NANFA-- Mystery fish... River Reef

kahley (
Mon, 25 Jun 2001 09:23:19 -0500

At 10:12 AM 6/22/01 -0700, David Lains wrote:
>I for one would like to be subjected to the long version. Can you do daily
>or weekly installments? These are the stories that we all have or would
>love to have.

What a nice thing to hear! Alas, check this out...,00060

The same storm that has postponed your meeting has ended my snorkeling for
the next
week at least, I'm afraid. I've been out at 10000 cubic feet per second
and couldn't swim back
to the boat. I tried the emergency line and it broke. Not ready to try
that again. Besides,
the water is chocolate milk. I hate when this happens so early in the
season. I spend
weeks rebuilding while the water is murky and just as things start to
settle down and clear
and the fish move in, bingo. .....

I'm hoping it will clear enough by next weekend that I can survey for
damage. It's amazing
that it gets as clear as it does. I'll admit to being spoiled by 1998 and
99...bad drought years,
which equals awesome clarity for these parts The July clarity was
unbelievable...20 feet...
More typical is a high of 10 to 15 feet. BTW..I'm not using the scientific
measurement of clarity,
in which a spinning black and yellow disk is sunk. I'm talking about the
distance at which I can
recognize a certain individual fish. We were just getting into six foot
clarity around the 14th and
a storm muddied things. Again, this week, pushing six foot and now this
mess. I wasn't going
to post....fearing that my frustration would bleed all over the post. But
it seems some of you are
facing the same frustration.

As to the black mystery fish...
I did find an Audubon Society fish book which is quite good for me because
it features photos
rather than just the illustrations. As fine as the illustrations are, to
my untutored eye, they
aren't as helpful as pictures. I have never seen a side shot of my black
fish as it is sooo shy.
If I sneak up on it from down stream, I can catch it outside it's
home. It's home is one of the
"caves" I have arranged in the smaller reef. It prefers an actually cave
to the overhangs or
gullies that will do for others.

From the rear, I can tell that it's a thin fish, but not much more. As
soon as I get close, or
attempt to move to get a side view, it darts back inside. Peering in
through the opening
gives only a glimpse of shadow. This year, I had a brainstorm. I included
a skylight in
the caves, which allows backlight to illuminate the fish. The last day I
was there, I did
catch a look, before it retired further into the shadows. I only saw the
front half of the
fish dimly and the half I saw looked a lot like a black angel fish. Of
course, I know it
isn't...but the shape of the front end is the same. In looking at the
pictures, I'm
leaning to it being a bluegill, but if that is correct, then the fish I
"thought" were blue
gills are something else.

Again from the pictures, they resemble long ear sunfish in shape and the
high blue
colored speckles, but I haven't noticed the red belly that shows in my book and
the habitat requirements don't match. When the water clears and I can see
again, I'll
look more closely. They also like to hide, although deeper on the big
reef. Since
cave building at the bottom of a couple tons of rock is dangerous, I wedge
lumber, plywood, hubcaps..whatever I find on the bottom to create overhangs for
them. The flooding and current will probably wash them out...<sigh> and I'll
have to look for something else.

The previous storm took a thirty foot tree that I had wedged at the
perimeter of the
big reef. It was a "floater" and I had a heck of a time sinking it and
weighting it
down. It would have lost it's buoyancy in a couple weeks and then I could have
more artfully included it into the reef but the current took it.

There is one question that I have wondered about for EVER. How in the heck
do the fish
stay put during flooding. As the chart I linked above shows, the river has
just had a
four fold increase in flow. I doubt the minnows that were so abundant last
week will
be there when I return. I have to admit, although their constant pecking
at my legs
and arms is a bit of a pain, they certainly keep the place lively and I
miss them when
they disappear. I guess i could try a food lure to draw more from the
(a large lush growth of valsenaria upsteam from the reef) but I'm not
really too
comfortable with that idea.

Well thanks again for your interest and input. Here's wishing us all
better weather!

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