NANFA--Collecting in southern alabama

Al G Eaton (
Thu, 3 May 2001 10:28:42 -0700 (PDT)

I had the pleasure of giving a talk on native fish to
the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association on the 28 (last
Saturday) and I took the opportunity to do some
collecting in an area that is just a little bit
farther for me to reach on a weekend. After the talk,
judging and auction, I drove with Ray Charles to the
Auburn, Alabama area where we sampled a stream
normally loaded with darters. It was a beautiful
stream almost devoid of fish. Last years drought must
have devastated the stream We did see a few fish but
only caught two in a half an hour.

We drove farther down the road to Montgomery to a
swamp off the Alabama River where we found Elassoma
zonatum and red fined Pickerel. The swamp was a
smelly putrid mess. Charles indicated the entire
swamp had been covered with water hyacinths last fall,
and now there wasnt a single living specimen to be
found, the hard winter had killed them all. but
amongst the rotting vegetation were some very large
elassoma zonatum. I think my wife who accompanied me
on the trip put a sign on my back that said, "Bite
Me", as I was attacked by swarms of mosquitoes in the
failing light. I also collected a few freshwater

That night Debbie and I drove well south of
Montgomery, where we spent the night and awaited
arrival of more friends from Mobile as we prepared to
collect in the Lime Hills the next day. Early in the
morning we headed north into hilly country and stopped
at a stream with very clear water. As the four of us
climbed down the hill to the stream we could see
metallic blue dots darting to and fro in the stream.
The male Notropis chrosomus were in breeding colors
but not up on the nests yet. I measured the water
temperature...a refreshingly cool 64... too cool for
rainbow shiners to spawn, but warm enough for males to
be in color. Several hours of intense seining
resulted in a few fish for each of us. We also caught
Fundulus stellifer, Etheostoma stigmaeum, Etheostoma
whipplei, one I havent id'd yet, Percina
nigrofasciata, rough shiners, creek chubsuckers,
alabama hognoses, a Nocomis species Longear sunfish
juveniles and Fundulus notatus. All in all a wonderful
trip. Time to get back to work

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