NANFA-- o hi o NANFA 2001
Mon, 3 Sep 2001 12:12:06 EDT
This is a report of my adventures to, during and from the Ohio NANFA 2001
It is a bit long so read it when you have the time and are thru with your
labor day barbeque...
I left Chattanooga Tuesday, midday and arrived at Pat Johnson's home at 10:30
that late night. I had read of Pat's tanks in American Currents ( Spring
1999... the issue w/ the Lamprey teeth on the cover :) and had spoken to him
on the phone several times at his home and from his Tennessee forays and was
very interested in seeing his system. These cooled tanks provided for the
best color i have ever seen on darters other than while snorkling in their
habitats. Absolutely stunning! Several tanks were injected from above w/
mineral filtered out well water while another tank was cooled with a modified
water cooler sporting a titanium coil immersed in the tank. Both systems
provided the cooling that i now believe is so nessesary to retaining the
excellent colors i witness while in their native environments. WOW! Pat has a
perfect water system and i wish him well on his planting attempts. You need
more light Pat, you have the perfect opportunity to create a very close to
natural spring run in your basement! Get some compact flourescents.
The next day Pat, Mark Binkley and i got together to look at some local Ohio
waters to the north of Columbus. We went to a little creek that they were
hoping i could snorkle in... i may have had a 2 or 3' visibility but the day
was overcast and a bit chilled, not good motivators to plunge in! We played
w/ a siene and dipnets. They were wanting to see some Red Side Dace and sure
enough we did. Mark taught me a ID technique in Orange Throat and Rainbow
Darters. Blue in the anal fin of Orange Throats and red in the anal fins of
Rainbows. I think i got it... Blue in Orange and Red in Rainbow! :)
We hit a little mudmuck creek draining the Ohio corn and soybean fields and
came up with a lot of Brook Sticklebacks. Being my first time to view them,
ive brought home 4 and left a single dried croaked one adherred to his
truck's side mirror as a little Friday morning greeting. Im going to setup a
small tank to observe them and possibly move them to the cement pond if there
present no detrimental effects to the already established current residents.
I would like to observe their nest building activities in a glass tank first
tho. In fact, im caring home tonight a 20 gallon glass jar formally used to
hold sulphuric acid from the Copper Hill mines... that may be their new home.
We also caught Stonerollers, Creek Chubbs, Southern Red Bellied Dace,
Topminnows, a bunch of Grass Pickeral, Sunfish, Orange Throated and Rainbow
Darters, a big Carp, a protected funny mouthed fish ( ? ). A bunch others im
sure but can't remember. We hit another crossing and this time i got in. I
watched a few Rainbows and some Speckled type Darters but could not catch
them for IDing as the Ohio boys were mucking it up while spashing about w/
nets and sienes. The water was nice and vegatated but visibity was not enough
to observe the shiners or quick movers well. It would have been a nice place
to spend a half day or so just being patient and observing in a few quite
We headed back to Mark and Susan's homestead and Pat headed home. Mark
showed me the 100+ tanks in his basement. That boy needs a warehouse! We had
a bit of fun feeding the catfish and alligator gar. Little beasties indeed...
bad tankmates if you happen to be a culled Oscar tho! We were a bit worn by
then so i demucked myself w/ a shower and crashed on a comfortable bed
intombed by a canyon of fish boxes.
The next morning, throughly refreshed, we visited a bit, had some breakfast
at a local diner, organized and swapped some gear and fish and i got
directions to head to the Hock-Hocking Hills of SE Ohio. I had promised Rob i
would get there by 3pm to help setup the conference. I arrived a bit late
after stopping for lunch, a quick look in a Army/Navy store ( always fun )
and a gander at a Noah's Ark play house. It was not being loaded so the
recent and now current rain showers did not concern me much anymore.
I arrived at the lodge... and was greeted by several NANFinians, my reserved
cabin ( very nice ) and a native 75 gallon tank in the lobby. Cool. I found
the secret back entrance and quickly set up my 10 gallon Tennessee tank. (
I'm glad to say that all the fish not only survived the trip up to Ohio but
are back now in my Tennessee studio eating blood worms and flake. :) Mission
accomplished! They just got a few new Ohio tankmates too!
We all had a bit of fun visiting, setting up, getting a meal and prepping
for the early morning Friday's speakers. Several of us headed to my cabin
after getting run out of the lodge... and as usual several forever
unmentioned NANFA members got carried away and we recieved a visit from a
ranger concerning the inappropiate fish and noise levels. Well... button my
lip. After the dispersal i fell into a contented sleep... only to awaken late
the next morning and just catching the end of Mark Smith's Brook Trout Tanks.
BTW... when you visit Pat's chiller tanks don't inattentively dip a finger in
his Trout tank... Yeow! I dont think he feeds them enough! The lectures were
interesting, historical, and cause for concern especially with the biting
Round Goby. " hey that guy bit me!" We can begin to clean up our messes ala
the Mahoning River but we are homogenizing the earth w/ transplanted
species... critters, plants and fishes.
That evening we got to celebrate Chris' four o birthday... but i cut out
early cause i didnt want to meet the ranger again. It is sure nice to visit
everyone and meet new folks. We really have a good group. Lots of fun.
Saturday... this is my day! I love getting in the water. Dividing into 2
groups, our group followed ranger Quackinbush to Queer Creek. It was not
what i expected :) by i was quite pleased to see several folks brave the
misty morning and cold, murky water to get a below the surface view. Mark
Otnes was the first brave soul, followed by Stephanie, Big Leo, Steve and
Michagan Bob. I stood on the bank... impressed w/ there dedication but still
not motivated. Red Sides, Red Bellies, Creek Chubbs were called out. Steph
saw some kind of Trout Perch? I started thinking how the water was mucked up
not only due to the recent rains but mostly because of the directly instream
roadwork to repair bridges and trails. I headed upstream... hoping to get in
front of this. Sure enough the water cleard a bit and i found myself at the
base of Cedar Falls. I quickly pulled on my suit and paddled out. Good
visibility. Chased a few Darters and looked up to see a Shoreload of gawkers
gawking. "Are you real?" "Hey Buddy... Whachadoin?" and a... "I guarantee he
is looking fer gold!" .... well not wishing to be the focus of such jabbering
and fearing for a rock toss to confirm life or death i moved downstream. But
boy is that park busy. Lots of folks everywhere. I guess when you live in
flat lands and cornfields, sandstone, creeks and waterfalls beckon w/ relief.
The rest of the NANFA group never moved upstream as discussed and i found a
note from the ranger on my windshield that i had been abandoned for lost! But
Mark had not given up on me.
Well back to the Conference Center where i decided to check out Rose Lake
just down the road a bit. Tumbling down a steep hill i found myself at a
bouldered, rip-racked dam facing a "No Swimming" sign. Feigning illiteracy i
plunged in and adjusted my mask. Reasonably clear, and i have not snorkled
many lakes... so off i went. Ranger Quackenbush had mentioned the possibility
of freshwater jellyfish in bloom. Sure enough i found a little gumball sized
pulsing orb illuminated by the sun rays. I sucked one in my recycled Dog n'
Suds bottle and paddled away from the sign. Lots of Sunfish, Bass and a 5 or
6 member group of BIG black Catfish. Pretty cool. More Jellyfish and some
Minnows. Probably bait bucket escapees but very elegant over the lush green
flats. Ellusive, but illuminated by the sun... enchanting. It was quite
pleasant to hover and enjoy the view. Eventually tho I was getting a bit
bored and tired so i began to collect fishing lures, bobbers and swivel
hooks. I bet i collected about 2 pounds of that stuff. Maybe i will open a
used fishin gear hut when i retire on a streambank somewhere someday. I find
a lot of stuff when im down under... more on this later. Im gonna start a
warehouse later, but i had to return GeeOff's new Mark Binkley style cooler
after he insisted HE had left it in the bag of my van :) BTW... where was
I headed back to the lodge after walking thru a family's campsite as a
"Creature from the Lost Rose Lake". The small children scurried to their
mother and the father reached for a tent pole. I apologized in a unknown
language and passed thru rather quickly not bothering to remove my mask or
snorkle nor the fishing lures and bobbers hanging from my suit. I located
Ranger Quackenbush, reaffirmed life, delivered pulsing Jellyfish in a jar and
quizzed him on other possible locations to immerse myself in. Off i went...
to the hoped for mecca of Hock-Hocking Hills waters. I found it in a small
stream broken into crystal clear pools. Few footprints, gravel filtered runs,
no tire tracks or trail work. Only a foot or 2 deep but wow... here i lay for
over an hour. The substrate was covered w/ scurrying Darters. Rainbows,
Orange Throats, FanTails, Greensides, Snubs, unknowns. Redbellied Dace, Black
Nose Dace, Red Sides, Stone Rollers and Creek Chubbs. A perfect little pool.
Nicer than any aquarium ive seen. Filled w/ life. Crayfish and the Dace
nipped and tickled my hands, hairs and freckles. I caught several rusty sided
Blacknose Daces just by slowly closing my fingers and encasing their squirmy
bodies. I collected a few specimens for Ranger Quackenbush's lobby tank as
requested and headed back for a shower, banquet and a spending spree. That
Phil Nixon is a tough auctioneer. If you dont watch it you will lose your
life's saving quick like and worse yet have to justify your actions when you
get back home to your wife. Boy is he a fast talker. And this year i only had
a couple of local brews, having learned at Elmer's gathering to stay away
from the wine. Geez. What am i gonna do with a giant UV algae blaster? :) I
was glad to see the Etnier shirt have such interest and bidding frenzy. It's
pretty cool. Ed Scott helped design it... it is printed w/ David's wit,
history and specie descriptions. I believe Chris and Steph ended up with
it... but being it is a XXL it will not fit Steph until she's fully gravid.
Chris needs an extra cheeseburger or 2 per day to get there. Sadly there was
not much interest in the Georgia folk artist Bebo's recently caught swamp
snaggler but im glad to see Mike make off w/ it for his son... may it provide
pleasant dreams. All and all i think a good bit of money was put in NANFA's
coffee can. Thanks to all the donors!
The next day, Sunday, Mark Binkley led us off to a creek after a lecture on
what we would see, collect and proper collecting etiqutte. That is a good way
to introduce a stream and its inhabitants before the splashing frenzy begins.
Unfortunatly it was not good to snorkle in cause of the rains but lots of
activity and siene dragging was had. Mark set up a tank on the bank where we
could view the various species collected. I believe he has posted a species
list already. Lots of cool stuff. The British fellas showed up w/ a LongNose
Gar in a plastic baggie from a downstream foray, and feverishly discussed the
possibility of carry-on gar-baggage. We had a bit of fun and i enjoyed
dragging the siene arround w/ Nathan. Lots of different habitats resulted in
various squirmies in the net. Pretty cool. Lots of stumbles, wet folks and
A few of us followed Pat to another 2 sites. I was able to lay in a small
flow and within an hour enjoy and hand net catch a Blue Breast, Tippicanoe,
Greenside, Rainbow, Orange Throat, FanTail and Varigated Darter. I had wanted
to set them free after confirming my ID skills but Mark lectured me on not
sharing my fine catches and i had to contribute a few to my streammates
buckets. Those Varigateds are really honcho. BIg dudes... i bet they are
something to see in the spring. They kinda remind me of Sculpins and Snail
Darters. I bet they eat a lot in a aquarium tho.
We said our goodbyes and Mark Otnes and i headed back to the Hocking cabin
for our last night in Ohio. I drained, coolered the TN fish, loaded the 10
gallon tank and got my gear together for an early morning departure in quest
of Kentucky Arrow Darters...
continued in part 2...
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