NANFA-- It just wasn't my day. Also, a mystery.

Mysteryman (
Sun, 16 May 2004 20:36:41 -0700

I decided to take advantage of a break in the rain to go collecting
today. I had learned, somewhat, of a good spot to get Rainbow Shiners
which was a lot closer than the place I had been planning to go. Well, I
had mixed results.

I went to the tiny little town where the creek was supposed to be. The
guy who told me about it warned me that I wouldn't be able to see it
from the road, but my Delorme Map showed me numerous possibilities.
I couldn't find anything.
I did find a shrivveled ditch which may have, before the drought we've
been having, been a creek. It was in the right place, but it was cut off
from the bigger creek it fed, and wasn't flowing. The water was full of
fry of undetermined species, but access was nearly impossible.
I kept looking around, but without any luck. It was Sunday, and
everything was closed and no one was out and about where I could have
asked them stuff. This town is VERY tiny, so if I could have found a
single living soul, I probably would have been able to get directions.
I finally gave up on that immediate area and tried my luck a couple of
miles away. I went down the road the map showed, and soon came to a
bridge. Looking down, I found a creek very unlike the others. It was
crystal clear, flowing, and had a gravelly bottom. Textbook perfect
Rainbow habitat! Geting down to the water was pretty tricky, but I
finally made it. The water was full of fish, but none of them remotely
resembling Rainbows. There were fry everywhere, but no adults. Could the
fry have been Rainbows?
I pressed on.
Eventually I found myself several miles upriver of the first creek I
tried, and this time things were a lot more promising, as the water was
much clearer and the bottom was gravelly instead of muddy. No Rainbows,
though. I was getting annoyed.
I saw three more likely looking prospects on the map, and went to check
them out for spite.
The first was a bust. The second was a bust. The third I couldn't find.
I turned around and tried again, and this time I found a little ditch
which on the map looked like a big creek. It was just a little culvert
area, but it inexplicably was home to dozens of fish of-in-least 3
species. They were smart, too, for when I approached they dove into the
culvert. I could see that they were not rainbows, but one species did
have a distinctive golden stripe. Another species was a bit bigger than
the rest, and it had a stunning color pattern of grey and black in a
marble-swirl. It looked like a sucker, but had catfish colors. It was
nifty, whatever it was. I haven't been able to pin it's ID down yet.
Again, lots of fry.
I continued back down the road, and I spotted an area where the trees
had a gap in them. I got out and looked, and sure enough I found the
actual creek, Beaver Creek. It was about a 25 foot drop straight down to
the water, and I couldn't figure out a way down to it. That was a shame,
because I had finally found something worth the bother.
No, no Rainbows. There werre, however, more of the species I had seen
before, and one new one which blew me away.
The water was quite clear, and right down the middle of the creek were
four fish nests. Guarding each nest was a glorious fish I still haven't
been able to identify.
This mystery fish was a sight to see. For starters, the colors were
amazing. This fish had a metallic golden dorsal keel ( back ) which
reflected the sun like crazy. The body was a bright, vivid yellow. But
wait, there's more! It also had a series of vertical bands which were
pink and red! The Caudal fin was wide and kind of stubby, and a
brilliant scarlet red! The shape of the fish was unusual as well. This
was no minnow. It was very deep-bodied, that is, tall, and it didn't so
much swim as swiftly waddle. It looked for all the world like some sort
of big pupfish! It was about 3 inches long and about half that tall.
When I first saw it, I seriously thought that it was some sort of
Nothobranchius african Killie! Next I thought it was some sort of
Well, I've been reading everything handy, and I have reached the
conclusion that I have no conclusion. However, I did find that the Green
Sunfish turns red and yellow when it spawns. Could these have been Green
Sunfishes? Would they be spawning-in-only 3 inches in length?
Does anyone have a clue?
I continued working my way back to civilization, and I decided to try
one last spot. BG had once told me that Rainbows could be found in this
little town I was suddenly in, I found the most likely looking spot in
the area.
Nope, no rainbows. I did, however, manage to finally bag some of those
other fish which had been taunting me all day. It took awhile to finally
ID them, but it turns out they were Burrhead Shiners. This isn't normal
Burrhead territory, but there is an isolated anomalous range for them,
and I was right smack in the middle of it. Burrheads look kind of like
Rainbows, actually, but with the colors all washed out of them.

Well, that's that.
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