NANFA-- o hi o NANFA 2001 (2)
Mon, 3 Sep 2001 12:18:04 EDT

...Kentucky Arrow Darters. What a fish... i had seen a couple in Pat's tank
and Mark Otnes was keen on collecting a few. Mark shared w/ me his maps,
plans and locations so off we went bright and early... boy he is a early
riser! And what a winding drive! Those Kentucky Appalachian twisty roads go
on forever. We checked several locations hi-lighted in the gazateer by those
in the know to no avail. We were able to snorkle a few sites... but no
Arrows, but good viewing at a couple places... some neat Fantails. Some of
the sites were really trashed out but still held a lot of species. Pat said
the Arrows were in tiny streams, under big rocks, and way back a mile or 2
hike upstream and was kinda like looking for Crawdads. Well i think they are
a myth! :) We had a lot of fun, but it was a bit tiring and frustrating cause
of limited time and knowledge... we should have put in a call to Mr. Pat.
Toward the end of the day we crossed a good stream and i got back in.
Greensides, Emeralds, Snubs, Freckled Bellies ( like Duskies ) and, lo and
behold another Varigated Darter. I caught a specie of each to ID and let most
go back to the beautiful flow. Ive got three in a cooler to establish in a
tank later. The Emerald or Banded, a red dorsaled snub and the Freckled(?).
It was getting dark so we split up, headed south 2 ways and geared for our
rendevous the next morning at the Emory in upper TN. We had hoped to meet w/
Ranger Rob for a day of snorkling but he had been called off for a fire
fight. After talking w/ the ranger on duty he put us in touch w/ Ranger Steve
to the north at BIg South Fork. He was hesitant to share information with us
not knowing our intentions and lectured and expressed his concerns markedly.
I assured him we were just observing at this protected location and would not
take nets into the water. He invited me to participate with him on surveys at
BIg South Fork and i eagerly look forward to this in the future. Talking w/
another ranger we were able to hike upstream of Nemo's landing about a half
mile. Then we snorkled and bouldered upstream for another 1/2 mile.
Immediatly we observed Tangerine Darters. This is so typical... almost
everytime it is the first species seen and always a welcoming treat. They
were everywhere... but the majestic ones, in beautiful color, were the
dominate males found just below big rapid flows. Tangerines are always so
inquisitive... readily approaching you. I lay in one spot for 15 minutes
feeding the Tangerines, White Tails and Torquoise Shiners crushed Asian
Clams. The White Tails were the abundant shiner and some of the males were
still in partial breeding color. I also ran into a 2" lounging Long Nose Gar
at the outflow of a large pool. We also saw a lot of Shad cruising by us in
hi-speed formations. Fish poop carpeted the pool substrate, i can only guess
what was depositing it, probably the shad or maybe carp... it was in vast
more quanities than the fish we saw. We also came across the frame work of a
railroad car encrusted in rust. Kind of a odd site in beautiful waters. An
old coal mining relic i reckon. As for my notes we also saw Telliscope,
Stripe, Warpaint and Emerald Shiners, Greenside, Bluebreast, Log perch and
Redline Darters, Hog Suckers, Stonerollers, Long Ear Sunfish, Red Horse, some
very black Bass (?) and many species we did not know. I still did not see any
Gilt Darters here yet saw lots about 5 miles downstream this summer. Also no
breeding colored Tourquise shiners were seen... but i saw enough of them to
ID them easily in the future. The former name Spot Fin Chubb is also
appropiate as they were often bottom grazing on algaed stones. Nets and
baggies would have been handy to help ID some of the darters but that was a
no-no here and i had no desire to spend time in the local clanger. I sure
wish a skilled IDer was w/ us. We, i once again plunged my body into recesses
and big flows looking for Olive Darters. No luck... i want to see one of
them! They probably would not do well in a aquarium since they inhabit such
torrents. im gonna have to wrangle Dave, JR or Ed to show me. I did return to
the plunging waterfall site that i collected 3 fishing poles, a tackle box
and a roll of duct tape from. This time i got a small confederate flag and
couple of diving masks but it looks like someone had a head on collision w/ a
rock while body surfing the chutes...CRACK! right down the middle. I may rig
the rebel battle flag as a dive flag for my next trips up north:) We visited
another site... Rock Creek and also saw a very handsome Dusky Darter, several
Red Ear Sunfish and a couple odd Darters... as well as a big 6 or 8"
MudPuppy. At first i thought it was a HellBender but it had the big exposed
gills at the head. Ive never seen one near that big. It was in Rock Creek at
the highway but it was kinda creepy, silted, trashed out but vegatated and
lots of critters under big stones. My ears are hurting a bit now tho... hum.
Mark was eager to retire for the day but i talked him into checking out a
couple more sites for future reference and returns. This coal mining issue
has me really thinking how much that has greatly reduced species in some
watersheds. We did find one more crystal clear site at Jett Bridge but w/ my
limited snorkle time i only saw a few species and only one darter. However
there were some really cool plants creating a under water utopian forest.
What a week! I had to get home and ready for work Wednesday but Mark still
had 3 more days of exploring. Im eager to hear of his experiences! What a
guy... very pleasant and quick to jump in his car and explore descending from
the great north lands of Dakota. We are hoping to get a trip in this spring
for some breeding colors and snorkling.
As usual the NANFA gathering was a blast. Educational, good people, lots of
fun, some good food... but i sure missed Bessie's cooking :), new places to
see and experience. I want to especially thank Pat Johnson and his family,
and Mark and Susan Binkley for their overnight hospitality. I would like to
return it one day. Thanks to Rob for organizing such a good time... i sure
wish i could have brought my family and arrived for a few days in advance to
hike and explore the caves, waterfalls and formations. The Hills are very
beautiful and a real treasure to you local folk. Ranger Quackinbush, Mark
Smith, Mike Wolfe, and all the speakers... thanks for sharing your time. I
appreciate Nick teaching us his techniques for creating cool realistic
habitats for our fish... maybe i can get up there one day and see his work
first hand. Im gonna have to invest in that full body chemical suit ahead of
time tho :) I was especially glad to see, thank and talk w/ our founder John
Bondhus. I told him how happy ive been to meet so many fishheads who are just
as eager to get in the water as i. I told him how i couldnt get my regular
friends to pull sienes, get mucky and snorkle and he said that is why he
started NANFA. That made me smile. He also told me of his spring fed ponds...
which is what i searched for several years until finally settling in a home
adjacent to South Chickamauga Creek and a cement pond in the front yard. A
really good guy. We are indebt to him... all of us!
I missed seeing Elmer, BG, Ray Katulla, Dave Neely, Jay, Martin ( last
year's host ) and the Aussie Unmack. But we did get 3 Brits from across the
water... boy were they excited. I hope they got home w/ no leaks in their
That is about it... there may be enough time and warmth to get in the water a
couple more times before the year's season is out... maybe i can get down to
Florida :)
Thanks everyone for making a great experience!

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