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Daddy-daughter day trip

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#1 mattknepley

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

Posted 27 November 2016 - 12:11 PM

Erin and I had a seat o' the pants, last minute day trip to Pickens and Oconee Counties yesterday. The day got off to a goofy start when we realized the Clemson v. Carolina game was in Clemson and not Columbia. It was of note because Erin wanted to check out a spot in the Clemson Experimental Forest we had been to some time ago. So, after some minor game day traffic delays (it was still 8 hours till kick off) we got through Clemson. Managed to miss the turn to CEF twice, and then realized it didn't really matter because the forest was closed to vehicle traffic. Unless your vehicle was a horse. Or a mountain bike. So we guessed at directions for a while, found a lake to explore, but whose highlight turned out to be a half submerged, recently dead deer. Eventually we found our way up to one of our favorite spots, the Chattooga River in the mountains on the SC/GA border. The drought was very much in evidence. I have never seen the river lower. Our fave swimming hole, while still swift, was very wadeable. Places I had seined/dipnetted in early August of this year were very high and dry. Made a few half-hearted casts with a small spinner and caught what I expected; nothing.

But the very low water allowed me to work the river a little more thoroughly than in the past, and I was happy to find many smallish, but healthy fish. Found a few nice Turquoise Darters, a couple Mottled Sculpin, some young chubs, a couple definite Blueheads but maybe a River mixed in; Longnose Dace, y.o.y. Yellowfin Shiners, and a couple Darned Ifiknows. The highlight in the finny parade was my first Warpaint Shiner! We only had an hour or so to play, goof off, and photo before dark started to set in and we had to schlepp back through prime time Clemson game traffic, but it was a really good day. My usual lame photos follow... :)

The droughted Chattooga...



A fairly causal look at the steeper shore (Georgia side)will reveal the more usual water line for late summer through mid-fall. The flatter, rocky side (SC side) also shows the lower water level. The grass tussocks are usually in water. These pics are from just above the swimming hole.

Some new friends...


Warpaint! Even though the last pic is horrible for clarity, it's the only one that hints at the paradoxical brilliance of its subtle blue/purple/silver hues when it left the water.




The Longnosed Dace in these parts have beautiful orange color all year round, not just in the fall.


Always love to find me some sculpins!


Help me out on this guy, please. The same fish but it looks all chub in one photo and all dace in the other...


Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#2 Casper

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

Posted 28 November 2016 - 11:14 AM

The drought is due for a nice relief over the next few days.  I have been in the Chattooga several times, there is a nice snorkel hole it get respite in from my long drive to the Oconee State Park.  Good day to enjoy the Holidays.  Warpaints are spreading.  You will see more and more as the years pass.

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

#3 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 29 November 2016 - 08:52 AM

That's awesome Matt!  That swimmin' hole looks pretty fishy.  What types of teleost predators patrol that hole?

Kevin Wilson

#4 Dustin

  • Forum Staff

Posted 29 November 2016 - 09:25 AM

There are smallmouth and brown and rainbow trout in there.

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

#5 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 29 November 2016 - 09:35 AM

is the chubbish one a stoneroller?

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

#6 Dustin

  • Forum Staff

Posted 29 November 2016 - 09:53 AM

is the chubbish one a stoneroller?


That's where I was leaning too Gerald.  Just not completely sure.  

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

#7 sbtgrfan

  • NANFA Member
  • Charleston, SC

Posted 29 November 2016 - 10:55 AM

I was at the game, so you're welcome for the traffic. And yeah, they close the CEF to vehicles during the winter months I believe. 


Where on the Chattooga were you? Every time we go up to collect, we only get a few species...Whitetails, warpaints, mirrors & tennessee shiners, along with some hogsuckers. Never gotten sculpin, turquoise, or dace up there. Interesting. 


The unknowns look like the dace to me. But I'm likely wrong. 

Stephen Beaman
Freshwater Aquarist
South Carolina Aquarium
Charleston, SC

#8 mattknepley

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

Posted 29 November 2016 - 09:39 PM

Thanks guys. I actually started thinking stoneroller, too, but just can't make myself see it anymore than the other guesses I had. You probably know this spot well, Stephen. It's a very short trip up river from the bridge at Burrells Ford, in the pool where that tiny stream on the GA side "waterfalls" in. Might actually be your snorkel spot, Casper, because at full pool it's inviting deep and fishy. The first stonerollers I ever saw were a school of them grazing their way upstream, just out of dipnet/seine reach. After my snorkeling in MO this past summer, I look forward to trying it out in this hole. The differences in species we've seen is funny, too, Stephen. I've only seen a couple whitetails, and no mirrors or Tennessees. Don't remember hogsuckers either. The sculpins are new to me this year. I'm guessing some of my yoy yellowfins are actually something else as that is pretty big water for them. Still, they sure looked like chlorophlox to me. The dace like very shallow riffles there; the turquoises and sculpin range a little deeper, but not much, in my limited experience. Have yet to have the pleasure of tangling with a smalllie up there, but have caught a few stockie 'bows. I don't know if you're still looking for Warpaints, Dustin, but if you are I'd be up for helping you chase 'em again.
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

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