NANFA-- Collecting w/Ray

Tue, 13 Mar 2001 12:55:41 -0600

Well, it finally came to pass. After listening to Ray Wolff wax poetically
about the pristeen marsh and the pulling in of net after net of Northern
Red-Bellied Dace and Fantail Darters. Of prehistoric fish called Gars and
Bowfin and Burbot, I finally made a trip up his way and twisted his arm
into taking me collecting. After spending one mildly cold day under mildly
bad conditions, I came to the quick conclusion that Ray should get a
Pulitzer Prize! We didn't get one Northern Red-Belly and we actually got
skunked on the first two spots we even hit. I started to have my doubts
that Ray had actually ever even netted a fish. I was cold and my knee was
killing me, where I slipped and fell on the ice, I was begining to think
that driving three hours for this might not have been the best way to spend
my day off. Then it happened. We stopped at a roadside ditch. My suspicions
about Ray where now entering the delusional phase. Here was a drop of water
that only looked to be 15 x 20 feet. It appeared to be no more then a
ditch. I played along and figured I'd get out and have a look see. After
all, it's safer to be out walking around with an insane person, then it is
to be riding in his truck. So I looked around, and to my surprise I found a
floating dead Northern Pike. This Pike went about 23 inches long! Awefully
big for a ditch! Then we spot a dead Bowfin, this one about 16 inches long.
Begining to think that Ray may not be as crazy as my earlier experiences
had led me to believe I dipped my net in and pulled out a net FULL of fish!
WOW! There was all kinds of things in there! Baby Sunfish and Perch to beat
the band. Baby Bullheads, Tadpole Madtoms, Tadpoles, Golden Shiners and
several other natives that I don't even remember. (Hopefully Ray does and
will fill in where my memory leaves off. I really need to take notes.) We
dipped several more times and each time it was the same, a net full of
fish. We crossed the road and found the same in another ditch. Just
incredible. Ray tried to educate me and describe how this ditch is actually
connected to the larger Marsh area and the fish come up in here to feed and
take andvantage of the open water, but to be honest I didn't get much of
it. I was too excited to be catching fish! I kept a few Bullheads and
Madtoms, nothing too exotic, and we headed off to another spot. This time
we stopped on what can best be described as a backwash area that empties
into the Wisconsin River. There is a large pond like area that empties
through two concrete sewer pipes into the River. On the down water side of
the pipes there is a stack of large rocks. After kick around in the rocks
we netted Fantail and Rainbow Darters as well as some Sticklebacks. Very
Cool. I have two of each of the Darters at home in my tanks, right now.

What a great day. Ray is truely a good guy to spend some time with and even
though winter may not the best time to be in Wisconsin netting fish. I had
a blast! We also saw Deer, Turkey's, Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, Osprey's
and all kinds of other critters. Thanks to Ray for putting up with me and
giving up a good part of his Saturday. I had a great time and look forward
to his heading down to my area where I will try and return the favor.


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