NANFA-- Lots and lots of snorkeling.

Mark Otnes (
Sun, 10 Jun 2001 19:43:29 -0500

I've been like a caged animal waiting to do some serious snorkeling, so I
went three days in a row.

On Friday I hit the upper Pomme de Terre River and it was predator city.
There was as small but rather deep pool beneath a culvert that was shooting
water into the pool. I swear that the small fishes were out numbered by the
things that wanted to eat them. Black Bullheads were constantly poking
about the rocks, I saw a snapping turtle about 5 feet away from me, came
face to face with a very large bowfin and a longnose gar. In addition there
were all kinds of Largemouth Bass, and Bluegills in the pool. Hiding or
cowering about the rocks were a handful of Rainbow and Iowa Darters. In the
shallower water there were a lot of Blackchinned Shiners and a few Least
Darters and Banded Killifish.

After checking out this pool I drove another 10 miles or so to the east
practically to the headwaters of the Pomme de Terre were it is a very small
stream connecting a couple of lakes. Just above the lake it was entering it
formed a pool maybe 60 feet long and 20 feet wide. I've never seen so many
bowfins in my life. There had to be at least a dozen of them in the pool.
It seemed everywhere I turned there was one staring me in the face. At one
point I had three checking me out at the same time. There were also tons of
Largemouth Bass, Bluegills, and Pumpkinseeds. There was one Black Crappie
and several Northern Pike. I was kind of a spooky place to snorkel as the
strong current rippled and waved long weeds and bunches of algae were all
these fish were lurking. Small fish were abundant, Blackchinned Shiners
were the most common minnow, and Rainbow Darters and Logperch were all over
the place. Least Darters were very common in the sandy stretches and there
were a few Iowa Darters and Johnny Darters. More into the lake there were a
lot of Banded Killifish cruising the shallows.

On Saturday I hit bigger water with the Ottertail River coming out of Rush
Lake. The water was clear and there were tons of fish. The best fish was a
Troutperch that was very cooperative. I didn't realize they were such a
translucent fish. Bluntnose Minnows and Logperch and Blackside Darters were
abundant. There were also at least half a dozen hybrid Logperch and
Blacksides (either that or we have Blotchsided Logperch in northern
Minnesota). Gamefish were everywhere including Northern Pike, Yellow Perch,
Largemouth Bass, and Bluegill Sunfish.

I snorkeled up river into the lake until I lost my nerve when the water got
deep and dark. Going out into the lake I surprised to see Blackside Darters
well into the lake in sandy habitat.

Finally I snorkeled in a chain of lakes connected by a crystal clear sandy
streams at Glendalough State Park near Battle Lake. The pools of the stream
were filled with clouds of sunfish of all sizes, logperch, and all kinds of
shiners. The most interesting part for me was snorkeling out to and through
the bullrushes well out into the lake. The rushes were in 4 to 8 feet of
water and formed a nursery for small sunfish and minnows. The edges of the
rushes were patrolled by Rock Bass, Bluegills, Largemouth Bass, and Black
Crappies. Northern Pike were working there way through the rushes
themselves. It was a very pleasant experience to slowly cruise face down
through the area and see this ever changing panorama of life. A lot of the
bluegills had dug out nests and were defending them against other fish, and
were hesitant to leave even as I approached.

I know I've forgotten much of what I saw and I've gotten too long with the
message already. It was just such a good time,

Mark Otnes
Fargo ND

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