Re: NANFA-- NE GA & SW NC wanders

Roselawn Museum (
Wed, 17 Jul 2002 09:35:16 -0400

Yo Casper

Thanks for sharing. In true Star Wars fashion, your sequel has preceded my
tardy report (done soon...promise!). I assure you, whether they respond on
the list or not, people (myself included) enjoy hearing about your travels.
As for the leeches, now you know why I opted for a full suit instead of a
shorty. On the other hand, I make a much smaller meal. (-:

Steven A. Eliis
Kennesaw, GA
(Trip report pending)

At 01:53 AM 7/17/02 EDT, you wrote:
>Gee Wiz...
>Two long distance travels in two weekends with only a wee bit of
snorkling. :(
>major withdrawl symptoms.
>The long drought in the region was replaced with summer rains at all the
>locations i have visited of late. I'm not to complain of the much needed
>but my timing was out of sync with mother nature. However this disapointment
>was offset by exploring new roads, towns and spending time with excellent
>people. I have not posted about my intense two week Florida wanderings nor
>the wonderful time Ranger Bob and Rangerette Betsy provided for John and i.
>There are so many people in NANFA that are of the finest and i want to
>the appreciation and pleasure i share with them. I thank all of you
>accordingly. It takes a lot of time to write ( and edit, and correctly spell
>and rewrite and capitalize! ) and prep these posts, photos and reports and i
>often wonder how many people read or appreciate them. There have been times
>that some people will find some small, petty thing they dislike and make a
>public snort of it and yet overlook, and thus show their unappreciation for
>the larger value and the extensive time and dedication that an individual
>spends in presenting and attempting to share native fish experiences. With
>this in my mind i have not taken the time of late to document the extensive
>trips thru the springs, swamps, ditches and creeks of the Florida panhandle
>nor the excellent time i had at Ranger Bob's Fisheree. I hope to be
>that the time spent in presenting these reports is appreciated.
>With that in mind i will attempt to suppliment the ( forthcoming? ) report
>the NE Georgia Tulluaha Falls foray organized by the motivated and
>enthusiastic Steven Ellis, your NANFA Georgia Rep. I know that Steve
>had asked for any input or comments to his reports and very few responses
>were posted. Im concerned that the time spent on these reports may not be
>appreciated but by a very few. I need reassurance that they are valued,
>enjoyed and appreciated. If they are not i am not motivated to continue
>expending the time necessary to present them. So let me know.
>After the group split down twice it was left with Fritz Rhode and myself in
>Bryson City, NC. After a full day of cold, overcast rains, slippery knee
>twisting and chasing the ever ellusive Tangerine Darters i was exhausted. We
>found a neat motel that was perched over the swollen, muddy river. The
>location must have been beautiful the week before, but now the river was
>anything but inviting. A hot, refreshing shower brought us back to
>and we drove around the town a bit exploring the shops, landmarks and
>architecture and found a restaurant high on a ridge that provided us one of
>the best meals ive ever sat down to. Wonderfully prepared and garnished with
>a giant sprig of dill the meal was of a mighty fine class. Rainbow trout and
>pork ribs were shared with all the wonderful trimmings and elaborate
>garnishments. We studied the maps and enjoyed a nice evening discussing all
>kinds of things and prepared for three sites to visit the next morning. We
>sought out higher streams to hopefully offset the muddy, rain swollen water
>downstream found in the larger rivers.
>The first site, which we had scouted the night before, had lowered in water
>level and was noticably clearer. I opted however to move further upstream to
>increase the odds of more clarity. With the day still early, still chilly,
>the skies overcast and drizzlily the murky water did not provide much
>motivation. I made the plunge out of hope, desire and maybe a hint of
>desperation. With my limited viewing and Fritz's dippnetting we only found
>Orange Side Dace, Hog Suckers, Creek Chubbs, Stone Rollers and a few Rainbow
>Trout. Cold and wet we loaded up and headed to the head waters of the
>Nantahala River for perhaps greater diversity. It was a small stream that
>been surveyed back in the sixties and was told to hold Saffron Shiners which
>i was eager to see again. Once again the murkiness of the water and the
>overcast skies prevented any valued, prolonged and distinct observations.
>Fairly miserable, worn and dissappointed as i was being skunked for a solid
>two weekends in a row we considered our options. We decided to skip our
>site as the weather continued to drizzle and Fritz had a long drive ahead of
>him. In studying my return route options Fritz suggested i explore the
>River... which flows thru Andrews NC and onto Murphy. On the map the terrain
>is interesting being it is a distinct valley so i chose to follow his advice
>and in the hopes of seeing some new critters. Crossing up and out of the
>Nantahala gorge i began to descend into the valley. I studied the TN
>and sought to gain access at the first flows suitable for snorkling. I found
>it at a small bridge off the main road and got my gear together. I worked my
>way down the steep bank to the creek. The skies were still overcast but the
>water was fairly clear. I immediatly observed Mirror Shiners, a recent
>species for me that ive learned to ID fairly quickly. It has a unique,
>blunted snout and very torpedo shaped body. A small triangular mark resides
>at the caudal fin base. The males can be stunning with excellent color and a
>enlarged dorsal fin. I have kept one from the Hiwassee River for over a year
>in a 29 gallon planted Eclipse tank. A very interesting fish that is fun to
>observe. They were plentiful but the males had seemed to have lost color and
>their bodies and fins were a bit worn and tattered. Several large Rainbow
>Trout swung wildly around me in a deep pool below the main riffle. They
>offered a prolonged view tho i had seen plenty enough already that day from
>tiny 1.5" juveniles to these large 18" Christmas Turkey Rainbows. I was
>looking for more and new species. All the standard locals were there that i
>had seen during the last 2 weekends and commonly in my region. Creek Chubbs,
>Stone Rollers, Hog Suckers, Whitetail and Warpaint Shiners. Only a couple
>Darters appeared and i was unsure of what they were due to the visibility.
>i moved quietly i looked down to see a large Hellbender working along the
>bottom nosing into dark crevases hunting crawdads. I reached down to clasp
>him but after a few seconds of my holding him he squirmed wildly and
>slipperied out of my grasp and dissappeared in the murky water. I went back
>to my exploring up and down the flow looking for anything new and in hopes
>seeing him again. Every once in a while a bit of golden sunshine filtered
>thru the clouds, lifting my spirit and provided a fleeting glimpse of
>radiance. I was being lurred on. Making one final pass to the riffle above i
>found the Hellbender's tail protruding from beneath a large rock and being
>far more patient and tender with the beast i eased him into the shallows
>where i could observe him more closely. What a cool creature! Large, rust
>colored flappy skin, a very flat head and the tinest of eyes. Cute little
>highlighted toes adorned his feet. I was saddened to remember how many are
>killed by fearing folks screaming "Devil Dogs!" I have found several dead
>along banks of streams where fisherman have killed them thinking they were
>venomous. It was very gentle and somewhat unafraid of my passive yet
>observations. I had seen one just a few weeks before in the Hiwassee, dead,
>recently strangled by fishing line ensnared about his body. A long gruesome
>death it must have experienced. I wish i could have found it before the
>monoline strangled his body to death. What a pleasant memory that would have
>provided. He would have told all his buddies and i would have been more
>welcomed on my trips below. After a few more minutes i let the Hellbender
>pass beneath me and watched it descend to the pool's depths and return to
>hunting crawfish. I hope to see many more.
>I returned to the van and headed downstream to larger waters and a greater
>diversity... the Valley River proper. Still overcast and even more murky
>waters, no site seemed inviting. Several times i walked into the waters edge
>but the cold and overcast skies talked me out of pulling my mask down and
>laying in the water. I just was not up to getting in cold water where i
>not see well. I endlessly debated with myself as to what to do. I studied
>map and decided to follow a few tribs upstream seeking clarity. One stream
>looked promising but lead directly to a large, industrial, chicken factory /
>farm with all its horrible smells. I was not about to get in water anywhere
>near such a place.
>I finally found a stream called Junaluska which shares a name with a church
>retreat ive attended. Hoping for better luck i tracked this down and found
>clear water filled w/ lots of small trout. But the overcast sky and rainy
>days had worn me out. I was just not driven to seek out new life peering
>behind every rock and beyond each riffle. I stripped off my gear, rinsed
>myself clean in the cold waters and headed down to Andrews proper for a hot
>meal and final drive home. I decided first however to follow the Junaluska
>down to where it joined the Valley River. To my pleasure an excellent spot
>presented itself. The city park and ball fields allowed immediate access
>along a gravel bar and the bridges upstream provided interesting
>architecture. A good variety of habitats were present from pools to extended
>riffle runs and even a few boulder shutes. A trio of boys pulled in a couple
>Rock Basses as i watched and told me they had caught 11 Brown Trout at the
>same spot earlier in the day. Still with the sky drizzily and myself tired i
>decided to get lunch first and consider a return. A meal at the Kentucky
>Colonel's buffet, a review of my TN Gazateer and Etnier's Fishes of TN, a
>reaccessment of the opportunity and new refreshment i headed back to the
>site. The three boys were now replaced by a new trio of young fisherman. By
>now it was about 4 and i would only have another 2 hours or so available
>because of the cloud cover. I pulled on my shorty wetsuit, laid down in a
>pool and saw all the local natives again.
>I worked my way upstream laying in pools along the way checking out a couple
>backwater areas where i now think i picked up some demanding hitchhikers. A
>few times i stopped and stirred the gravel and let the fish approach me. The
>shiners swarmed about me eager for any tiny bug i dislodged. I always enjoy
>doing this but was seeking something new. Eventually i observed what i think
>are a possible Blotchside Logperch and a Streamline Chubb or closely related
>Chubb. I cannot say for sure due to the murkiness but am fairly confident of
>this ID. I have recently observed both species. I will return to this site
>the locals assured me it was often very clear. The one new experience i did,
>without question, gain was having my right leg and left thigh covered by
>small 1/4" leeches. When i realized they were on me about a dozen or two
>already plump and red with my blood. I spent about ten minutes scrapping
>off with my fingernails. Yuck. Today, two days later, they are very itchy,
>oozy and my legs are unpleasant to view in public. One interesting thing
>occured yesterday tho as i collected my daughter from craft camp at Audubon
>Acres behind our home. A fella inquired about my bitten legs and when i told
>him what i had been doing he said that being a trout fisherman himself he
>often snorkles to locate their habitat. Cool, stealthy and my kind of
>thinking! We shared a few stories and were remembering waters we had visited
>when Connie walked up and low and behold they were childhood school friends.
>So we discussed plans to visit the Conasauga, snorkle and picnic with our
>families. You never know why a nest of leeches picks you out for lunch but
>who knows where it will lead you. :)
>I dont want this report to be overly dispondent and im dissappointed that i
>experienced it after having much higher hopes. It certainly merited the
>day blues... with a hint of murky despair. :)
>I do want to reiterate the highlights and that was exploring new regions,
>communitys and waters, sharing the early Saturday beginning of our foray
>an excellent cast of NANFA members, the excellent evenings and meals i
>with Steve and Fritz and a few close encounters with some interesting
>critters, new fishies and possibly a range extension of a couple species.
>Clear water and a future time and opportunity call me back to the Valley at
>the Junaluska.
>so now... if you enjoyed this let me know cause if you dont respond im outta
>here on this report thing.

>/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
>/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
>/ Association"
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/"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
/ 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,