NANFA-- summer rains

Rick Phillips (
Wed, 27 Aug 2003 07:58:49 -0400

I took a short trip down to the North Fork Holston River in northeast
Tennessee yesterday afternoon. I have been waiting for this river to clear
sufficiently to snorkel since the NANFA convention in June. Still to turbid
for good visibility under water. This one of the wettest summers I can
remember (we have had over 10 inches of rain in August alone). The North Fork
has been high and muddy most of the summer. This is usually a nice, clear
stretch of water in the summer months. It has quite a diversity of habitats
and fishes with many rapids, riffles and pools with substrates ranging from
silt to sand, gravel, cobble and large shelfs of bedrock. Depths range from
inches to over 6 feet (the area I was in is normally ankle to chest deep.
The river is normally quite heavily vegetated during the summer months with
stands of vals, water willow, potamogeton and others. A few of the fish found
here are Tennessee Shiner, Warpaint Shiner, Telescope Shiner, Sawfin Shiner,
Redline Darter, Blotchside Logperch, Tangerine Darter, Gilt Darter, Greenside
Darter, Banded Darter, Mountain Madtom, Redbreast Sunfish and many others.

On my visit yesterday I was disappointed to find the river scoured of almost
all the normal summer vegetation. Where there would normally be acres of
yellow-flowering water willow covering the surface there was nothing. Where
large stands of gently swaying vals would normally be covering the bottom,
there was nothing but sand, gravel, and cobble. I took my dip-net with me and
where I would normally be able to get some species of darter on nearly every
try I found only one redline darter in over an hour of collecting. I did see
a few hogsuckers, chubs, and redhorses but overall it looked like a small
sample of the normal numbers and diversity.

I was just wondering if others in areas with above average precip this summer
had seen this pattern and what sort of effects you might expect from such


Rick Phillips
Kingsport, Tennessee
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