RE: NANFA-- Texas Native Fish Weekend Report - really long

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Thu, 20 Jun 2002 13:12:18 -0500

Thanks, Steven! Sorry that you couldn't make it. Charles and I both have
quite a few digital photos that could be posted if someone (hint) wants to
help me out with that. And, yes I was in the tent. It was quite the ride.

Rob Denkhaus
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Roselawn Museum
> Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2002 1:10 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: NANFA-- Texas Native Fish Weekend Report - really long
> Excellent report, Rob!
> I trust you were no longer in the tent when it went airborne.
> Did y'all
> take any pix other than video?
> Steven A. Ellis
> Kennesaw, GA
> At 03:58 PM 6/19/02 -0500, you wrote:
> >Over the weekend of June 14-16, members of NANFA and the NFC
> embarked on the
> >first of what will hopefully be many native fish forays in
> the state. This
> >event was held at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
> (FWNC&R), which
> >contains a long and relatively natural stretch of the West
> Fork of the
> >Trinity River. This is our story...
> >
> >Friday, June 14
> >The event started out slowly as only Rob Denkhaus (NANFA host for the
> >event), Charles Anderton (NFC host for the event) and
> Charlie Anderton
> >(Charles' son) were in attendance at 6:30 p.m. for Steve Campbell's
> >presentation on Cottonmouth behavior and avoidance. Instead
> of having a
> >regular presentation to such a small group, we chose to just
> sit around
> >talking fish, snakes, and everything else while waiting for others to
> >arrive. Steve Campbell is an Aquatic Education Specialist
> for Texas Parks &
> >Wildlife (TP&W) and has an extreme interest in both herps
> and fish. Steve
> >remarked many times that he was thrilled to find that there
> are groups of
> >non-academics who are interested in nongame fish! The possibility of
> >cooperative activities between TP&W, NANFA and NFC were
> discussed at length.
> >Steve promised to join the organizations in the near future.
> While we
> >talked, Matthew Fisher (Katy, TX) called to say that he was
> sitting on
> >Interstate 820 with a flat tire and would be staying at a
> friend's house
> >before coming out in the morning. Our group was beginning to grow!
> >
> >It was well after dark when John Bongiovanni pulled into
> camp. He and his
> >wife had made the long journey from Tyler, TX to find the
> original four
> >sitting at the campfire enjoying a cold libation or six.
> John works in
> >Athens, TX home to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
> He and Steve had
> >some friends in common who work there and we discussed a
> group visit to the
> >site at some future date. The calls of barred owls accompanied the
> >crackling of the fire as we shared fish tales and discussed
> the next days'
> >activities before finally turning in sometime after 2 a.m.
> >
> >Saturday, June 15
> >The day started early for some. Charlie was first up and
> had the fire
> >burning brightly since it was surprisingly cool and damp for
> a Texas June
> >morning. John had to run his wife over to a relative's
> house in Dallas.
> >After a bit of breakfast, we headed up to the interpretive
> center to meet
> >the rest of the group that was coming in for the day.
> >
> >At the interpretive center, FWNC&R staff members John
> Shaffer and Travis
> >Tidwell joined us. John is a junior high school science
> teacher most of the
> >time but has worked as a seasonal naturalist for many years.
> He runs the
> >FWNC&R canoe program and is intimately acquainted with the
> local waters.
> >Travis is a summer intern who has been on the job for a
> week. He was told
> >to come prepared to get wet and really had no idea what was
> in store for
> >him. Also joining us were Dan Northcut (Dallas), a new
> NANFA member and
> >president of the Dallas chapter of the Texas Master
> Naturalist program, and
> >Karen Green (Keller, TX), a member of the Friends of the
> Nature Center who
> >had seen an event notice posted in the interpretive center
> and just thought
> >that it sounded like fun. Dan, it should be noted, is also
> an environmental
> >science teacher at St. Marks School of Dallas and has
> several native tanks
> >and an outdoor pond on exhibit at the school. Matthew
> Fisher also caught up
> >to us and John B. got back before we left. Our group now
> numbered 10 as we
> >loaded up into a caravan to head to the first site.
> >
> >We started on the south end of the Refuge in an area known
> as Greer Island.
> >The Greer Island area is at the head of Lake Worth, a
> reservoir that was
> >constructed in 1914 to provide drinking water for Fort
> Worth. Greer Island
> >was originally a wooded hilltop along the West Fork but is
> now an island
> >that is accessible via a causeway. Our intent was to sample
> along both
> >sides of the causeway and along the adjacent shoreline.
> >
> >After some initial hesitation at wading into the murky
> waters of the West
> >Fork and a bit of instruction (for the novices) in how to
> operate a seine,
> >we plunged in. The first run with the seine pulled up a beautiful
> >orangespot sunfish and everyone was hooked.
> >
> >The species list for this area included:
> >Orangespot Sunfish
> >Redear Sunfish
> >Longear Sunfish
> >Bluegill
> >Largemouth Bass
> >Gizzard Shad
> >Inland Silversides
> >Big Scale Logperch
> >Gambusia
> >Red Shiner
> >Freckled Madtom
> >Creek Chub
> >Long Nosed Gar
> >Carp
> >
> >Non-fish fauna observed or encountered included: Glass
> Shrimp, Dragonfly and
> >Damselfly nymphs, various crayfish, water scorpions, various
> diving beetles
> >including Belastomatids, and one unidentified water snake
> which Charlie
> >wisely did not scoop up into his net.
> >
> >One of the highlights of our time at Greer Island was having
> a news crew
> >from the Fort Worth city cable channel in attendance. Rob
> Denkhaus was
> >interviewed regarding why the event was happening and what
> we hoped to find.
> >John B. was interviewed to apparently learn why someone
> would drive so far
> >to look at fish. They promised to give a copy of the
> feature to the nature
> >center when it's finished and hopefully this will be
> available for viewing
> >at the convention in August.
> >
> >By chance, while they were filming Charles and John B. were
> making a run
> >with a seine through water that suddenly became deeper than
> they were tall.
> >As Charles tried to save his cigarettes from floating away,
> they managed to
> >hang onto the seine and regain their footing. When they
> brought the seine
> >up they had caught one of the most beautiful longears and
> the first redear
> >sunfish known to be collected on the Refuge. The camera was
> able to capture
> >the vivid colors of the fish and the excited reactions of
> the participants.
> >In addition, Dan had managed to catch an 8-inch gar complete
> with all the
> >frills on the fins.
> >
> >Before leaving Greer Island, Karen, who had come along
> because she thought
> >that it might be fun, had learned how much fun it really is
> and Travis, who
> >was told to be prepared to get wet and so had brought waders, had
> >experienced the joy of not being able to stop sinking into
> the muck bottom
> >as the water reached up and over the top of his waders.
> >
> >Next, we moved up river to another causeway which divides
> the West Fork from
> >an area known as Lotus Marsh. This site offers easy access
> to two very
> >different habitats. Now that everyone was experienced in
> seine operation,
> >we spread out more and worked both sides of the causeway.
> >
> >The species list for this area included:
> >
> >Bluegill
> >Orangespot Sunfish
> >Longear Sunfish
> >Black Crappie
> >Largemouth Bass
> >Gambusia
> >Blackstripe Topminnow
> >Blackspot Topminnow
> >Big Scale Logperch
> >
> >Non-fish fauna collected in the area included: damselfly
> and dragonfly
> >nymphs, dobsonfly larvae, various crayfish, and glass shrimp.
> >
> >One of the highlights of the area was watching a large
> clubtailed dragonfly
> >nymph catch and consume young Gambusia. Dan wanted to keep
> the invertebrate
> >predator for his classroom tank but when it went after one
> of Charles'
> >topminnows, Dan wisely released it.
> >
> >The news crew had followed us to the site to finish their
> filming. Proving
> >that they were not true outdoors people, the reporter tried
> to film his
> >intro and conclusion while standing on a fire ant mound.
> Since he was
> >wearing sandals, we recommended that he wade into the water
> to rid himself
> >of the biting pests but he refused saying that he didn't
> know what might be
> >in the water...
> >
> >Young Travis also encountered a biting pest as he learned
> how not to pick up
> >a dobsonfly larva. When Dan pulled the invertebrate from
> the net and asked
> >what it was, Travis volunteered to take a look and received
> a painful slit
> >in his finger for his trouble. The offending larva later
> became food for a
> >hungry fish.
> >
> >Also in this area, Karen showed that she has the right stuff
> to be a true
> >native fish conservationist as she single handedly cleaned
> up a huge pile of
> >beer cans that some *^&%^^%# had left along the shore.
> >
> >Before finishing up in the area, Rob challenged anyone to seine a
> >particularly thickly vegetated backwater slough on the river
> side of the
> >causeway. The vegetation, primarily hornwort, makes seining
> difficult but
> >provides plenty of cover for fish and invertebrates. Not
> wanting to pass up
> >a challenge, Dan and Charles waded in. The area proved to be full of
> >crappie and other sunfish. Keeping any required a gallant
> effort on the
> >part of Karen who fought her way through shoreline brush and
> an aquatic
> >jungle in order to get a bucket to the intrepid fish collectors.
> >
> >After Dan and Charles had climbed out of the slough, we
> headed up to the
> >interpretive center to sort the catch and have some lunch.
> Charlie A. and
> >Steve C. had to say goodbye because of other commitments but
> Dr. Lou Verner,
> >Urban Wildlife Biologist for TP&W, then joined us. Lou had
> recently removed
> >the tropicals from his 125 gallon tank in preparation for
> going native!
> >
> >We then moved northward into an area that lies below Eagle
> Mountain Dam and
> >is the area where alligators are most commonly seen on the
> Refuge. Rather
> >than walk the 2 miles to the site, we all loaded into a 4wd
> S-10 pickup
> >(yes, 10 of us) and made the long journey complete with
> having to stop and
> >move trees out of the way and using the 4wd to get through
> mud holes and
> >over rock piles.
> >
> >No alligators were seen but the fish were plentiful. The
> area's species
> >list included:
> >
> >Bluegill
> >Orangespot Sunfish
> >Warmouth
> >Redear Sunfish
> >Largemouth Bass
> >Gizzard Shad
> >Red Shiner
> >Blacktail Shiner
> >Blackstripe Topminnow
> >Blackspot Topminnow
> >Gambusia
> >Inland Silversides
> >Longnose Gar
> >Black Buffalo
> >Bluntnose Darter
> >Big Scale Logperch
> >
> >Non-fish fauna observed included: glass shrimp, dragonfly
> and damselfly
> >nymphs, water scorpions and crayfish.
> >
> >The highlight of this area was catching a 2-feet longnose gar and an
> >approximately 2-pound black buffalo while seining. Seeing a
> big fish in the
> >net was quite a thrill for those that had never experienced
> it. Another
> >highlight was finding the blacktail shiners as they had not
> been recorded
> >for this area before.
> >
> >After returning to camp for a quick and refreshing cold
> drink, we reconvened
> >at the interpretive center to sort the new catch. Lou
> claimed a number of
> >fish to stock his 125. Dan claimed one of the 8" gar and
> the 2 lb. buffalo
> >as well as others to put in a 240-gallon tank at school.
> Karen chose not to
> >take any fish...yet. Matthew had to go but promised to return in the
> >morning. John S. and Travis, having put in a full day's
> work, left for
> >home. Our group was down to Rob D., Charles A. and John B.
> and we still had
> >our speakers for the night!!
> >
> >Once again, because of the small group, the presentations
> became more like
> >conversations. Dr. Tom Hellier, of the University of Texas
> - Arlington,
> >spoke with us about the impact of exotic introductions on
> natural systems
> >and a variety of other interesting topics. One unrelated,
> yet fascinating
> >story that Dr. Hellier related was that he was the person who first
> >introduced Archie Carr to sea turtles. Dr. Carr then went
> on to become the
> >foremost authority on sea turtles.
> >
> >Our second speaker was Armin Karbach, former curator of
> fishes at the Fort
> >Worth Zoo. Armin discussed some of the history behind the
> now defunct zoo
> >aquarium and how it operated. He also discussed some of the
> projects that
> >he had been involved with in both the US and in Mexico.
> >
> >After the speakers, we retired to camp where shortly after
> we had retreated
> >to our tents, a mighty storm blew in. Rob's tent was lifted
> and twisted and
> >finally demolished by winds that were reported to have
> reached 80 mph. Rain
> >fell and lightning flashed as the intrepid fish enthusiasts
> cowered in their
> >tents. When morning finally dawned, it was as if nothing
> had ever happened
> >during the night. Deer were wandering around the edges of
> camp. A Carolina
> >wren was busily working on a nest under the cover of the
> picnic shelter and
> >barred owls continued to call throughout the morning.
> >
> >Worn out from the previous day's activities and a restless night, the
> >remaining three, Rob, Charles, and John B. decided to call
> it a weekend and
> >all returned home but not before making tentative plans to
> do it all again.
> >
> >
> >Rob Denkhaus
> >Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
> ----------------
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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,