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North Chick Mill Site 7/26/15

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#1 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 28 July 2015 - 10:55 AM

Sunday i returned to a favorite site late in the afternoon.  This is where a mill use to stand and a long cobbled riffle run leads to a deeper flowing pool just beyond the active bridge.  Upstream is a nice clean gravel seep that releases cool water into the creek's flow, helping a bit with clarity.  Today's visibility felt about 4' with the low rays of the afternoon sun providing some nice lighting.  Still my camera is pushed to make use of this low light situation and i continue to experiment with higher ISO setting, producing faster speeds and later using Corel Draw to enhance and alter the images and color.





Bracketed by the two cobbled substrate photos is the bridge crossing looking downstream.  The mill site is just beyond the bridge and olden stone and concrete structures remain. Several submerged plants are growing here, a common val, some type of thin fine leaved val and on the stones in the pool are lush growths of a mossy plant, somewhat similiar to Java Moss.  The more plants and cobble i see, generally the better the habitat locally.  In many cases the major damage to these urban streams has already occured and if there is no current disturbances they can be reasonably clear, and full of diversity, though nothing like before man made such a major impact on the watershed.





Several young Redlines were scattered in and out of the cobble.  I caught this female considering my approach, i always like those Redline eyes looking back at me.





I turned over a chunk of stone and found this dark crayfish, species unknown to me but holding steady for several photos.  I encounter a lot of Crayfish variety in the area.





Logperch are common here, probably a result of the cobble available for them to flip and hunt.  Adults and several 3" juveniles of which this is one.  I had cleared out a little area, moving the larger stones and fanning the silty debris away.  Within a few minutes all the various darters were moving in to pick at the exposed micro organisms.  Mostly Snubnose Darters, a few Redlines, a couple Rainbows, several Bluesides and of course the Loggies.  In the past, upstream and under the bridges shadows i have found hefty Greensides.  Not much more to expect here, but i always hope to see a Snail Darter as i do not believe one has been documented on this side of the river.  Duskies could make an appearance under brush or tree snags.





A pair of Warpaints were swimming high in the pool behind me.  I was suprised to catch this one with my camera.  ISO was set high at 800 and speed was 1/800.  I processed the image a bit to bring him forward out of the haze.

After i had enough, and a bit chilly with the sun setting behind the trees i explored upstream a bit and found 4 old but distinct River Chub mounds.  This may well be my most convenient option to observe active nests locally come next spring.  I may get 6' of visibility on the right day if i am lucky.  Though a lot of trash gets thrown off the bridge, ( yesterday i found a purse and a lot of clothing ), it is still an interesting location.  If we get into a drought situation later this Summer i will return for the potential increased clarity.  South Chickamauga Creek behind my home rarely offers enough clarity for such behavior.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

#2 trygon

  • NANFA Member
  • Knoxville, Tennessee

Posted 28 July 2015 - 11:12 AM

Very nice write up.  It brings back a lot of memories as I was all over that area during high school and college.

Bryce Gibson
There are sharks in every ocean...except Billy Ocean.

#3 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 18 July 2016 - 12:48 PM

North Chickamauga Creek July 13, 2016
To Walk the Creek.
We are in a severe drought this year, over 8" below normal, some areas 10".  And, as a few years ago it is an ideal time to explore this winding urban stream.  Not for a paddler, as they would be dragging their kayaks and canoes over gravel bars and through log jams, but for a creek walker, an opportune time.
The normally green turbid water is now clear with visibility of about 6'.  The creek being fed by a multitude of in stream springs, releasing cool 62 degree ground water contrasting with the high 90s afternoon air.  Where i first entered the creek the water temperature was bath water cool at 78.  But throughout the day's wading i encountered refreshingly chilly up flows from hidden springs sometimes evidenced by the clean gravel or sand boils.
Below the bridge, downstream, the creek had been rerouted by the Winter's high flows.  Gone was the central chute where Darters and Shiners had gathered, replaced this year by a wide even flow across the full width of the creek.  The substrate below was littered with all the rusting castoffs of our society both past and present.  Bicycle and car parts, lawn and home furnishings, along with bricks, blocks, tiles and old Double Cola bottles, broken glass and chipped dinnerware.  Everything gets thrown off the bridge.  Most modern pop bottle trash floats away, washed downstream, but the old glass bottles have been tossed, tumbled and partially buried by the silt and sand continually being washed down.  But not all the creek's substrate is silty sand, there are many runs with firm gravel, gnarly cobble and boulders jutting out sharp.  And plants were plentiful, providing living filtration though the many types i could not identify but did note Coontail and Water Willow while a thick lush java mossy growth covering many of the rocks in the calmer flow areas.
This bridged site is an old gathering spot, the mill's foundations still standing but the 4' diameter grinding stone now missing, having been seen just a few years ago.
Working our way upstream we came to a low damming, created either by man, beaver, nature or all, the running chute it generated provided a wondrous view.  Many species jostled in the current or darted along the clean cobbled substrate, shielded from the apex predators beyond by the flow's shallow depth, while the massive Bass lurked in the pools further downstream,.
Several log jams provided structure and habitat for bigger fish as i continued on, walking and snorkeling my way upstream.  I would chose inviting spots to lay in and was always greeted by many species finding refuge in the shadowed depths.  It was a treat to continually add a new specie or two at every new snorkelable location.
Though most breeding activity was over i did encounter an aggressive guardian of a nest of freshly hatched fry.  A gentle stirring of a stick's point offered no concern but a finger pointing into the shimmering veneer was met with a swift bite from the Redbreasted male.  Later i came upon a clean nest populated by beautiful Longear Sunfish which was left unguarded during my advances, the dominant male too timid or unconcerned to care.  A nearby pock marked pattern of Sunfish nests appeared to be long forgotten, filled in with debris, perhaps a series of earlier spawnings this season.
The 26 species encountered were...
River Chubs, Bigeye Chubs
Shiners: Warpaints, Striped, Golden
Sunfish:  Bass, Smallmouth, Largemouth or Spotted, Longear, Redbreast, Bluegill, Redear, Rock Bass, Warmouth and possibly Green and Spotted.
Darters: TN Snub or Blacks, Redlines, Logperch, Greenside, Banded, and Speckled / Blueside.  Bonus a couple nice Yellow Perch in a deeper cool pool.
When snorkeling a shallow pool of spring cleaned cobble we saw nicely colored Rainbow Darters and Blacknose Dace.
Missing from past visits were Blackspotted Topminnows and any of the large Redhorse Suckers.
I had hoped to see Snail Darters but the low conditions probably minimized the possibility and there is no known record of them in North Chick, but i don't see why they could not be here, being they are found just across the river in South Chick.
After yesterday's experience i am motivated to return and explore some of the other sites along North Chick.  There is another mill site and several springs i would like to revisit.  Another notable mention would be of the many large River Chub mounds we saw.  Dormant, flattened and covered by a rusty layer they testified to a productive Spring.  Our Spring had been dry and with an early warming probably would have provided ideal conditions to observe by but i had been focused and seeking the Dry Land Fish.  The same weather conditions that limited Morel finds probably would have benefited immersed observing of real water fish.
Mill site, bones of the structure still hold to the Earth.
Bottled here in Chattanooga, TENN.
Olden River Chub Mound.
Glassy fry protected by a finger nipping Father beyond.
Longear Sunfish, still pretty in low visibility.
Into the flow, the racing Warpaints dominate.  But where were the Tennessees, Whitetails, and Scarlets and Steelcolors i see in South Chick?
Grazing Stonerollers.
A trio of species... Bluegill, River Chub and a pair of Stonies.
Sculpin, probably Banded as there is no band in the dorsal.
Snubnose Darter.
Walking well upstream and looking back.  Recent winds had tumbled a lot of trees and broken leaved branches into the creek, making more needed structure.  Whenever you come to log jams often deep washes are flushed out from underneath making lairs and a refuge for the bigger fish.
In a spring's crystal clear pool Rainbow Darters and Blacknose Dace came to greet me.
26 species plus a few mysteries for the day.  These hot dry days are urging me back for another walk in the creek.  I plan so tomorrow.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

#4 Isaac Szabo

Isaac Szabo
  • NANFA Member
  • The Ozarks

Posted 19 July 2016 - 11:54 AM

Nice report and photos. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing. 

#5 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 19 July 2016 - 10:17 PM

I went back today, burned up 2 batteries.  Some nice photos but had to move into the headwaters for clarity.  I wrote a brief account tonight but many pictures to chose from and then prep and caption.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

#6 dsuperman

  • NANFA Member

Posted 20 July 2016 - 09:30 PM

An enjoyable read with  nice pictures from what looks like a beautiful place.Thanks.

#7 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 02 January 2017 - 03:55 PM

Reviewing my 2016 photos today I have several more days documented in North Chickamauga Creek during the 2016 drought.  I am looking through the photos and trying to find my field notes.  My intentions are to write an account under a new heading... North Chickamauga Creek 2016 as this heading is misleading as dated 2015.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

#8 MtFallsTodd

  • NANFA Member
  • Mountain Falls, Virginia

Posted 02 January 2017 - 05:08 PM

Nice looking creek. Looking forward to more pics.
Deep in the hills of Great North Mountain

#9 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 08 August 2017 - 05:25 PM

North Chickamauga Mill Site  Sunday August 6, 2017
After spending part of Saturday at TNACI i was aquatically motivated to check North Chickamauga Creek before the forecast rains came in.  It has been rain free the last week and this may be my last chance for decent clarity for awhile.  Upon submersion i was quite pleased to have between 6 and 8' of visibility, which is about a couple feet better than i have ever experienced here before.  Another surprise was how cold the water was on a hot August day.  Being bareskinned I ended up only lasting a couple hours and wished for my wetsuit after an hour of shivering.  The various fish kept me motivated though, but the only special activity was Redbreast Sunfish nests.  The males guarded them well but not to the point of finger nipping.  I could see no fry nor eggs but upon studying my closeup photos later i can see a few scattered eggs with embryos.
As for species observed the day i recall...
River Chubs
Warpaints, Striped Shiners
Logperch, TN Snubs, Bluesides, Rainbows, Redlines, Greensides Darters.
A lone Brook Silverside swam up to me which was a nice surprise.  They are so uniquely shaped.
Sunfish: Redbreast, Bluegills, Longear, Redear, Bass, maybe a fleeting glimpse of an angel finned Crappie.
There would have been several more if i persisted.  Topminnows, Whitetails, Yellow Perch, Sculpins, Dace... I keep hoping to see a Snail Darter as they are found in South Chick.
Looking downstream, nice and clear, lots of various plants, nice firm cobble but lots of rusty castoffs and broken Mason jars with gnarly sharp glass.
These guys are hard to see, nearly invisible as they sit upon the sandy areas until they dart.  Its hard to see how their sides can sport such electric blue in the Spring. 
Lots of crazy X crosshatching going on and looks like a hint of that blue their name pronounces.  They can really perch themselves high and alert on those pectorial fins.
A couple Rainbows were seen.  They seem to prefer the colder water and are usually only encountered at the spring basin just upstream.
A nervous Redline.  He would never let me get close for a proper photo.  They like the faster water in the shallow riffle runs.
The Snubs were the most common.  Some it appeared were plump with food, eggs or milt.  They were actively darting about, sometimes perching for a moment on rocks. Often 6 or so were in my view along with two or three Bluesides.  Some of the snubby male's noses were yellow green.
I don't think i have ever noticed the bit of red in the leading ray of his dorsal fin.  I know the Conasauga's Coosas have that too.  
Caught this logperch running through an unoccupied Sunfish nest.  There were several flipping rocks in the quiet areas.
Mr. Redbreast.  So handsome.
He's over his nest as a River Chub cruises in the distance.  Great visibility today.  Several nests were scattered beneath the log jam.
Odd angle.  He was quick to chase off other Sunfish but tolerated a gentle finger in the nest.
I'm not sure what this aquatic moss is but it was very lush covering much of the rocks submerged wood.  Sometimes in silty conditions it will be filled with silt but it was pleasantly clean today.  I suspect there is not much agricultural plowing going on upstream.
This is unknown to me, a very fine, vibrant green "aquatic grass".
Standing above and looking down into the shallow run at the "grass".  I ended up taking home 4 various plant samples and rooting them into a play sand filled long container for the cement pond.  Hopefully they will grow if they don't get uprooted by the nesting Longears.  So often urban stream are devoid of native aquatic plants, smothered out with silt and no light but here there were quite a few flourishing.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

#10 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 08 August 2017 - 06:38 PM

The moss might be one of the Fontinalis or Fissidens species, and I'd guess Eleocharis for the thin grassy plant.  Nice shots and descriptions!

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

#11 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 09 August 2017 - 07:05 AM

Awesome report once again Casper!  Again, you cheered up my morning!

Kevin Wilson

#12 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 16 August 2017 - 09:25 AM

TVA and TWRA was shooting electricity into this snorkel site the other day, right here.  Don't worry about those backpack shockers, it only feels like a a bit of carpet static.


There is news and fake news as some say.


But nonetheless it's a good perspective to see on my local TV.



Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

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