NANFA-- Soque River snorkeling

Roselawn Museum (
Mon, 16 Jul 2001 10:14:13 -0400

Saturday, my stepson, his friend, and I went over to snorkel in the Soque
River near Clarksville, GA. My ace navigator had studied the maps all week
to find a good spot. This one was more than good! I know I brag a lot about
the beauty of Georgia, but this place looked like something out of a
picture postcard. Coming down out of a hill, the stream has a series of
flat rock shelves before leveling out into open water and widely spaced
rapids. The water was extremely clear, and we had to walk several hundred
yards upstream from the Highway 197 to get above the trout fishermen (and
the gawk factor). Some folks just can't get used to seeing people in
wetsuits in inland streams.

Anyway, I hadn't intended to collect any fish (I should know better than
that by now), but the ones we encountered were too cool to pass on. I'm
still working on the ID (I finally got a Peterson's last Friday).
Tentatively, it looks like we've got some dusky stripe shiners and some
cardinal shiners. Many of the males are in full breeding color and quite
active. Learning to collect them underwater has been a whole new
experience. In this instance, I held a small, black trout net in my right
hand and used my left hand to spook the fish toward it. As they reacted to
the hand movement, I swooped in from the right with the net, usually
bagging two or three fish. As I got better at it, I was able to target
individual fish with reasonable success. Thus, I ended up clearing out a
20gal for these beautiful new arrivals. Even without color, some of these
fish are great to look at. The wide, black lateral stripes contrast with
the pale bodies like miniature orcas. Add in the bright red fins, and they
make quite a spectacle.

Other fish I saw included a wide variety of darters that I can't begin to
ID, nor did I collect any. Some of them were unusually large, approaching
the size of small logperch, though no logperch were seen. Very few sunfish
here, but I did see what looked like some greens. Of course, there was an
abundance of mostly small trout. I bagged one long enough to take his
picture, then released him. (The GA game wardens may not be too sharp on
their "minners", but they can spot trout in a heartbeat!). I think the one
I shot was a small brook. If you'd like a copy of the photo, contact me
off-list and I'll shoot it to you. More and more, as I find myself drifting
through moss-covered underwater canyons, I wonder why I waited so long to
get into snorkeling. Hey Mark, if you ever get down to GA, you just gotta'
see this place!

All The Best,

Steven A. Ellis
Kennesaw, GA

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