It has been raining a LOT here in the south central part of the country. I'm not sure about Columbus, but Lexington has had about 5 inches of rain in the last 10 days or so. I was afraid that we wouldn't be able to collect anything because of the high water, but Mark had a couple of places in mind.
We first collected in a small tributary of the Olentangey river. We are not sure of the name of the creek, but it enters the olentangy right near route 161.
The water was moving pretty quickly and was rather turbid.
long ear sunfish
hybrid sunfish (?bluegill x green)
Micropterus sp. - ?maybe spotted bass
I kept some stone rollers and longear sunfish
The minnows and shiners were realtively abundant and easy to catch. Mark noticed that the sunfish were deeper in the body than he is used to seeing.
Then we moved to the Olentangy itself. The water looked to be several feet higher than normal and was also turbid.
we seined in shallow water (less that 4 feet) along the bank. We also went into a back water which is normall dry when the river level drops. We collected:
sand or mimic shiner
Micropterus sp - ?maybe spotted bass
hybrid sunfish - ?bluegill x longear
Crappie (not sure if white or black yet)
I kept 2 small crappie (~2-3 inches SL) and some of each of the minnow and shiner species.
the shiners and minnows were very abundant and easy to catch. We caught only 2 crappie, but that's all I wanted anyway. The micropterus was hiding out in the backwater. It was about 8 inches long, if I remember correctly.
Then we moved on to the confluence of the Little Darby and Big Darby creeks.
The water was again quite high and turbid. Since the water course is shallow, the water was moving very quickly, to the point that it became hard to handle the seine at times.
Southern redbelly dace (1)
orange spot sunfish
small mouth bass
unidentified red horse
we also caught a nice water snake.
I kept some of each of the darters. The rainbow were the most plentiful and are very attractively colored. We also found quite a few greenside daters. Banded and variegated were less common, but that might have been due to collecting techniques - We caught the variagated generally near big rocks with fast moving current. There were a lot more big rocks that we couldn't get close to without serious risk of swimming.
I kept some of each darter species, some oragespot, a small rock bass, the fundulus notatus, a few longears, the redbelly dace, and some really nice rosyfaced shiners.
Mark kept the hogsucker, the redhorse, an attractive hybrid sunfish and some really nice orange spotted sunfish for photos.
We seemed to collect the larger orange spots in pairs
I lost only 3 small spotfins on the 4hr trip home. Everything is looking great this morning. The larger rosyfaced shiners are coloring up. The male darters are just beautiful. I have never seen a variagated darter before. THey are really big and just look neat. The greenside darters are very large (about 3")
On this trip, I became a believer in seines and waders.
I usually collect by myself so I have tended to focus on dipnets. Mark has an excellent 8' x 4' seine from Memphis twine and net. I was utterly astounded how many fish we could collect by the various seining techniques Mark uses. We caught fish in places that I would never believe we had a chance of finding anything. I'll be getting a seine in the near future and learning 1 man seining techniques.
I also learned the values of waders. I am always willing to suffer for fish, so I was just wearing shorts, tennis shoes, a sweater, and a coat. The water was in the upper 50's at both locations. After a little while, I was pretty cold, even though seining fast water is a ton of work. While I was soaked to the belly after the Olentangy, Mark pulled off his waders and was nice and dry. Gravel in the shoes is also not a problem when you're wearing waders.
At the little darby, we got hit by a huge rainstorm. So not only did I get wet from the creek, I got soaked from the rain. At least Mark's legs stayed pretty much dry with the waders.
The darby creeks have a very high diversity. It seems that the land near the creeks was not considered valuable until recently, so they were left pretty much alone for a long time. there are some really nice, sensitive species in the darby that used to be more widespread, but are now restricted due to habitat degradation.
One of the collecting trips for the convention will be on the big darby a some miles downstream of where we collected yesterday. we should find a ton of neat species on that trip.
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