Back home in GA...the convention was great! Thanks to Rob Carillio and the
Ohio boys for such a well-organized & well orchestrated event. From an
observer's point of view, it ran like a well-oiled machine. It was fun to
put faces with the names of people from the list. Chris has got to be the
youngest looking 40 in the country! Happy Birthday, Pal!
The collecting exceeded my expectations. There was such a wide variety of
fish that were new to me. I had to be really picky about what I
kept...especially since I had to mail them home. I went with the Saturday
morning crew that sampled Queer Creek (yep, that's really the name of it),
which runs right through the park. The water was cloudy enough to seriously
hamper the snorkeling, but I gave it a shot anyway. In a couple of deep
pools, I swam with black crappie, yellow perch, southern redbellies,
troutperch, and darters that I couldn't see well enough to guess at. Even
with a full wetsuit, the water was COLD!
Later in the day, I went with the group to Pine Creek (where we performed
CPR on Bob's van). Looking for water clear enough and deep enough to
snorkel, I walked about 2-3 miles upstream from the rest of the party. The
walk was worth it. Beyond a small oxbow, I found a series of deeper pools
that were crystal clear. I swam with redside dace, southern redbellies, two
different kinds of chubs that I couldn't ID, bluntnose minnows, blackstripe
topminnows, orangethroat darters, two different kinds of suckers, and
several other species of shiners I wasn't sure of. Collecting underwater
with a small trout net, I was amazed at how one species of fish differs
from another in their ability to elude capture. The redside dace and
bluntnose minnows were so easy I could almost gather them by accident. The
redbellies are very, very difficult to catch, and the suckers were impossible.
After I had my fill of snorkeling (sort of (-:), I switched from the
wetsuit back to the waders & seine. Even working alone, each pass of the
net came back brimming with fish. It made up for some of those winter days
when you're lucky to get six fish at any one pass. I hadn't intended to
keep any darters, but I got 3 orangethroats that were just too stunning to
let go. In all, I guess I ended up with about 18 fish, which are now
somewhere in the mail system between here and Ohio.
As a first-time convention visitor, I want to encourage each of you to make
plans now for Michigan. The MI guys already seem to have a handle on next
year's bash. Even if all we had done was hang out and gab at the lodge, the
trip would have been well worth it. I met a lot of great people, learned
more about fish, and felt (once again) a sense of wonder about the
beautiful country we live in. Thanks, Ohio!
Steven A. Ellis
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