RE: NANFA-- quick trip to se arkansas

Chip Rinehart (
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 14:16:27 -0500

Great write-up Casper. I'd almost like to read the un-edited version (with
all the lies and exaggerations). Hope your dad continues to do well.

(wondering where all this ice came from)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [SMTP:Prizma at]
> Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 1:14 PM
> To:
> Subject: NANFA-- quick trip to se arkansas
> this post is not full of fish but it is a bit fishy... ive carefully
> re-edited it to remove all the exaggerations and lies... some of it is
> more
> personal and journalistic but it keeps the fish mongering relevant.
> 2/8/03 se arkansas
> i recently returned from a drive over to se arkansas to visit my father
> after
> his unexpected lung surgery. he is a long time smoker and they had to
> remove
> a portion of his lung that contained a small but dormant tumor. hopefully
> they removed all the cancer but he still must consult w/ his surgeon and a
> cancer specialist about ongoing treatment and concerns. my intentions were
> to
> help care for him after his hospital stay but he was up and moving around
> very well within 4 or 5 days after the surgery. at 66 i think he could
> still
> take me on... and out! :) they broke a rib in removing the smaller lobe of
> his right lung and this seemed to cause him the most pain. morphine and
> rest
> had relieved his first days after the surgery.
> i choose to drive over by dropping through birmingham and crossing
> straight
> through mississippi and on into arkansas. martin moore had not recommended
> any site along this route so i focused on the drive and decided to
> concentrate any fish activity near my dad's place just below pine bluff,
> arkansas. this was my first wander along this route and to this region.
> the
> land became flat, flat and flatter. cotton fields were everywhere along
> with
> their straight channelized ditches. miles and miles of plowed fields. i
> had
> purchased a arkansas gazateer prior to the trip and had found that the
> area
> south of pine bluff was covered in fish farms. i was eager to visit a few
> and
> see what was in them. after crossing the mississippi river in greenville
> and
> on my way into arkansas i dippnetted a few outflow ditchs of these fish
> farms. tons of mosquito fish. nothing else. i later learned they were all
> catfish farms. i had been considering they were bait fish farms as a truck
> from arkansas delivers all kinds of fish to farm ponders at the local
> co-op
> in chattanooga. but all these were catfish farms. everywhere. eat more
> catfish. the bait fish farms are in the north closer to the mountains.
> fayetteville in the nw.
> i arrived at his home the following afternoon and we had an evening of
> relaxation, shared memories and concerns for the future and his health.
> the next morning feeling like the fresh air and a gentle activity would be
> benefitial he took me to a waterway called bayou bartholomew. it is a long
> meandering stream drifting through cypress trees and knees. at one time it
> was an awesome site full of indians and legends. now many plowed fields
> back
> up to it and the once tea clear water is now dank and muddy. i dipnetted
> along a step bank while he chatted with an old timer friend of his. the
> man
> spoke of his days of trout lines, fish traps and the deep mysterious
> waters.
> he is 91 and still lives along the same banks. a veteran of the pacific
> war
> he is quite proud of the lush vegetables he grows in this rich soil of the
> ancient floodplains. old fish traps and rusty farm gear adorned his 3
> walled
> creek side shed.
> after some sweet milk, lemon cake and well wishes from the man and his
> wife
> my father took me to a site on the other side of the bayou. suprisingly it
> featured a low dam and rough cobbled river crossing. the water must have
> dropped at least 4' at this point. i could not figure where the gradiant
> come
> from! the landscape all seemed as flat as flat is. it was a nice spot and
> i
> was able to dipnet up vast quanities of gambusia but also several banded
> pygmy sunfish, glass shrimp and what i think are dwarf crayfish like the
> ones
> gator bruce recently sent me. i also collected lots of small sunfish of
> which
> i brought 4 differently marked and very small juveniles home so as to
> watch
> them develop. i also placed my net in the outflow riffles of the cobbled
> dam
> and collected a couple bluntnose darters, a first for me and a very gravid
> blackside darter. i think this is the only time i have ever knowingly
> crushed
> a fish while turning about the cobble. sadly the female was ruptured and
> the
> eggs were oozing out. ive always been amazed how fish have always seem to
> get
> out of the way of this behavior. none the less i try to minimize any
> excessive substrate disturbance. this is another reason why snorkling
> makes
> such a pleasant and non abtrusive method of observation. the water here
> was
> almost clear enough to make a go of snorkling. the dam seemed to allow
> some
> settling and the cold i suspect kept the algae in check. i wished i had
> brought along my small siene. i could have easily cornered some shiners...
> which are very difficult to catch with a dipnet. i also caught a lot of
> black
> spotted topminnows, a few blacktail shiners and a couple darters unknown
> to
> me... even after pouring over the books for several hours. this will be a
> great site to return to.
> he then took me to the saline river where in addition to the previous
> species
> i caught some brook silversides. the river offered very nice sand bottomed
> flows, a spattering of bankside vegatation and driftwooded back water
> eddies.
> i was able to put on the waders and work a 100 yard side of the river.
> large
> schools of very small and still unknown minnows hugged the shallows. i
> brought home close to a dozen so as to watch them develop and maybe id in
> the
> future. three silversides survived the 4 days in my airiated cooler and
> the
> drive home but almost immediatly succumbed in my florida 55 tank. such a
> unique body shape, fin alignment and transparency. very pretty.
> the following day after visiting his doctor in pine bluff we rode over to
> the
> arkansas river at a site just below a dam that looked to drop 20 or 30
> feet.
> here to were long winding sand beaches that urged you to wander endlessly
> downstream. i tried to get my dad to walk with me but i think the cold
> wind
> was a bit snappy and my eagerness to far going for his desire. still tho
> we
> were able to check out the concreted boat ramp, big uprooted logs strung
> along the bank and a few pools along the beach. the water here too was
> possibly clear enough at times to snorkle. ive learned that the flows
> below
> dams can provide clarity... a settling of the waters above the dam.
> a day later we drove south below monticello to the deer camp where as a
> boy
> of 10 i shot and killed the one and only deer in my life... a 13 point. a
> lot
> of huntsmen were very jealous that day! it was like a time warp to go back
> to
> a site from my youth's memory, 35 years back and again seeing just about
> every detail, location and structure or where it once stood. memories of
> sitting at a kerosene lite table doing homework, watching men eat squirrel
> brains spread upon a broiler platter, learning the goodness of biscuits,
> sorgum molasses and butter, witnessing the great leonid meteor shower of
> 1966. sitting around the camp stove at night and hearing all their wild
> woods
> hunting lore. leaving we drove down to brown creek that flows behind the
> camp
> and i was able to collect a few banded pygmy sunfish along with one pirate
> perch. i now know why ive been so confused in the past during my florida
> trips with these 2 species... especially when they are both small. both
> share
> the same purplish gut area along with a fairly similiar body shape. and
> both
> will lay at the bottom of a tank during observation. i think this is now
> another 2 species that i will be able to quickly id in the field.
> that evening we visited a friend of dad's. a fellow that grew up in this
> land
> hunting, fishing and exploring the deep isolated expanses. his stories
> lasted
> well into the night... pulling gators from his fish nets, stretching trout
> lines across swamps, saving his dogs from enraged wild hogs, pulling loads
> of
> buffalo fish, bowfins and crappie into his boat. he had photos, albums and
> newspaper clippings to back his stories up. he pulled out his dusty
> massive
> fish hoop traps, seines and gill nets and illustrated their use and
> techniques. he had worked through his younger years by these activities.
> he
> spoke of the hundreds of water moccasins piled up on a beaver dam in a
> breedi
> ng mass. and the time as a boy deep in the bayou and looking into the
> water
> and seeing an eye the size of a saucer gazing up at him. a gar longer than
> the boat! yes i think he may have exaggerated but the stories were vivid
> and
> full of life in the wild. old dusty fish mounts, skulls, antique prints
> and
> snakeskins were buried back in his closets. he pulled out old photos that
> showed me as a child sitting with the big buck i had just shot. he found
> the
> old camp journal describing my hunt, the time and place, the bucks size,
> rack
> and weight and the emotion of that day long ago written in an unknown
> hand.
> we dusted off photos and newspaper clippings of the black panther hoax. a
> devious forward placement of a common black cat carcass alongside some
> deer
> carcasses had greatly exaggerated the "panther's" size and the word was a
> large male had gotten away. all the town folk spent sleepless nights
> behind
> bolted doors and shuttered windows until the truth was eventually
> revealed.
> he spoke of a real panther following him and his father for 3 hours
> through
> the dark night snarling with blood curdling yeows. hair burning straight
> up
> his neck. ive been promised a siene drag through some back waters on my
> next
> visit. he also told me of "blow outs". areas where the river alters course
> and the water is deep and clear. i may not make it back! he may make a
> story
> out of that fella from tennessee that wanted to snorkle a deep hole!
> i spent another day with my father and wished him well and a promised
> return
> in early may w/ my son. i headed out in the icing noon rain and just
> before i
> crossed the mississippi i saw a sign that said aquaculture something. i
> did a
> quick u-turn and pulled into the lot. a small store filled with catfish
> raising equipment and supplies. pumps, gadgets, chemicals, nets and
> gizmos.
> we shared a few quick stories, i showed him my fishes of tn book and i
> told
> him of my ongoing cement pond experiment. he said i should check out the
> trade show over in mississippi and that it was on my way home. i got
> directions and within a half hour i was walking past a 8' long fiberglass
> catfish painted with the red, white and blue. inside were all kinds of
> giant
> motorized paddle wheeled aireators. the game & fish authorities and
> regional
> universities had displays set up featuring their knowledge and service. i
> picked up all kinds of literature on the aquaculture of shrimp, prawns,
> catfish, fish and baitfish. i sampled every kind of catfish cooking from
> booths boasting of new recipes and techniques. i studied all kinds of
> monitoring devices for ph, oxygen, temp and water quality... solar
> powered,
> infra red transmitted and satellite cordinated. displays and samples of
> new
> feed offering vitamin suppliments and growth enhancement. this stuff was
> big
> time and well beyond my little cement pond plaything. however i sure would
> like to walk up to my sliding glass door overlooking the pool and look at
> a
> panel readout and monitor my ph, dissolved oxygen and temperature. about a
> thousand bucks should do it! the ongoing time and a long drive lay ahead
> motivated me to walk one last pass. i snatched one more piece of catfish,
> a
> aireator cozy and headed for the door.
> ive learned the area a bit, studied the maps and books and will not leave
> behind my minnow trap or seine next time. when i return to arkansas for
> bill's smelly but fun ozark adventure i will spend another week exploring
> these swampy lowlands and the other range of arkansas mountains... the
> ouachitas. out of which flows the famous hot springs. im eager to return
> and
> do it right! i might even get a massage in that old town with the hot
> mineral
> waters.
> casper
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/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
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/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,