NANFA-- the lost account-very long!

Nicholas J. Zarlinga (
Tue, 23 Jul 2002 20:27:10 -0400

Only because you people have nothing better to do than to read long
accounts of other people's activities! This is from Rob "Ha!" Carillio
(and I think he did a very nice job-it makes me wonder if I was really

Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216-661-6500 ex 4485

"Fish worship... is it wrong??" (Ray Troll)


MAY 11, 2002

By: Rob Carillio Warren,

Looking back over recent years in my area of residence, never would I
have expected feeling as though I could step back and pass the torch on to
a whole new group of individuals so eager to learn about, share, and
spread the knowledge to others, as to the beauty and importance native
fishes and habitats play in our daily lives. Such importance of Native
Fishes, in particular, was clearly evident at the May 11th, 2002
NANFA/Cleveland Aquarium Society/Mahoning River Consortium Stream Life
Observation Outing.

This natural adventure toured a group of at least 30, into three different
area watersheds, The Mahoning, The Grand, and The Shenango, to discover an
underwater world unknown and unseen to many. Weather participants at
the outing were novice, expert, young or old, witnessing first hand, the
living underwater world of Ohio's Native Fishes, never ceases to draw
growing interest, fascination, and most important, generate a well
deserved understanding and respect for our local rivers and streams!

Before I shortly outline each of the three stops at the three streams, I
want to extend some gratitude to some very special people! First, I want to
thank property owners, Lloyd Gintert, (Southington, Ohio) and Larry Garlock
(Kinsman, Ohio) for their gracious cooperation on allowing us access to
the streams that traversed across their lands! Their allowance of us to
do so, demonstrates a genuine desire to help educate the public on the
importance of keeping our water resources clean and healthy! Thank you
gentleman! In addition, I would like to compliment NANFA members Mark
Binkley, Brian Migchelbrink and Nick Zarlinga for assisting the many
participants during this outing, and offering their expertise on Native
Fishes! With that said, let's begin!!!

Our first stop would have everyone meeting at Eagle Creek, which is a
Mahoning River Tributary and part of The Ohio River Drainage. Our location
would place us between Southington and Newton Falls, Ohio. After,
introducing myself and going over preliminary rules of "stream etiquette"
with the group, we would split up in three pods to survey at least 150
yards of the stream for fish and other aquatic life. Eagle Creek, as
always, greets visitors with plenty of densely shaded streamside forests,
keeping water temperatures cooler than most streams I visit in the area,
where some areas of the stream allow for penetration of more sunlight.
Since the weather forecast was calling for a rather cool and partly
cloudy day, most of us brought some kind of jacket or extra t-shirts.

I want to point out that the mosquitoes of Eagle Creek don't care what the
temperature is, because they will be there waiting for blood, and as
usually is the case, those venturing into the stream today became a nice
tall drink of red wine for these aggressive little guys! I'm glad I
didn't forget the organic repellent! I'd rather smell like a life-size
citronella candle than to walk away donating half of my blood to the local
mosquito blood drive!

Now that we're mosquito proof, it's now time to become waterproof!!! With
waders on, cameras and nets in hand, we made our way into the steadily
flowing waters of the small river. I was hoping that we would find some
calm pools in the stream where we would witness some amazing breeding
behavior and colors of Common Shiners and Central Stonerollers. This was
not to be the situation, however, as with recent rains swelling the local
waterways, most of the existing calm pool habitats, simply became part of
the higher water "run" habitat which was Eagle Creek this day! I was
volunteering today to keep an inventory of the species found, so as the
three groups began netting the waters, I did my best to see what each
catch yielded! At the end of this story, I will separately list the
species findings of each stream!

Because of the rather turbid and somewhat less than clear waters, some
of the color patterns and markings on the fishes became washed out. This
was not to hold true with the Greenside Darters, however, as they were as
visually dazzling as ever, displaying bright sparkling emerald green fins,
deep brown mottled markings, and even some deep blues along the length of
the body! It looked to me as though an expert pen and ink artist delicately
hashed in the patterns on this little animal! As I assisted in holding
up the viewing container of which the fish was placed in, it was
satisfying to see the amazement on the faces of especially those who have
never witnessed anything like this so close to home! What's more, when
Nick Zarlinga (NANFA member/Aquatic Biologist-Cleveland MetroParks Zoo),
explained to the group some of the physical make up and behavior of such
fishes (Nick refers to fish behavior as "Fishanalities!"), many thought
this in itself was intriguing. Few, unless explained for example, would
take note that a Darter's body is suited perfectly for the fast moving and
riffle habitat these types of fish most prefer to reside! Add to this, who
would take notice to the design of it's mouth as a determining factor as to
what it likes to eat! After a few photographs, and more admiration the
Dater was gently released. Other findings in the catches included the
odd looking Grass Pickerel, Mottled Sculpin, and a very large Blackside
Darter. Eagle Creek is a haven for Blacksides! After approximately an
hour and a half of netting fish and realizing what we would be seeing most
of in Eagle Creek today, we would make way back to our vehicles and
regroup for the next site, which would be Rock Creek Near Rock Creek,
Ohio, of course!!! By the way, the species tally this day for Eagle Creek
was 15. Since the water was high and many habitats washed out, this wasn't
too bad!

Our next site, which would take us on a 30 minute drive to Ashtabula
County Ohio's small village of Rock Creek. Rock Creek, a tributary of the
Grand River and part of the lake Erie Drainage, is where we would explore
the main stem of the river the town was named for. "Rock Creek!" If you
are familiar with famous crimes or TV's Unsolved Mysteries series, this
place is a small rural farming community, infamous for what I believe was
an early 1970's slaying of a law enforcement officer by an accused bunch
of local roughnecks. I don't know if the mystery as to whatever happened
to this officer was unraveled, but I do know the creek that runs through
the town has a very diverse assembly of fishes including a pleasant
surprise find today of a Lamprey. Lamprey are one of the Native Fishes
that have been swimming around since before the dinosaurs! It has changed
very little since that time, millions of years ago!!!

An interesting role Lamprey play in the underwater environment here, is
preying off of sick and dying fishes. Although sounding brutal this act of
this fish has it's advantages! By doing this the Lamprey helps to keep the
overall fish population strong and healthy, by "removing" those which may
spread disease to others! They literally attach themselves to the weaker
fish with their jawless and suckerlike mouth, and suck fluids from their
prey, eventually killing them! I guess you can call them the "DRACULAS"
of the creek!!!

"These fish", as Nick Zarlinga pointed out, "are altogether sooooo
different from all other fishes". As Nick demonstrated, the fish is
actually jawless! He also pointed out how it most notably resembles an eel
and slithers along the bottom of the stream like a snake searching for
food! Certain native Lamprey Species are endangered in Ohio, and are
excellent indicators of batter water quality. Like most fishes which are
either threatened or endangered, loss of habitat and poor water quality
contribute to their declining numbers.

In addition to Rock Creek housing the diverse population of fishes
that it does, it is also a very picturesque river. Tall and graceful
Sycamore trees, reminiscent of old Ohio riverside forests, line the banks,
along with thick growths of various riverbank sedge grasses. The geology is
equally fascinating. Glacial artwork is clearly evident near and in Rock
Creek, with glacial moraines and what I shall describe as "shale shelf"
waterfalls in the stream!!! It's also a birdwatchers best kept secret! I
witnessed, live, a Baltimore Oriel for the first time!!! Bright orange and
dark black.. Who could miss it bouncing around from tree limb to limb. Ok,
I'm getting carried away on other subjects of nature, which at Rock Creek
is so easy to do. I guess that's just a part of Native Fish observation
outings, in that one can't help but take in all the natural scenery which
surrounds him at streams.. even if you came just to look at the fish!

After repeating my chore of keeping track of what species of fishes we
were able to find at Rock Creek, I sat down along the bank and simply
enjoyed our many participants who waded throughout quite a distance of the
river. Among other beautiful fish we netted this day at Rock Creek, were
deep and brilliantly colored Rainbow Darters (the name says it all!),
Logperch Darters, which seemed to display the "ripening" colors of a
banana, and another special guest star among an all star cast of fish,
the Spotted Sucker!!! This fish keeps the bottom of streams swept

As the day approached early afternoon, and after finishing my rest along
the bank, I called everyone back to take a complete count of what we
gathered. We totaled 24 species at Rock Creek! Not bad for an hour and a
half of getting wet!!! We took a break to eat our sack lunches,
gathered together our gear, loaded the vehicles and made way to what would
be the last site of the day, for at least me! This site would be Stratton
Creek. The drive would take us to the south east about a 30 minute drive.

Stratton Creek, at Kinsman Ohio, is a tributary of Pymatuning Creek.
which then.. is a tributary of the Shenango River. All of this water flows
south, so this of course makes Stratton Creek a part of the Ohio River
Drainage. This is a little waterway, barely averaging 12 feet wide in the
locations we were to sample for fish, yet has every bit as much diversity
as any other larger river or stream. Stratton Creek is almost always a
clear running stream highly because of the riparian zones on each side of
the stream remaining intact and mature. In my experiences, I have found
the smaller streams which boast more diverse habitat, to be the most
diverse in fishes!

As we parked our vehicles and made our way through the thick growth along
the banks, I opted to take an easy way to view the sampling of this
stream. I sat on top and on the edge of the overpass crossing this
peaceful little river. For a moment, I felt like Tom Sawyer lazily
wasting away the day dreaming amidst the calm. The sound of the water, by
this time of day, nearly coaxed me into a nap! I love these outings!
Anyway, I better wake up and point out something unique about Stratton. In
my opinion, this stream has produced some of the most colorful Rainbow
darters I have ever seen, as well as a population so plentiful, that one
rarely misses catching one! If your net is in the water, you just may even
catch one by accident! Today, at Stratton Creek, we would basically see
a re-peat of what we had been turning up at the two previous sites. This
stream was running rather high from recent rains, so habitat here too, was
limited. It was nice to turn up some Stripped Shiners, however, as Common
Shiners, a similar fish, seem to be the most abundant. You can witness how
dazzling in color a spawning Common Shine, can be, by seeing the May 6th
2000 Ohio Regional NANFA Outing web site link from the NANFA web site at

The day was winding down so we decided to call it quits at Stratton
Creek. We regrouped after cleaning up any excess litter we found viewed
and documented our findings, then disbursed. By the way, I want to thank
participants who helped with litter clean up at each of the sites! It's
always good practice to leave the streams in better shape than when we
first arrived, at least in the litter category! This also has property
owners welcoming future such stream outings.

In the final "optional" trip to a stream within the Cuyahoga River
Watershed, I was surprised to see that most of the group was still
together! Only a few people called it quits early throughout the day, me,
stopping after Stratton Creek. Nick Zarlinga has provided me with a list
of Species that he says he and Mark Binkley had observed on their last
stop. Sorry, folks, since I didn't attend this last trip, I can't provide
a story! Nonetheless, this proved to be another educational yet fun day at
the streams!

All who attended on this day walk away enlightened not only because of
the fact they learned what remarkable worlds of aquatic life and habitat
exist but a stone's throw from home, and how their health ultimately
affects ours, but as a result this, they also learned to become better
stewards of our water resources. How could one not better appreciate our
streams after seeing first hand how countless hours of quality time
can be spent in an environment such as a stream and streamside forest???,,,
This thought alone demonstrates why these places are so worthy our

With the above in mind, and after seeing such fine attendance at this
event, I think all our talk about our Native Fishes is certainly not in
vane! We've passed that "torch" of appreciation on to others, who in the
future, will be stewards of Native Fishes and their habitats. Events
like this make "appreciation and education... through observation"
possible! Because of such events, it looks as though our Native Fish
friends have a much brighter future! Thank you all who made this day
possible and for attending!!! Listed below are species lists at each of
the sites.

Eagle Creek Findings Between Southington and Newton Falls, Ohio
1. Fantail Darter
2 .Johnny Darter
3.Warmouth Sunfish
4. Rock Bass
5. Black Crappie
6. Green Sunfish
7. Bluntnose Minnow
8. Banded Darter
9. Blackside Darter
10. Grass Pickerel
11. Mottled Sculpin
12. Greenside Darter
13. Common Carp
14. Sand Shiner
Misc. Dragonfly/Crayfish/ Freshwater Muscle???

Rock Creek Findings at Rock Creek, Ohio
1. Green Sunfish
2. ? Lamprey
3. Rainbow darter
4. Fantail Darter
5. Golden Shiner
6. Creek Chub
7. Yellow Perch
8. Bluegill Sunfish

9. Black Crappie
10. Central Stoneroller
11. Hybrid Sunfish
12. Yellow Bullhead catfish
13. Bluntnose Minnow
14. Common Shiner
15. Greenside Darter
16. Warmouth Sunfish
17. Smallmouth Bass
18. Logperch Darter
19. White Sucker

20. Spotted Sucker
21. Pumpkinseed Sunfish
22. Northern Hogsucker
23. Blackside darter
Misc. Toad/Crayfish???..

Stratton Creek at Kinsman, Ohio
1. Rainbow Darter
2. Johnny Darter
3. Creek Chub
4. Central Stoneroller
5. Fantail darter
6. Mottled Sculpin
7. Greenside darter
8. Bluegill Sunfish
9. Rock Bass
10. Yellow Bullhead Catfish
11. White Sucker
12. Striped Shiner
13. Logperch Darter
13. Northern Hogsucker
14. Pumpkinseed Sunfish
Misc. Green frog/Crayfish ???..
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