On Monday I checked out the Hiawassee River just below where Spring Creek
enters it and I got my first Snail Darter. It was on a shallow rapid shoal
in the main river. I had a hard time keeping my footing and in fact I was
being pushed backward by the current and I noticed a darter move next to my
left foot. I drifted back to look at it and found it was an unmistakable
Snail Darter. What a great fish! I observed it for about 15 minutes and
then went on my way. It's amazing that such a distinctive darter when
unnoticed until the 1970's.
The next couple of days I worked the Conasauga River and its tributaries.
The most noteworthy thing for me was the commonness of Bridled Darters. I
was seeing them all over the Canasauga from Jacks River down to the highway
74 bridge. I also saw many in Minnewauga Creek, just below the location of
Willis Springs, and at the mouth of Scheeds Creek. Etnier mentions
Minnewauga Creek as a locale for this species in both spring and fall, so I
guess my observation wasn't as earth-shaking as I thought.
The high Conasauga had its usual common Holiday and Bronze Darters, and some
Black-banded Darters. I also saw two large and colorful Southern Studfish
at the mouth of Scheeds Creeks. Large drums were common in the deep pools
of the main river.
I spent a whole day both above and below the highway 74 bridge over the
Conasauga. I was hoping to find Amber and Tri-color Darters. I struck out
on both species, but still had a good time in the area. I particularly have
fun playing cat and mouse with studfish with my 4X4 seine. I actually
managed to catch quite a few of them and brought back two small ones for my
Finally saw a female Coldwater Darter in a spring on the upper part of Sugar
Creek. I netted her in with a bunch of weeds. I made the identification
and quickly put her back. About the only other species of fish I found in
the area were gambusia.
Once again I had a very enjoyable time in Tennessee and of course there
wasn't enough time to do and see everything I wanted. It makes for a good
excuse for a lifetime trips to the region. I think I saw 4 new species for
me - Greenfin Darter, Saffron Shiner, Coldwater Darter, and Snail Darter.
Thanks for you help in guiding me to locations Casper, and thanks to both
Casper and Pat for their company.
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