NANFA-- Po and Ni River Field Trip Caroline County, VA on April 29, 2001

Mike Thennet (
Fri, 11 May 2001 15:20:44 -0400

Native Fish Enthusiasts,

For the second Virginia trip of the year, the day could not have been
more beautiful. The temperature was around 75 degrees and sunny. The
participants included Michael Brem , Pierre Gagne, Deb and John
Miller. The morning started out with me acting as the Minister of
Propaganda by passing out various forms of NANFA literature. Though I
failed to mention the upcoming 2001 NANFA convention in Ohio's Hocking
Hill, I am mentioning it now so let me know if you need any additional
information and I can direct you. It should be quite a great time.

The subject trip was actually to the Poni River, just after the
confluence of the Po and Ni rivers. The river, at the location, is a
very slow moving blackwater river rich in organics with dark sediment
covering the bottom. A little to the East, just down from where Rt. 606
crosses the Poni, is a small backwater tributary of the Poni which forms
a small swampland loaded with lilypads, arrowheads, and saggitaria(?).

After a brief survey of the the area, we made our way to the small
backwater tributary east of the parking area. There we found a small
swampy cove of tranquil brisk water which supported various forms of
aquatic fauna. First noticed were the myriad of aquatic insects which
turned up in our seines and dipnets. Scuds, stoneflys, and large diving
beatles are just a few which could be named. Others included those
swimming (not walking) stick thingys which seem highly predatory in
nature. I think their common name is water scorpion. Here, Pierre
collected scuds to be used as a live food source. At the same location,
Deb collected a most unusual amphibian, the Ratmortis sodabottlus,
commonly known as dead mouse in a coke bottle. We surmised that the
rodent went down with his ship, possibly during a heavy rain and
obviously was unable to get out of the botlle. Also present at this
location were tadpoles of two different species of frog and oddles of
grass shrimp.

Eventually, we began to turn up different species of fish such as
bluespot sunfish (Ennecanthus gloriosus), eastern mudminnow (Umbra
pygmaea) and a few grass or redfin pickerel (Esox sp.) juveniles. Some
of the larger bluesposts were extremely colorful, there dark olive
bodies were completly spangled with aquamarine spots. Even the
juveniles were impressive. The bluespots adults were sampled around the
lillypads, the other plant life and fallen tree structures . The
juveniles on the other hand were collected along the shore among the
organic debris and terrestrisal plants hanging into the water. The
mudminnows, which are somewhat drap in color, have much more personality
than I can describe here. The Umbra sp. were also being collected in
the organic debris and structure at the edge of the swamp. All of the
pickerel were very small and thin, about 1" in lenght and you can
imagine how thin. They were collected close to the shore among
vegetation. These tiny juveniles seem to be much more delicate and
tougher to feed than larger 2-3" juveniles previously sampled at the