NANFA-- RE: nanfa V1 #1330

Bob Sinclair (
Wed, 17 Jul 2002 07:32:16 -0700


You asked for feedback, so here are a few comments:

1. I greatly appreciate detailed collection reports posted on the NANFA board
from time to time. I save them with state headings in a folder captioned
"NANFA Colelcting Reports for future reference when traveling.

2. Long unbroken blocks of type such as this report you posted are difficult to
browse through, and so I (and I suspect othes) tend to skip them. I would
rather see reasonable paragraph breaks, and also would like to see the
various specific locations and species names highlighed - perhaps in
italics or bold type. See below. (Unfortunately, my e-mail program
doesn't permit italics or bold type when replying, so I haven't included
that feature.)

Bob Sinclair
Santa Barbara CA

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Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 01:53:41 EDT
Subject: NANFA-- NE GA & SW NC wanders

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 rain
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 convey
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 reassured
that the time spent in presenting these reports is appreciated.

With that in mind i will attempt to suppliment the ( forthcoming? ) report of
the NE Georgia Tulluaha Falls foray organized by the motivated and
enthusiastic Steven Ellis, your NANFA Georgia Rep. I know that Steve recently
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 scenic
location must have been beautiful the week before, but now the river was
anything but inviting. A hot, refreshing shower brought us back to motivation
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

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 had
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 third
site as the weather continued to drizzle and Fritz had a long drive ahead of

In studying my return route options Fritz suggested i explore the Valley
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 Gazateer
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 never
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. As
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 of
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 prodding
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 could
not see well. I endlessly debated with myself as to what to do. I studied the
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 as
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 were
already plump and red with my blood. I spent about ten minutes scrapping them
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 rainy
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 with
an excellent cast of NANFA members, the excellent evenings and meals i shared
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.

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