NANFA-- Collectiing in South MS/North LA

D. Martin Moore (
Wed, 25 Aug 1999 00:58:13 -0500

In the wake of the national meeting in Illinois, I made plans with BG
Granier for an impromptu MS/AL regional trip to the southern
reaches of Mississippi, and into Cajun territory. I had line up six
people to attend, but after two last minute dropouts (one was
actually a no-show) it was just me and my son David, Stott Noble
from Alabama (my second trip with Stott, who is always ready and
willing!), and BG and Bessie (gave moral support and handed out
candies!) of course.

Stott arrived at my house in Pelahatchie about 8:30 am. After a
hearty breakfast of pancakes, biscuit, and sausage, we headed out
to meet up with BG just across the state line on Hwy. 21. This
first stop was the designated flagfin site, with possibly some
bluenoses. The stream was tannin stained,.mud bottomed, and
with a moderate current. We netted lots of flagfins by dragging our
nets through the vegetation at the edge of the current. In the faster
flowing sections, I also netted about 6 cherryfin shiners. Ghost
shrimp were common as well. I also came up with a lone pirate
perch, the first I have ever collected. We netted a single
blacksided darter and a madtom too. Since it was mainly the
flagfins I was after, we quickly moved on after collecting 30-40
specimens. Most of these were caught by BG and his special
"hoop net" (I don't know what else to call it!). This was essentially
a large (3' diameter) plankton net with 1/4 inch mesh, which was
home built. It also proved very effective later, as we shall see.

Since we didn't see any bluenoses at the first stop, we tried a
couple of miles downstream, but spotted nothing new other than a
water snake (which gave Stott a self-confessed case of the "snake
willies"), who seemed intent on minding his own business and paid
us no heed. So we then headed down the road for the primary
bluenose site. The features of this stream were much like the first,
except the water was noticeably cooler, and quite deep at the spot
we collected bluenoses. No adults were found (I did spot a couple
of them, but they quickly disappeared), but BG harvested at least
100 with his hoop net (a good thing too, as they hovered near the
vegetation beside a deep hole, at least 6' deep, which we could not
have dragged a seine through). After getting our fill, we moved
downstream into swifter waters to see what we could scare up. I
spotted a pickerel in a pool just below where we held our seine,
and sure enough, we were able to net one! I tossed him in a
bucket, thinking to take him home, but I later changed my mind
when I realized he would have to share a cooler with the bluenoses
and flagfins ! Not a good plan... so I tossed him back. It is
amazing how flexible these fish are - almost serpentine. We also
were able to net a few F. notti and F. olivaceous (a particular
favorite of Stott's).

Final stop (at least for BG's part of the tour) was a lily-choked
"slough" (I call it a ditch), where we hoped to find F. chrysotus.
We did net a few, but the big prize for me was about 30 H.
formosa, which are really cute little buggers.

On the way back Stott wanted to check out one of those little
streams we had crossed over, which appeared quite clear and
inviting. This turned out to be the most enjoyable (if not productive)
stop of the day. It was a sandy bottomed (BIG improvement over
the knee deep mud we had been slogging through!), glass-clear
creek no more than a few inches deep in most spots, and fish were
seen darting all over the place. We followed it downstream for a
couple of hundred yeards until the topology changed abruptly, and
the creekbed dropped off several feet and the water was quite deep.
Along the way, be made a nice catch of more F. olivaceous (most
of which made it home with Stott), MANY golden shiners which we
released, and two other generic "minners", one of which I later
indentified as a blackfin shiner. The other I won't be able to ID
while it's alive, which will seemingly be quite a while yet, as it has
adapted quite readily to my aquarium. We did pull up another
madtom, which was different from the first. I haven't identified
either of these since they have been in hiding ever since I brought
them home. Finally, I found what appears to be a very small hog

So altogether Stott and I brought back about 60-70 bluenoses (I'm
sorry to say that less than half of the ones I kept have survived until
this writing, but the rest seem OK), about 30-40 flagfins, 1/2 dozen
cherryfins, a heap of least killies (which I am keeping in an outdoor
tank, along with the chrysotus and several ghost shrimp, as they
appear quite heat tolerant), and a few other assorted fishes. With
the exception of the juvenile bluenoses (I can't wait to go back in
the spring to see the adults), everybody is doing quite well and
taking food.

Ironically I never made it to the one area I had intended to sample,
which Jan Hoover had clued me onto. But that's OK with me; it
leaves something to look forward to on my next trip a few weeks
from now. Any takers?



Greater American Freshwater Fishes Resource Site (GAFFeRs):

"Fie on thee, fellow! Whence come these fishes?" - Scheherazade

"Any fish with good teeth is liable to use them." - Wm. T. Innes

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