RE: NANFA-- Wekiva River

Chip Rinehart (
Thu, 18 Jul 2002 11:21:30 -0400


We missed you this past weekend in GA/NC but it appears you had a pretty
good time without us. I enjoyed reading your report. You didn't mention
any close calls with gators or snakes so I'll assume there weren't any. You
have an open invitation to come down to SC anytime. We'll make sure you
have a gator encounter if you want....LOL!


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Al G Eaton []
> Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 9:27 AM
> To: ''; 'Nativefishconservancy at'
> Subject: NANFA-- Wekiva River
> It doesn't happen often, but late last week, I had the
> opportunity do some collecting while on a business
> trip to Florida. One of my business contacts required
> I attend a training session in Orlando last Thursday.
> I asked for a day of vacation on Friday and then I
> booked a return trip home for Sunday. I had
> originally planned to go to Talluhah "Bankhead" Falls
> with the seine and snorkel group, but the lure to
> dance with the gators in Central Florida was just too
> great. I landed in Orlando shortly after one on
> Thursday, rented a car, and dashed for my session
> which began at 2. I didn't take any supplies with me,
> as I knew I would not have time to wait for carry on
> luggage and still make the training session on time.
> So, when the session ended at 4:30, I pointed the car
> in the general direction of North, where I knew the
> Wekiva River could be found west of Sanford.
> While driving around, I kept a lookout for bait shops,
> walmart, kmart etc. I would have to buy my own dipnet
> to collect fish. I have the Binkley Perfect Dipnet,
> but I was afraid to pack it in my carry on luggage as
> it might be considered a weapon. After a fruitless
> search at walmart and a sporting goods store, I found
> a shrimp net at a bait and tackle shop just south of
> Sanford. It had the right size Ace netting that I
> like so much, and a very long handle. Unfortunately,
> it had a very deep pocket, which would make it
> difficult to remove captured fish quickly, and result
> in additional stress and damage to the captured fish.
> The sporting goods store did have gator buckets, a two
> piece bucket, the inner one has perforations and is
> removable. A nifty idea for housing your fish and
> allows for making water changes without removing the
> fish..... really cool. At a convenience store I
> bought two styrofoam ice chests. This was beginning
> to get expensive!!! I ran across a Sams, Sams has the
> best prices on Delorme atlases that I know of. The
> Florida one was only $10.99. Once I had those things,
> I felt prepared to go collecting.
> When I asked last week for collecting places near
> Orlando, I got a request for some of Central Florida
> pygmy sunfish, thought to be unique enough to be a
> separate species, and wouldn't I please catch some.
> With that thought in mind, I began searching for
> access points and likely collecting localities along
> the Wekiva River. A quick scan of the Delorme was
> intriguing. Almost no roads cross over the Wekiva
> River!!!!! and the area is largely undeveloped. I
> knew it would be useless to look at the spring head as
> the hard water in springs usually don't have any
> Elassoma species, but hard water fish like mollies and
> rainwater killies. I saw on the map where a large
> part of the river ran through state property. My
> requestor in Wisconsin mentioned SR 46 as a likely
> collecting locality.
> In the warm Florida sunshine, fleecy white clouds
> danced across the sky as I drove through Sanford and
> then west across SR 46. I still get excited everytime
> I near a new place to collect and the Wekiva was no
> exception. I could see a dip in the road ahead and
> knew that meant a stream, the water table in Fla is
> very high. I was both disappointed and gladdened by
> the 12 foot high fence I saw spanning the bridge on
> both sides and then cordoning off access to the river
> along both banks. I was sad to be unable to make the
> trek down to the rivers edge, the state had put up no
> tresspassing signs. A quick look upstream and I could
> see the river dart in and out of low islands, chocked
> with emergent and aquatic plants. I really wanted to
> try my hand here, but if the state was serious enough
> about protecting the Wekiva River from passing
> motorists and curious fishermen, I knew I should
> respect that and be happy that such a wonderful
> pristine environment was being protected. I drove
> south along a short stretch of road that follows the
> west bank for less than a mile, where I happened upon
> a local, who was going about the daunting task of
> chopping down florida's quick growing weeds. So I
> chatted with him a few minutes about the stream in his
> backyard and I asked him if there were any public
> access points downstream from the springhead. He
> recommended Katies Landing, a few miles farther down
> the river. So I took off for the east bank road north
> of sr 46. When I arrived at Katie's Landing I found
> the gate padlocked and pretty aggressive no
> traspassing signs posted all around the property.
> Katies landing went out of business this year and the
> state was now the proud owner of their property too!
> I didn't want to give up so easily, so in the late
> evening's failing light I drove farther downstream,
> following the Wekiva down an unpaved road. I finally
> came to a boat ramp and boat rental place. I chatted
> with the owner, who seemed almost amused when I told
> him about Nanfa and NFC and my interest in native fish
> that I keep in aquariums. He invited me back for
> Friday and said I could collect all day long. A
> little tired but happy, I strode to the water's edge
> and watched as a few killies and livebearers fled from
> my shadow.
> I am happy to say that all the colorful hotel
> characters were in TN making big bucks for that
> weekend, and my little hotel was incredibly quiet.
> Friday morning I snarfed down breakfast and headed
> from the hotel to the Wekiva. The sun was up and
> it was partly cloudy. Temperatures in the 80s.
> Humidity around 95%.
> The owner wasn't there, but a young mostly toothless
> lady manned the little shed that sold all kinds of
> fishing and boating supplies and snacks to the weekend
> boaters who frequent the Wekiva. I bought a soda and
> explained I wanted to collect along their boat haven.
> She thought a moment and decided it would cost me 50
> cents to fish.
> I took a swipe of the net and caught Least Killifish,
> green sailfin mollies and bluefin killies, and grass
> shrimp in the very first swoop. As I suspected, it
> took forever to unfold the deep cavity of the net and
> transfer fish to the collecting bucket. The shore was
> overgrown with aquatic plants. Species of Ludwigia,
> Bacopa, Salvinia, Hydrocotle, Water Lettuce,
> Valisneria, and water Hyacinths abounded in the brown
> water. From a distance the Wekiva looked almost
> black, but if you looked at a cupful of water, you
> could tell it was a deep brown. I continued to sample
> the Wekiva. I ran my net under the water lettuce and
> then shook the leaves. I knew that Elassoma liked to
> hide out in plants and I was hoping some would drop
> out from the roots of the many Pistia stratiodes that
> bobbed along the shore.
> I thought about taking some Pistia with me, but I had
> gone over the regulations just before I left home and
> read that although Pistia may be cultured for out of
> state sales, it is not permitted to be harvested from
> the wild. So I left the Pistia in the water.
> I ran the net between the moored boats and along the
> shore. Still no Elassoma, but I caught my first
> sunfish. A spotted sunfish. I glanced across the
> river looking for the ten foot gator that likes to
> hang out there, but like the Elassoma, he was nowhere
> to be seen. I ran the net through a Bacopa bed and
> nestled into the folds of the net I espied the first
> Elassoma, light colored and spotted, it was a female.
> In about an hour I had as many least killies, green
> sailfin mollies, and bluefin killies as I wanted, but
> only two Elassoma sp. aff. okeefeenokee. So I decided
> to work my way upstream out of the haven along the
> grass banks. I began to catch more pygmy sunfish.
> The first males appeared. So dark they looked almost
> jet black, with light metallic blue barlike spangles
> on the sides of the body. The fish reminded me almost
> of Cynolebias nigripinnis in size and shape. What a
> wonderful diminutive fish!
> I continued to sample and found more species. Two
> inch long alligator gar. Blue spotted sunfish,
> Fundulus chrysotus less than an inch long. Suddenly, I
> found something with bright red fins in the net. It
> was the first taillight shiner I had ever seen alive.
> Notropis maculatus is found as far north as the
> Bootheel in Missouri, where it is protected, I hoped
> to get it home alive so I could photograph it.
> I found an apple snail egg mass on top of a Cyperus
> sp. spike. In grass, but underwater I found a rather
> largish hole my toes fit into. In the net was a 3/4
> inch plecostomus.
> By now I was sopping wet even though my shirt and
> shorts had never touched water. The clothing seemed
> to soak up moisture from the air. I changed the water
> in the gator bucket and tshirts. I began putting fish
> into zip lock bags I had purchased at wall mart. I
> find the ez open style of zip lock bags where you
> slide a plastic tab along the closure to be a lot of
> help for housing a few fish while collecting.
> All in all, I spent about five hours collecting and
> sorting fish. The last hour I could hear thunder in
> the distance and a light rain fell from time to
> was actually refreshing, and I didn't mind
> as my clothes were already sopping wet from the
> humidity and sweat.
> I sorted out the fish, and found I had quite a few
> pygmy sunfish for my friend and myself. I packed the
> car and headed to St Augustine, to visit Paul Sachs of
> Along the way
> I found a store that sells packing supplies and I was
> able to purchase a box to enclose the styrofoam cooler
> I had purchased earlier. Paul grows fatheads,
> bannerfin shiners, mummichugs, heteroclitus, daphnia,
> moina, unicellular algae and a lot of other things
> commercially. Many of his customers are environmental
> labs around the country.
> Paul helped me graciously sort my fish and boxed up
> over 20 Elassoma to be mailed to Wisconsin. I
> included three young Lepomis, thinking my friend might
> like those also, but a little concerned that they
> wouldn't survive the trip because they hadn't had time
> to empty their system yet of food. We packed all the
> fish with oxygen, including the ones I would be taking
> home. I knew I couldn't take any more fish, so I
> gave my dipnet and gator bucket to Paul.
> The next morning, I headed out. The plan for the day
> was to attend the Suncoast Killie meeting in St
> Petersberg, on the gulf coast. As I made the long
> trek, I decided to return to the Wekiva briefly to
> take some pictures in the bright sunshine. The
> weather report for the rest of the day wasn't very
> promising. Thunder showers...and lots of them. I
> wasn't able to take pics the day before because of
> rain, but I definitely wanted some. After a few
> minutes I had a dozen or so shots.
> Back into the car to run the gauntlet along I-4 past
> all the Micky Mouse Land traffic. I-4 had been
> described to me as a parking lot. The description
> ominously proved to be only half accurate. When cars
> are moving, far too many drivers want to go 85-90 in
> the heavy traffic, tailgate, and weave in and out of
> traffic, regardless if its raining or not. Just a few
> minutes past the Champions of Golf exit I got stuck in
> a three hour traffic jam. Ambulances and police cars
> drove past. When I finally reached the scene of the
> accident, I saw at least three bodies along the median
> and berm with white sheets covering them. Several
> dazed survivors sat in the grass in shock. Badly
> mangled suvs, cars and minivans littered the ditches
> in the median and past the berm. Who knows, the brief
> stop to take pictures may have kept me from being in
> that accident.
> I arrived at the killie meeting well over two hours
> late. Charlie Nunziata and the crew had graciously
> saved the program until I came and it was a true
> pleasure to see him again and to visit with a such a
> vibrant group of fish hobbyists. Charlie and several
> other members have published a Florida collecting
> guide. The hard bound loosepage notebook is loaded
> with high grade pictures of florida fish, maps and
> text. Its well worth the $20.
> The group was extremely gracious and provided a four
> foot long sub loaded with lunch meats, cheese and
> veggies, drinks and various snacks.
> Except for the few minutes I took pictures earlier in
> the day, the sun had mostly disappeared and tropical
> showers and thunderstorms had taken its place. I
> drove back to Orlando that evening and saw several
> more serious accidents, along the way.
> I made one more trip to Walmart to purchase some
> check-in type luggage so I could get my jewels home.
> It stormed all night long. The next morning I got up
> early and packed the fish into the suitcase. By five
> Sunday evening I arrived home and began putting fish
> away. I had some losses, but not too many, most
> likely from handling damage due to the deepness of the
> net and the fish being out of water for so long.
> I reflected on the events and contrasts of the
> weekend.
> Thrilled by the beauty and pristine images of the
> Wekiva River dancing through my mind, as well as dark
> brooding images of the horrible accidents I had
> seen. I counted my blessings to be home safe and
> sound again.
> Klaus
> =====
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> ____(___)____)_/________________
> _____\_(____(_/_____________________
> ______\_)______________________bye
> ----
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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,