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Wildcat Landing on the Mississippi River, SE MN, 8/22/2016

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#1 Evan P

Evan P
  • NANFA Member
  • Knoxville, TN

Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:25 PM

Hey there everyone. I have never been very good about posting trip reports, but decided to test out my photo tank on a short outing I planned with Nick, an entomologist friend of mine.


After a drive filled with discussions of taxonomy of both bugs and fishes, we arrived at our first site, a scientific natural area where we hoped to observe some insects and herps, but the no-trespassing signs remained from the days before the  state's recent acquisition of the land, so we decided not to chance it. We went on to the next site, which was more flooded than I had expected, leaving about three-hundred feet of shin deep water with an unknown depth of mud below it between the road and the site I had hoped to sample. So, we went to my backup location, one where I seem to regularly find interesting creatures in an odd place to find much of anything; a busy boat landing on the main channel of the big, muddy Mississippi. 


Sampling 8-22-2016-11.jpg


Sampling 8-22-2016-10.jpg


We began dragging my 25 foot seine across the sandy flats and came up with a selection of minnows. Upon closer inspection, we had a few dozen Spotfin Shiners, having faded after summer flings. Fall is coming.

Sampling 8-22-2016-4.jpg


In the pile of silver, I noticed some red iridescent lines. This is a telltale sign of the uncommon River Shiner.

Sampling 8-22-2016-9.jpg

And finally, the staple of all shallow water in this region, Brook Silversides turned out in droves. They were surprisingly hardy, this fish being released alive after several minutes of handling.


Sampling 8-22-2016-6.jpg


In the next sweep, this time across the concrete ramp where the water flowed with the full force of the great river, we felt something larger in the net. As we retrieved the net, I was first drawn to this large carpsucker which appears to be a Quillback.

Sampling 8-22-2016.jpg

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a longer, narrower vacuum mouthed creature. I rushed over and picked up one of my favorite species in disbelief. Northern Hogsuckers are a very rare find in the main stem of the Mississippi.

Sampling 8-22-2016-2.jpg

After looking past the larger, more attention grabbing fish I noticed a few new silver slivers. A dark black lateral line signified the presence of Weed Shiners, an underappreciated little Notropis.

Sampling 8-22-2016-7.jpg

Then, a caudal spot pressed through the platinum mass; a Spottail Shiner.


Sampling 8-22-2016-8.jpg

I thought I had found another Spottail, but black on the dorsal and a more rounded face revealed another Mississippi regular, the Bullhead Minnow.

Sampling 8-22-2016-12.jpg

After pulling a couple handfuls of glimmering fishes out of the net, a Logperch's tiger stripes caught my eye.

Sampling 8-22-2016-5.jpg

We decided to set down the seine for a while so we could each turn to our personal nets; mine a Perfect Dipnet, his a sweeping net. We worked as an amphibious team, his sampling centering on the Sandbar Willow and Arrowhead, mine on the Vallisneria and overhanging edges. A Tadpole Madtom emerged from the shadows, avoiding the bright light of the midday August sun.


Sampling 8-22-2016-15.jpg

Surprisingly late in the sampling, the first Centrarchid emerged from a lush underwater forest. It was none other than the bane of my existence, the Bluegill.


Sampling 8-22-2016-14.jpg


One last run with the seine revealed three more species. Another sucker, this time a Golden Redhorse.

Sampling 8-22-2016-16.jpg

A tail that drew to mind the colors of fall gave away this young and fat Smallmouth Bass.

Sampling 8-22-2016-18.jpg

The last species to add to the list is one I could never quite ascertain the origin of the name until I placed this one in a photo tank. The Emerald Shiner is true to its name when it reflects light through water.


Sampling 8-22-2016-13.jpg




Fourteen species is quite impressive for this location, and I left excited to have found such a selection all the while teaching another scientifically minded person about my interests and learning about the numerous species of Sarcophaga and other flies zipping past our heads. Biologists of all kinds should get out into the field together more often. Crossing disciplines is one of my favorite activities and inspires me to think of my own field of study in a different way. I now understand why you can almost hear the giddy in Michael's voice every time he types out the word "bioblitz."

3,000-4,000 Gallon Pond Full of all sorts of spawning fishes! http://forum.nanfa.org/index.php/topic/13811-3560-gallon-native-fish-pond/page-3 


#2 mattknepley

  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:47 PM

Nice report, Yeahson! There's a few species in there that I wouldn't have pictured as occurring together. Nice pics, too. Thanks for posting.
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#3 Evan P

Evan P
  • NANFA Member
  • Knoxville, TN

Posted 23 August 2016 - 03:21 PM

I am glad you noticed. This site regularly produces odd groupings of fish, but yesterday was exceptionally odd. This has a lot to do with the coldwater tributary that comes in just upstream, and this effect is amplified by all of the flooding we have been experiencing this summer. Species get washed out of the upper stream, congregate near this mixing of water temperatures, and faster-flow loving species like the Hogsucker appreciate the heightened flow of the main channel and a relatively clean and loose sand bed created by the influx of water.

3,000-4,000 Gallon Pond Full of all sorts of spawning fishes! http://forum.nanfa.org/index.php/topic/13811-3560-gallon-native-fish-pond/page-3 


#4 Dustin

  • Forum Staff

Posted 23 August 2016 - 03:31 PM

It's amazing to me that the spottail here and there are still the same species.  They look absolutely nothing alike.

Dustin Smith
At the convergence of the Broad, Saluda and Congaree
Lexington, SC

#5 Casper

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

Posted 23 August 2016 - 04:00 PM

That is a cool trip report Son of Yeah.

Excellent words, thoughts, images and ID skills.

Much enjoyed.

Do more of such.

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

#6 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 23 August 2016 - 06:52 PM

That looks like a great day!  Suckers and logperch and Cyprinella and madtoms... you got everything man.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#7 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Board of Directors
  • Ohio

Posted 24 August 2016 - 08:54 PM

Perfect vigilax. Shows that really deep caudal peduncle compared to notatus.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#8 BenCantrell

  • Moderator
  • San Diego, CA

Posted 25 August 2016 - 04:28 PM

Great report.  I learned something about river shiners, a fish I have not encountered. :)

#9 olaf

  • NANFA Member

Posted 26 August 2016 - 03:56 PM

Very cool! The photos are super clear. If you used something other than your hand to hold the fishes still against the glass so the fish could be isolated from the background, they'd be textbook quality.
I have used the phrase "bane of my existence" for bluegills more than once, but when fishing, not netting.
Redhorse ID downloads and more: http://moxostoma.com

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