NANFA-- a small trip

Bruce Stallsmith (
Sun, 23 Jul 2000 22:13:58 EDT

I made a short solo trip today to the Mountain Fork of the Flint River in
the NE corner of Madison County, AL. This system is the next one west of the
Paint Rock River in Jackson County, separated by a low range of 300-400
meter mountains. I collected where the stream becomes permanently above
ground; 2 or 3 km upstream it becomes intermittent this time of year
although its origin, a series of springs, apparently flows constantly. But
they're on public lands surrounded by gated private property, requiring more
preparation than I made today...

Working with a push net I caught lots of fish, esp. juveniles. There were
the (dreaded) stonerollers, of course (Campostoma oligolepis). The only
shiners I found were Rosefin Shiners (Lythrurus ardens fasciolaris), 3
adults and a bunch of juveniles. These guys are common as dirt around here,
but make good aquarium fish; they're active and will eat anything offered
including generic flakes. Also caught but released were several Banded
sculpins, Dave Neely's pals of the erstwhile Cottus carolinae.

The interesting part of the collection was three species of darter. I kept
two (I think) black darters, Etheostoma duryi; now I'm certain they're Eth.
duryi rather than the similar Tennessee Red-Lined snubnose, Eth. simoterum,
which I've found in the Brier Fork of the Flint. I also found, most
abundantly, fantail darters (Eth. flabellare) including one large adult male
about 7 cm long, and stripetail darters (Eth. kennicotti). The stripetails
are slightly heavier bodied, have lighter colored bodies and have a distinct
spot at the base of the tail. But I could be wrong, they're only 3-4 cm long
and may just be flabellare. We'll see, I already have some in an aquarium
and they've done well.

Nothing way exciting (I was hoping for killifish, especially) but it was
fun. This spot is also thick with crayfish of several different species, I'm
still ignorant of local crayfish taxonomy.

As a possible suggestion for everyone else in & around the Tennessee Valley,
if it's not possible to collect in Georgia as we've planned because of
drought/low water a trip to the Flint's various forks is an alternative.
It's been dry here but has rained some, so there is a reasonable amount of
water in the streams. And the various forks are also clear, so snorkeling is
possible (although maybe not as spectacular as, say, the Little River or

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL

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