NANFA-- That's why they call it "fishing"....

Crail, Todd (
Sun, 29 Sep 2002 00:41:52 -0400

... And not "catching". :)

Well, fellow NANFAn Eric Massengil and I "braved" a fall - not a cloud in the sky 70 degree day - today and took what for awhile, seemed an arduous journey around Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. This was my first time meeting Eric in person and, with the good fortune normally found in fellow NANFAns, we had plenty of lively discussion and an enjoyable time chasing after those pesky, seemingly unpresent native fish (Oh twist my arm to go do it again tomorrow! Ouch! Ouch! Okay. I'll go :)

We began the trip at Ten Mile Creek in Sylvania, Ohio. This is one of my favorite streams as it has plenty of impressive Orangethroat and Blackside darters. Where they were today, I haven't the slightest. We looked here, we pushed there. We picked up there, we kicked over there. And here we'd walked in with the pretense that it was literally crawling with fish such as the Grass Pickerel, as Eric has an affinity with the more "dangerous fish". This wouldn't be the first time I was a liar today <sigh> I hope Eric doesn't believe that I am :)

The big whoppin' list for Ten Mile Creek:
Orangethroat Darter - Etheostoma spectabile
Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus
Creek Chub - Semotilus astomaculatus

We could have walked a little further to increase our viewed species list with Stonerollers and perhaps Johnny Darters... However, as frustrating a time as I had last with Nick Zarlinga in capturing a Johnny Darter... We were on to look for greener waters (Literally. Due to the drought the water was gin clear and perhaps that was part of our problem. But I'll leave the blame on my apparent inferior abilities as guide for now... ;)

On our way, I was able to find some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) with ready to harvest pods. This was exciting for me, as the drought this summer has left most of the plants at the preserve I volunteer for, with aborted attempts to seed. So now we'll have that for the seed mix :) I also spied many other goodies to collect at a later time, so Eric wouldn't have to stand around and watch me botanize all day. I'll spare you all the droning details of this "Lucas County Almanac" and pass it along to the more appropriate Wild Ones email list :)

Noting Eric's affinity for toothy critters, I thought back to the access on Lake Erie at Erie, Michigan we had visited during the Convention, and suggested that there was a high potential for seeing some Longnose Gar there. He seemed up for it and purchasing a one day liscence, which Michigan is *very* good at providing (both of us reminisced recent encounters with "The Man") and so we were on our way. A round about way that is. I thought it was by the Monroe Power Plant. 20 minutes later and a trip into both the Monroe Power Plant and Fermi Nuclear Reactor parking lots (not anywhere either of us would want to be), I'd thrown my hands up and we were back on our way toward more familiar territory closer to the Ohio border.

Taxonomic Tangent: If a species were to be named after a guy named "Fermi" would it be called "fermii" or "fermiii" ? ;)

On our way to the Sterns Road exit, things began to look familiar and then I realized that the originally sought power plant was the ERIE Power Plant and we quickly found ourselves on that familiar beach. The piles of zebra mussels and asiatic clam shells greet us and were sadly, a preminition of our collecting activities there. The water was very low this time around, and that fantastic habitat under those branches we all enjoyed back then, was high and dry. So we started pushing. And pushing. And pushing. And we went along the piling, and pushing. We caught drooooves of fish, however, the list looked like this:

Bullhead - Amerius sp. (1 specimen)
Bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus (2 specimens)
Common Goldfish - Carassius auratus (Anyone need feeders?)
Round Goby - Neogobius melanostomus (Wow. And to think there might have been all sorts of darter and sculpin here at one time.)
White Perch - Morone americana (Just go back to the East coast where you belong, okay?)

Now remember... We were out here "putting up" with this stuff on *such a rough day*... So my apparent frustration is mostly jest :) On to Sterns Road, Erie, Michigan....

This was a spot where in my younger days, we would go out and perform the man-boy ritual of spearing carp. It was a great outlet of testosterone and was fantastic for getting away from those confusing girls... And usually landed us some quick cash at the local carryout (people would eat it after they bought their lottery tickets, cigs and alcohol, I guess), not to mention a near-deviant *legal* way of reducing the "tubidity monsters" populations. We were quick to discover that the once expansive sand bottomed inlet where my friend and I chased after a 45 pounder, he <ahem> errantly decided to prong, for an hour and a half... Had eutrophisized into a thick, mucky, solid stand of European Reed (Fragmites sp.).

However, we found some pools right by the road that used to be boat slips that had some fish in them. It looked too tempting to pass up with all the native and wildlife harboring Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) still viable in this slightly deeper area. Well, we caught some fish... But not until after a great deal of laughter, a near incident of a lost boot, and some really really reaaaaallly stinky mud flung everywhere! I swear we released the equivalent Hydrogen Sulfide and Methane that say, the entire cow herd of Oklahoma puts off daily. Phew. At one point, I was up to my waist in "the water". Eric said "Oh that must be like 2 foot deep huh?" I put my fingers to the mud to show the depth... The water's surface was only to my wrist LOL. That was when I passed the seine back and said "Okay. Please pull." :)

The slightly better, much more humored list for Sterns Road was:
Bullhead - Amerius sp.
Pumpkinseed - Lepomis gibbosus
Bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus
Largemouth Bass - Micropterus salmoides

Blackstripe Topminnow (Fundulus notatus) and some Cyprinids were observed as well... But good luck to anyone trying to catch them in that mess! :)

The mud exhausted us. It was time for lunch and some water, so we went about foraging under the halo of the Golden Arches (tm). Eric had earlier expressed an interest in aquiring a couple decent sized juvenile channel catfish to add to his bowfin aquarium, and I thought I knew the perfect place to angle for them... What will this make? Strike number 3, you're out!???

A quick stop at each of our homes to grab shorts and fishing poles (and of course, view each other's aquaria :) and we were off to the Mighty Muddy Maumee River, Maumee, Ohio, which was *amazingly* clear. It was probably 18" visibility, which is absolutely insane for that watershed with all the agricultural run off. I like droughts in some ways, I guess ;) Sarah later suggested that I should go snorkel it, but then I reminded her of the time we did E. coli swabs from a tributary, and at a 10x dilution, we still couldn't get a discernable count (Read: The whole culture dish was COATED with them).

Anyway, the unusual clarity had produced an excessive amount of net-like hair algae that was floating down in clumps with the additional water Isidore had provided to the region yesterday. It was neat, in one way, that the water still didn't cloud after so much rain and that something besides phytoplankton had prospered once in spite of human activity... However, the coatings our bait would get immediately from the algae were near maddening. So much for the catfish. <sigh> So we broke out the seine and tried to make the best of it. Again, a short list, however, we caught a very large Logperch. It was 5-6" and really showed how impressive the species can be. I'd hoped to run across some type of Noturus, but that hope was never answered. The list ended up:

Greenside Darter - Etheostoma blennoides
Bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus
Logperch - Percina caprodes
Emerald Shiner - Notropis atherinoides

Northern Hogsucker (Hypentelium nigricans) and other various Cyprinids were also observed.

Well... That's about it for our adventure today. I guess it wasn't really impressive as far as species observed, but what IS impressive is that *again*... Two complete strangers can get into a car some morning and take off and have an enjoyable day out on the water... Then part ways as friends, already discussing "Next Time". For these types of experiences, I'm certainly greatful for NANFA. :)

Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.
- Obi Wan Kenobi
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