pigtoe
Lasmigona complanata, white heelpsplitter
Leptodea fragilis, fragile papershell
Obliquaria reflexa, threehorn wartyback
Potamilus alatus, pink heelsplitter
Quadrula pustulosa, pimpleback
Quadrula quadrula, mapleleaf
Truncilla truncata, deertoe
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
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