Friday November 21, Ottawa River, Allen County, Ohio
I needed to get some longear for the aquarium at Maumee Valley, well any
fish, so I decided I'd get into the longear haven that the Auglaize portion
of the Maumee Watershed hosts. First stop was Sugar Creek at Bluelick Road.
The water was at an awkward level to do one man seining... It was all
pushing and I didn't want to burn up that early. The branches and stuff
that were overhanging were in only 2" of water, which did flush out some
juvie sunfishes, but they were all tiny. Time to move on...
After inhaling a Kewpee meal (which if you're ever in Lima, Ohio you _must_
stop. It's what Wendy's wanted to be, but the dude wouldn't sell out to
Dave back in the day ;) I ventured over to my Uncle's off SR 81 where the
Ottawa River meanders behind his house. His house is on top of some glacial
flush, probably a small terminal moraine from a minor advance (I have yet to
verify this), and the stream cuts right along side it at this point. It's
probably an 80' drop from his back deck to the plain. Good sized pile of
schtuff. The stream features at this point are somewhat sedimented and
fairly mature, but the bottom is still gravel and sand... Just had a touch
of the evil done upstream a few miles in Hog Creek. It's good sunfish
habitat, in any case, with all the root wads and undercuts the ravine
Hog Creek was always synonmous with "trashed" when I was growing up in Lima.
If something was wet and dirty or messy, it was "like Hog Crick". I'm not
amused with the analogy any longer.. It's not Hog Creek's fault they dozed
it into a straight ditch (page 46 in your Ohio DeLorme B2-B3) and then lined
it with tilled fields. Certainly no sin like the channelization of say, the
Kissimmee River in Florida, but disgusting none the less, as I have no
doubts this watershed held some of the prairie region of western Ohio's best
diversity. The silts choked out all the suckers tho, that's for sure, and
it's always a suprise to the local folks that there's any fish in there _do
not_ have "like 18 eyes and stuff".
It may yet again tho... There's been an impressive effort to clean up the
Ottawa. There are "This is X Creek, Ottawa River Watershed" signs
everywhere now. Even cooler... "This is X DITCH, Ottawa River Watershed".
I need to find out who came up with putting the signs up for the ditches
because that just plain rules. I would like to thank them personally :)
So I visited with my uncle and another cousin (the other sister's kid) who
just happened to be in town. It was a nice visit, but I'm learning that if
I have any expectations of getting any fishing done around relatives, I'm
kidding myself. It was however, a great opportunity to get them familiar
with what I've been doing and so forth. Mind you, this is my uncle the
woodpecker killer, who feels it's better to just shoot the birds when they
drum on his house than try anything to make them find other spots to do
their thing. He is basically my nemesis, he works at a petroleum refinery
as an intermediary between production and Regulation, made comments about
driving his Yukon over my Saturn, bought a $250k house in nature for it's
soothing pleasures, and then kills it when it bothers him... But he does
keep me honest and focused on "conservation" and "partnering" and not
wavering off into the gray areas surrounding fanatical "environmentalism".
So he's not a bad guy... We just think different. And that makes the world
go round :)
The stream on his property was also at an awkward level. Places where
undercuts would hold sunfish were moving too quickly, the open habitat was
too deep to push. I was really limited by these factors. I caught a
handful of small longear and green sunnies, one nice longear and pile of
redfin shiners, bluntnose minnows and johnny darters. I think at some
point, we'll organize a collecting trip where we can use his house as a
"home base". He and my Aunt both expressed that they thought it would be
neat, and if my uncles back is in good shape, he'd prolly join us. Not just
to sample at their house...
The real party is down the road where the river cuts _through_ the
"moraine". The stream segment is awesome. Big "small to medium rock"
riffles (like 3'-5' drops on a 20' wide segment!) and awesome gravelly pools
below that I'll need another brailman to work. I think the water is
accelerated through here fast enough in higher water to avoid dropping its
silt load, and the habitat has been maintained wonderfully. There really
weren't signs of enrichment either. I think the farm fertilizers fly
through here along with the silt load. _Big_ oaks, cottonwoods and
sycamores line the stream, big enough that I'd say it hadn't been cleared in
a good 100 years minimum. There are cows and farm fields lining it, but
this is a perfect example of co-habitation. The riparian buffers are big
enough to maintain the stream, but small enough that it doesn't look like
someone is loosing the farm trying to save the "fishes n clams" (as in, you
could say to someone "That's all you gotta do" and they say "That's it?").
Oh... And my relatives go to church with the property owners, so we may have
full access all the way through the moraine. :)
I drove a road down to the largest riffle. It had easements I could walk
down from a bridge (as I didn't have permission just then to cross the
neighbor's property). I found _lots_ of longear but the real suprise
happened up at the riffle lining the pool (about a 5' drop). I had plenty
of longear and a couple rock bass for the school project... So I started
fussin around with the non-sunnie habitat. First seine haul?
IS THAT A RAINBOW DARTER!?!
HOO-AH! This is the first time I've found caeruleum in the Maumee
Watershed. And they're, in my opinion, much much more attractive than the
Ohio River Watershed "brand", even in comparing the recently "out of
breeding" new captures to "breeding conditioned" specimens I've had for a
year. Comparing them to more recent aquistions from the Darby and Paint
Creek, there's just no comparison.
The blues on these fish are more intense and prevelant. The pelvic fins
look almost purple (almost clear in Ohio R), the orange/red stripes on the
caudal are framed in dark blue (just orange/red stripes with weak blue in
Ohio R), as are the orange rays on the anal fin (the orange only becomes
prevelant on the Ohio R). The second dorsal is the real treat... If Gibson
Guitars ever made a "vintage sunburst" out of blue, orange, white and
black... These fish would be the model. Oh my are they goregous! And the
females are almost like getting another species of darter with a very gold
body and lots of blue and orange in the finage.
I quickly nabbed a couple specimens to put in the 30 gallon so I could
compare them to the Ohio Watershed ones in the 75... I also nabbed a
greenside and a fantail. I've recently had success with providing enough
nutrition for greenside darters (where I've failed miserably in the past)
using frozen mysid shrimp and spending the extra money to get the new Hikari
line of frozen foods instead of the SF Bay brand... I thought I'd bring one
more home so I could show my Aunt and Uncle what lives right down the
street. They were... Ummm... Impressed.
I always love it when silence is the only thing you hear for a few seconds
when someone gets their first look at a darter. :)
Darkness was falling, and I had friends to meet in Lima for dinner... So
that was about all the fishin I got in that day.
November 22, 2003 Swan Creek, Lucas County, Ohio
Like I said, I have never seen so many juvenile perch. One seine haul had
at least 50 in it. Amazing. Also found some of the cutest logperch... They
would have either gone home or into a jar for a special someone, but they
kinda got dumped when I needed to split. A spottail shiner was probably
the most interesting catch. I hadn't seen them this far upstream. I
usually find them only out in the wave zones in the open lake.
Also found a round goby, and disposed of it. That gives me mixed feelings
about tearing the dams out, as the stream habitat isn't great habitat for
them, but wouldn't be inhibiting as it's fairly flat... Once they got into
the source ditches and prairies... They could really screw some things up
that are already in limited habitat. Hopefully mudminnows handle them
better than spoonhead sculpins.
I can't think of anything else interesting, and you already know the rest of
this story, so on with Sunday!
November 23, 2003 Blanchard River, Hancock and Wyandot Counties, Ohio
--- A first happened this day.
I woke up and said "I DON'T WANT TO GO FISHIN'!"
Unfortunately, the fella I was meeting up with only had a cellphone and had lost his charger the weekend before, so I didn't have any other way of getting out of it without standing him up :) I was sore, I had a nasty cough, I'd never met the dude. Ugh. By the grace of Diet Coke, so went I.
I'm really happy I went though. When my wife got her new job, she had sent out my webpage link in her introduction. One of the gals on her team I guess exclaimed "Oh my gosh! This guy is Sean!" She was right. So she sent him off an email and he looked through and he got ahold of me. It's funny how things work out. He's in a similar situation as I was a year ago, feeling stuck and weird. I think he's a potentially brilliant natural historian and ecologist, he's already well founded in aquaria and native plant landscaping... We just have to get him in the field more often and reading some books about what his real passions are... And out of his Mid-Ohio Factory Environmental Health and Saftey job :)
I know what that feels like... You're like "all I wanted to do was study diversity (but didn't know how to define 'that' when you were 18) and here I am pigeonholed into an environment where 'diversity' is pretty much just a two day class you take so you can be 'tolerant' and not get the company sued for making some ignorant remark". Know how that feels? Get ahold of me... You have options, and it doesn't have to be just in a biology type job. Find your passions and run with them!
And thus ends the Farmertodd Gospel Hour. :)
Back to the fish... Sean had some streams/ditches that they had played in as kids. He remembered catching beautiful little fish, "chubs" with really blue heads, etc and wanted to go back and revisit.
The first site was barely a trickle, but was loaded with blackstripe topminnows and orangethroats. Also found one juv black bullhead. The second site was a bit larger and had a pool under a bridge. Similar story, excpet throw in some redfin shiners, white sucker, and silverjaws. The topminnows at this site were _huge_. I've never seen them this big, they looked like olivaceous :)
The third site was a much larger "ditch". It had some sediment stratification by some plant I couldn't identify. It was submerged and held the sediments together nicely. I later confirmed that this drains what used to be an extensive wetland (I had made some guestimates on the water). A fen component still exists in the Springville State Marsh Preserve, which makes this genotype a good candidate for tolerant of hard water source in aquaria... I need to get ahold of somebody from DNAP to understand the complete historical picture of this area.
So even though the sides are horribly agricultural with zero riparian intervention, this stream segment is still in decent shape. I expect to find horneyhead chub, western creek chubsucker and least darter there in the future, especially if I can get another brailman there with me. Will be inte resting to bring home vouchers next time, as I just thought "OhWhat we did see on this day was the best conglomeration of the "basics" of west ohio priaire fish communities that I've seen anywhere yet. One seine haul pulled about 100 redfin shiners... Topminnows were abundant... Longear were everywhere. I nabbed a nice grass pickerel. That had Sean pretty stoked.
I also have a current converstation with the boyz at OSUM about wether I found emerald, silver or roseyface shiners. We're not going to know until I get back down there... The whole concept of vouchers is becoming very clear and pertinent to me, especially since I'm doing all this work that can be used by other folks and agencies.
The good news is... The "Three Tank Rule" is off... We'll just chalk it up to the "Three Dog Clause" ;) I'll have lots of tank space next year to bring critters home, identify, photograph, study and then decide if I need to pickle them or not. Kinda beats just throwing it in a jar streamside and really maximizes the information we can get out of a specimen.
So his home turf is definately a spot to hit in the spring when different species may be in more of a conglomerative behavior. We then did a quick take on the Blanchard proper... Found more rainbow darters in the Maumee Watershed... The sample was quick tho and fairly diverseless. I don't know if recent high water moved stuff out of there (it was high gradient, faaaast water with bedrock lined pools) or if it just sucks. That's the cool part... We can find out later :)
I decided not to put a whole list of fish here because I think the narrative is probably more interesting. If you would like to see what we did on Saturday, I have a word document "trip report" with pictures and all that I made up so Sean could post it at work and show his family. It's 2.5mb, but might be worth a looky. If you wanna, the url is: http://www.farmertodd.com/nanfa/sean/
That's about it in the Farmertodd Wide World of Fish. Well, the collecting part anyway. I'm off to figure out how to make a $45 canister filter that will kick an eheim's butt and exists in-tank without being obnoxious. I think I have it figured out... Just need some strata and put it together. If it works out, I will post. Off to the fish shop! :)
Todd It's never too late to have a happy childhood. http://www.farmertodd.com /----------------------------------------------------------------------------- /"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily / reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes / Association" / This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association / nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word / subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to / nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to / nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead. / For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org