Saturday morning was beautiful. I have been amazed all year long at the way
almost all of our collecting trips have been attended by really nice
weather, but this was one for the books. I met up with Casper Cox around
9:30AM at Sallicoa Creek near Fairmount, GA. Mr. Steve Brannon owns a rural
lumber yard that adjoins the creek, and he gave us permission to park there
and access the creek from his land. It seems like a small thing, but it's
really a relief to work from private property when you've got expensive
cameras and other gear.
The water was very clear over a substrate of rocks and sand, but it was
quite cold at first (kinda' made me remember Hocking Hills!). When I saw
that Casper didn't die from water shock, I plunged in behind him. The first
five minutes were challenging, but the view made up for it. Right away, we
saw lots of Alabama shiners, tricolor shiners, rainbow shiners, redbreast
sunfish (and a few longear), redeye & spotted bass, black redhorse, and
many blackside darters. I saw a group of about 6-8 large drum, but they
would not let me get closer than about twelve feet.
For the first time, I used a point-and-shoot underwater disposable camera.
I got the pictures back yesterday and only found a few decent shots.
However, I was pleased with the experiment. Right away I discovered that
motion is a real problem, not only the moving fish, but the inevitable
camera movement due to the oversized trigger mechanism. Flash would have
been helpful too, although I chose my shots with as much sun overhead as
About 11, Bruce Stallsmith joined us, and we broke out the seine and
dipnets. The collecting was good, with 24 species logged. One lone
topminnow was captured and it immediately became the subject of a debate. I
am convinced it was Fundulus catenatus, but the other guys believe it was
F. stellifer. Even without my glasses, I offered to eat the specimen in
question if I was wrong. This fish (temporarily called, F. controversius)
is in preservative awaiting a trip down to Andy Borgia for positive ID. If
I am wrong, I hope the fellows will allow me to substitute another fish for
my meal instead of the one presently marinating in formalen. (-:
After a break for lunch, we headed SW to the 2nd site, Raccoon Creek. This
location is between Cartersville & Dallas, GA. Here we were joined by
Sharon Allsup from Winston, GA. (You really appreciate someone who brings
along Frappucino for snack time!) Casper was the only one who snorkeled at
this site, so the rest of us chose the opposite fork to begin collecting.
The fish were not as easy to come by in this stream due to much deeper
pools, mud, snags, and a host of unwelcome gambusia. As the sun moved lower
in the sky, the fatigue factor also came into play. Until then, the locals
were strangely absent, but they began to appear as we prepared to leave.
Sharon, Bruce, and I walked past a young genius sitting in the dirt,
straddling a large tent peg, and pounding it in with a rock...an accident
waiting to happen.
Anyway, we caught many of the same species as well as bronze darters and a
single riffle minnow. We netted some huge F. stellifer, which I should have
held up to the little guy we caught earlier in the day for comparison. The
digital pictures (coming later) turned out better with the use of a
backdrop, but they are bag shots, so there's still some distortion. I'm
working on a homemade viewer for the next outing.
All The Best,
Steven A. Ellis
God Bless America
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