NANFA-- Winter Collecting Observations, Ohio Meeting Teaser

Mark (
Tue, 17 Feb 2004 13:19:23 -0500

Here's a teaser for a winter NANFA meet in Ohio. I haven't been
reading the NANFA list, so I'm just shooting this off blind with no
idea what's been going on. If you reply to this post, copy me at since I'm not keeping up with the NANFA list,
so I'll likely miss your email.

2-15-2004. Went out today to get some feeders for a couple of
pickerels. The high was about 30 degrees F. The water temp was
about 35 degrees F. Went to Sippo Creek NE of Massillon Ohio at
Kenyon Road. This is about 30 minutes from Wooster. Take 30 East to
172. Turn north on Kenyon NW Road after passing the Ace Hardware and
Highway Patrol office. Stop at the bike path crossing and walk east,
down the path until you reach the creek. I started out going
downstream into a wooded section. This is fairly well preserved and
undisturbed. Natural, winding course. Sandy, pebble substrate.
Fairly clear water. We observed lots of fishes in this stream in the
summer. Today, I did not see a single fish in the water. I hiked in
a ways and started seining in likely places. Due to a recent warm
spell - lower 30's - the ice was off the stream except for some thin
stuff along the margins. The only fish I could catch at first were
sculpins. They were present even in very shallow riffles - 4 to 6
inches deep. Some very large ones were hiding in deeper areas with
more cover. Finally, I flushed some minnows out of areas of slow
water and dense cover of dead vegetation and tree roots. Mainly
creek chubs, some stonerollers and a few blacknose dace. Also two
species of crawfish (only two animals found) and one rainbow darter.
Many of the fishes here have an attractive yellow-orangish color.
Practically nothing other than sculpins were found in the usually
fish-rich, pool, run and riffle microhabitats. In the summer, there
would be many fishes in these areas. After observing some of the
fishes released back into the water, it seems that the cold temps
make them very sluggish and unable to negotiate the faster flowing
areas. Even a large sculpin placed in a shallow run was carried
downstream, backwards until he reached slower water. Apparently the
bottom hugging habit of the sculpins allows them to creep into the
higher flow areas and hold their positions, while other species are
confined to very still, sheltered areas. Despite the low temps, the
exertion of working a 4'x 8' seine solo was enough to make me
uncomfortably warm in my neoprene waders. On the way out, I followed
the stream past the bike path and into the open area that is being
prepared for a new housing development. No tall trees, but lots of
brown grasses along the stream bank and small shrubby trees. This
section is fully exposed to the sun. I had decided not to seine
anymore, but as I entered one large, quiet pool, I saw a big school
of large minnows coming downstream. Dropping the net, it was easy to
encircle a group of the sluggish fish in the small stream. Brought
up a net full of very big and healthy creek chubs, stonerollers,
bluntnose minnows, white suckers and attractively marked blacknose
dace. Also a single, giant striped shiner. Such a sharp contrast
between the wooded stretch and the open stretch. I suppose the water
gets warmer here where the sun can shine on it. Is the clearing of
the forest beneficial to the fishes? Maybe only in the winter?
Maybe only those which like or can tolerate warmer water. Of course
the overall temperature of the stream increases since the water is
flowing and mixing all summer.

Here are some winter collecting tips: 1. If you wear wading shoes
with laces, remember to untie them as soon as you get out of the
water. Otherwise, you'll be wearing them until they thaw out again.
2. Keep the seine in the stream or it will quickly solidify into a
stiff, icy block. The rocks that get frozen to it while you sort
your catch will fall off once you put it back in the water. 3.
Always take a buddy along in case you fall in and get hypothermia.
My buddy today was Jesus :) 4. Neoprene gloves keep the hands warm
and comfy even when wet. 5. When you get home, take the wet nets,
waders and shoes inside with you. Otherwise, you won't be able to
fish again until the spring thaw. 6. Fishes brought in from such
cold water must be acclimated slowly, though you can pack an amazing
number of fish into a small volume of 35 degree water as long as it
stays that cold. Here's my technique: Pour the fish in the cold
stream water into a clean bucket. I sterilize one with hot tap
water. Let your tap run for a while to run the cold water as cold as
it will get. Measure the temp of the stream water, and that of your
tap water, to see how close they are. Our tap water is running about
50 degrees right now. Draw a bucket of tap water, adding
dechlorinator as you fill it. Drop an air stone, attached to a
running pump, into the bucket of fish. Then add a portion of the tap
water to the fish bucket to start bringing up the temp and to dilute
the fish and their waste and provide more oxygen-carrying water.
Cover the bucket. I use a special plastic lid with a door that
allows the airline to pass through. I always cover unattended fish
containers, since most fishes, when confined, will attempt to jump
out. The air pump will be moving warm room air through the water and
will slowly warm it over time to the same temp as the room. Once
the fish reach the temp of my tap water, I empty an aquarium,
cleaning it while it drains, and then refill it with water that
matches the temp of the water in the fish bucket. Then I can dump
the fish directly into the tank, no problem. The pump or filter in
the tank will continue to warm the water slowly, giving the fish time
to adjust to the warmer water, lower oxygen content and higher
metabolism as their cold bodies warm up. Fish, being cold-blooded,
experience drastic changes in their body functions as the water temp

So I'm thinking an Ohio winter NANFA meet is in order. There are
several new members in the area, and it would be good to get together
and socialize to get the year started. Denizens of nearby (or far!)
states are encouraged to join in. Maybe Todd can come and present
some info about the Tippecanoe trip coming this spring. How 'bout a
fish room tour? If anyone is feeling hardy enough, we could do a
stream dip or two. We'll be happy to host y'all here. Email me at with dates that might work. If there isn't a
promising day, I'll just pick one and whoever can make it will get
the benefit of our warm hospitality :) Here's an account of last
years meeting: If you
reply to this post, copy me at since I'm not
keeping up with the NANFA list, so I'll likely miss your email.

Wooster Ohio

Please visit for all your fish collecting
and aquarium supplies, books and livestock. We ship all year. Live
delivery guaranteed.
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