NANFA-- snorkling, update... very long and all in lowercase
Thu, 11 May 2000 09:02:29 EDT

hello all...
ive been off the list for quite some time and only just recently logged back
on. i thought it would be a good idea to fill those in who are interested on
my last years activities.
the nanfa conference was excellent and elmer was a wonderful host. i was able
to spend several days before the conference with elmer preparing, visiting
friends and checking out a nearby creek. i had a good time with elmer's
hospitality and enjoyed meeting many of you for the first time. that was
quite a show! well done indeed. i look forward to this summer down real deep
south in martin moore's mississippi. i plan on doing a bit of wandering while
im in those parts... looking for clear spring water if it is to be found. i
need to get a missisippi gazetteer. they are wonderful tool to explore by.
however, miss has gators and mocs and im not too keen on sharing the same
water with them lurking about :)

ray katula came down for a few days in mid fall as the water was getting to
the brrrr temps. tho we spent a good bit of time shivering we sure had a lot
of fun wandering about and finding new critters. i took him to 2 of my
favorite nearby sites... the conasauga and then on to the tellico where he
got to see and collect w/ special permits the beautiful tangerine darter.
they are stunning and a real treat to see while snorkling. the large males
seem to keep a small colony about them and all are very friendly... coming
right up to you. ed scott meet us that day and took us on higher to a small
stream where i saw my first longnose dace. tho they are common in the
northwaters it was my first viewing of them. that is one of the joys of this
hobby... what is just over the ridge?, beyond the bend or in that swampwater?
i believe ray extended the range of the... was it a wounded darter?... we
were hoping to see a greenfin. there is a clear stream further on that i camp
by in nc that has greenfins and greensides. i caught a small hellbender there
a couple of years ago that now resides at the newport aquarium below
cincinnati. tho newport does not have much in the way of natives as the tn
aquaria it is still pretty cool... especially the plexi tunnels. ray also had
aquired a special permit to collect 10 southern blind cavefish thus we
rendezvoused with 2 rangers and went down into the darkness. i wish i had my
snorkle for that experience. the water was not too cold but any movement
stirred up clouds of silt. we worked our way into the very gentle flow and
moved upstream. ray's light scanned the surface while mine scanned just below
the surface like a searchlight. we could see them in the distance... tho
blind they seemed to sense movement and would dart away into the silt clouds.
we were eventually able to upsweep a total of 9 in various sizes and began
praising our aquired skill and success. moving back outside and just up the
road we visited a massive, clear and very bonechilling tn spring. i cant
remember what darter i came up with, i just felt a numbness taking hold of my
very core. all and all we spent about 3 days playing around and i look
forward to his next trip down. we did a lot more but i cant type fast enough.

mark otnes came a few weeks later and we spent a couple days seineing in the
local creeks. by that time it was way too cold to stick your head in. but we
had fun pulling them up and gawking! he spent a week wandering the area using
my directions and seemed to enjoy himself. i regret not being able to do more
with him but responsibilities made themselves known. we did have a bit of fun
together for 2 days tho.

my big news is we have bought a house that borders on south chickamauga creek
and its plethora of fishies. why there is snail darters just downstream of us
behind hooter's and gooney golf. s chick runs thru the 130 acre wildlife
refuge which borders the back of our 2 acre homestead. and in our front yard
is a 10' deep swimming pool filled with greenwater and koi. my desire is to
convert it into a massive aquaria. if all works out i will be able to snorkle
in my front yard! ive been doing research on the necessities to achieve
this... filtration, plantings, shade and a waterfall. im also thinking of
pumping the bottom pool water ( if its thermal layered ) into the house and
thru a darter tank. the lack of proper temps and no chiller has really
hampered my darter keeping. tho the house is small and we now have 3 young
ones we plan on adding on 2 more bedrooms and enjoying this peace of country
in the city for the next several years. im still on the lookout for that cool
watered spring cave gushing forth from below a bluff line!

to wrap this up i will share a bit about my last week and my first tn
snorkling of the new millineum. being a mild winter and a early spring ive
been able to get a plunge in without my head exploding from the cold. the tn
snub darters are chasing each other about hooking up with their mates. bright
teal noses on the big boys. they seem to intensify during their courtship
embraces. stone rollers and blacknose dace were in abundance but not yet with
color. some of the stone's were going into the big hornyhead mode. tho common
that is a awesome fish. all these and more were viewed at my first site along
with a big water snake that made his presense first known about 1 foot from
my face mask! i about shot straight out of that water! after my heart
returned to a semi rapid pace i raised my head and looked at him looking at
me and said "well he aint that big" and then stuck my head back under and
thought of those jungle jim movies with an anaconda wrapped around johnny
wize's neck. yeow! still gives me the creepies. one of the bonus's about
snorkling is that it is as if you have a big magnifying glass strapped to
your head... everything looks HUGE be it a pop top, hub cap or snapping
turtle! definitly a bonus plus! i watched that big snake swim his way back
into the concrete ventpipe and spent the next 15 minutes waiting for that
tarzan movie to start. the next day i dipped into tumbling creek upon my
return from memphis. that is one of the best sites ive ever experienced. very
clear, vegitated and a beautiful substrate. in the 2 hours i was in there i
counted 23 species that i could reasonably id. about another 10 were beyond
me, shiners, bass and some uncolored darters. i please myself in that im
finally able to nail a few species down and learning better how to narrow the
others. it is still tough... my memory fades by the time i get home and open
david e's big book. i brought home a 2' grass pickerel which was a suprise
find and a beautifully patterned crayfish to serve as head cleanup in a 55
gal tank filled with florida fish. i need to get some live food for the
pickerel... he has not made a move at frozen food or chopped live wigglers
yet and i dont expect him to.

we spent last weekend above knoxville at a friend's cabin, and visited
hotsprings nc. i had no idea that there was thermal venting in this region
and enjoyed the opportunity to explore it. unfortunatly the rain had just
fallen and visibility was limited to only a foot or so. i would like to
explore the confluence of the hot springs water and the cold water of the
stream before it joins the french broad just downstream. another trip
perhaps. the natural hot springs has been replaced by fiberglass hottubs
which aint my kind of thing. perhaps with a bottle of wine and my better
half... i did see white tail shiners, river chubbs and redline darters tho.
the next day, after a plateful ramps and eggs i checked out the headwaters of
cosby creek were i saw my first saffron shiners. jr shute told me to watch
for them and was i treated! very beautiful, full color, flashing about in the
rapid flows. i also saw my old friends the longnose dacies again... this time
in color. pretty neat. i brought 2 home but feel unsure about that action.
from 62 degree to my tanks 78 is not a good change for them. however there
was an abundance and i wanted to view them a bit more. perhaps they will make
it. once again the 500 dollar chiller calls. several other viewing occured
but im sure ive run on enough for a quick postie. i just thought you fellow
fishheads would enjoy some of these activities. anytime you want to visit
these hills and get wet let me know. we sure are blessed with a lot of neat
places to explore. have snorkle, will travel. come visit anytime. goodfishing
to all!

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