NANFA-- KY collecting (long)

Roselawn Museum (
Wed, 24 Oct 2001 12:17:44 -0400

Hi All

I spent last week in Louisville, KY. When Saturday (the 20th) rolled
around, it was time to do some collecting. I met up with Geoff Kimber
(Lexington, KY) about 10AM at a stream called Pope Lick tha belongs to the
hamlet of Fisherville, KY. This stream was the site of my first
introduction to collecting natives 27 years ago. It was as beautiful as I
recalled, and the nostalgia factor was high. The weather was the
70s with barely a breeze and lots of sun. The temperatures had been in the
40s earlier in the week so although the water was clear, it was much too
chilly for snorkeling. I WAS would have been great shock
training for the Michigan convention. (-: Instead, I opted for waders while
Geoff braved it in shorts and wading shoes.

Pope Lick is a clear running, shallow stream with a bottom made up of stone
and gravel. In this particular location there is also a cool oxbow that is
on the muddy side. I will never get used to the idea of streams being
privately owned, but such is now the case for a good section of Pope Lick,
unfortunately. The spot I selected, however, "belongs" to the local Parks
Dept. so we had access to a good 500 yards of water...more than enough as
it turned out. The fish were in abundance, with at least 23 species
recorded. (Geoff, feel free to chime in if I forget any!) Here's the list:

Longear sunfish
Spotted bass
Rock bass
Redhorse (golden?)
Northern hogsucker
Central stoneroller
Rainbow darter
Johnny darter
Banded darter
Greenside darter
( a mystery darter...fringed, perhaps)
Fantail darter
Bluntnose minnow
Spotfin shiner
Rosefin shiner
Common shiner
Bigeye shiner
Northern studfish
Black spotted topminnow
Black striped topminnow
Brook silversides

This stream used to be loaded with gizzard shad, but we didn't see any that
day (time of year, perhaps). The really neat surprise was the brook
silversides. Until now, Geoff is the only guy I've personally known to
successfully keep them alive. His touch must have rubbed off on me. We took
a 52qt. cooler out of my car and filled it about 3/4 of the way with clear
water from the stream, then Geoff dosed it with StressCoat. All the way
back to GA I kept periodically putting in ziplock sandwich bags filled with
ice to keep the water screaming cold. The bags kept the untreated ice from
melting into the cooler. The results were well worth the effort. Except for
one specimen that I nuked for the Borgia Ichtiopathology Lab, all of the
brookies survived and are doing well. In fact, I didn't lose a single fish
of any kind in transit.

The next site we visited was just east of downtown Louisville in a small
creek call Muddy Fork very near the main body of the Ohio River. This creek
was not nearly as pleasant, but I chose it because of the grass pickerel I
caught near there many years before. Geoff and I both hoped to bag a few of
them, but it wasn't happening that day. The bottom was mostly mud mixed
with sand. The mud was treacherous in spots and the snakes were awake. The
only one we encountered was a harmless brown water snake. Here's a list of
what we caught/observed:

Longear sunfish
Central stoneroller
Fantail darter
Bluntnose minnow
Spotfin shiner
Common shiner
White sucker

Geoff and I finally called it a day about 4PM. He got back on the road to
Lexington, and I headed back to the hotel. The next day, I began the drive
back to GA. I stopped briefly at the Nolin River and the Green River in KY,
but they were deep and not convenient for one-man seining. After I crossed
over into TN, I stopped at the Red River just below the KY line on I-65.
This was another wonderful spot! The water was shallow and clear, and the
bottom was solid rock. The collecting was easy so I didn't have to stay
long. Here's what I collected/observed:

Black spotted topminnow
Black striped topminnow
Northen studfish
a mystery topminnow that I have ID'd yet
Mountain shiner
Whitetail shiner
Fantail darter
Rainbow darter
TN snubnose darter
Greenside darter
Central stoneroller

I also stopped at the Elk River in TN where I-24 crosses it between
Altamont and Monteagle. This river was dead! Except for a very few TN
snubnose darters and the dreaded gambusia. I saw NOTHING...not only fish,
but all other life seemed to be absent as well. Does anybody have any info
on this river? It looks like it should support all kinds of life, but
something is definitely wrong there. After that, darkness prevented any
more collecting. When I got home, the water in the cooler was still so cold
it took all night for it to reach room temperature in the holding tank in
the fish room. I held my breath as I put the brook silversides into the
destination tank the next morning, but they did fine and appear to be
feeding. These are really beautiful fish to watch. All in all, a very
successful trip! I should have pictures up soon.

All The Best,

Steven A.Ellis
Kennesaw, GA

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