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Cherokee National Forest Snorkel Trips 2016


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#1 Casper

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

Posted 02 January 2017 - 04:06 PM

Cherokee National Forest Snorkel Trips 2016
 
June 18 with the Georgia Conservancy Group.
 
First session of the year.  It was nice seeing the Conasauga again after a long Winter and having Ed, Jeremy and Dave along was a bonus.  And the Georgia Folks are a motivated, interested, eager group of participants.  Afterwards Ed and i camped quiet under a full moon as the whipperwill called throughout the night.
 
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Early Morning.  Clear Water.  Eager Georgia Conservancy Members.
 
 
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Lifeguard Amanda.  Looking upriver beyond the riffle run.
 
 
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The Robin bites hard.
 
 
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He means business, so you best beware.
 
 
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Tuberculed Alabama Shiner.  Kings here in Tennessee.
 
 
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Another Holiday awaits.
 
 
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Arrived for a weekend visit from a place far away.  I forgot to ask them where exactly they were from, who they represented and how the air was here.
 
 
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The Freshwater Boys.
 
 
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Lazy Ed.

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

#2 fritz

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 05:14 PM

Is he breathing?



#3 don212

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 06:06 PM

love the alien pick, did you get a review or a try out of their headgear



#4 Casper

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

Posted 04 January 2017 - 03:18 PM

I think everyone is holding their breath at the camera snap moment but unsure of these 2 aliens as i am about their headgear.  I have seen the multitudes of video ads featuring bikini girls wearing Snookis and though they are appealing i think these new fangled masks would have issues.  I am quite content with my mask, especially that i have "reader glasses" full lens installed.

 

I am creating and sharing these CNF accounts to break the doldrums of Winter.

 

All my 2016 images were shot with a Olympus TG-810, which is of 2011 technology.  I have gleaned, resized and cropped the many photos to only the few that best recount the day.  For the 2017 season i am planning to upgrade to a Olympus TG-4 which is suppose to provide better images in medium and low light conditions, those conditions that are typical to shadowed snorkeling.  But for now...


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

#5 Casper

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

Posted 04 January 2017 - 03:22 PM

June 19, Day 2 with the Georgia Conservancy Group
 
A second group of Georgia Conservationists, just as eager as the first to spend the day experiencing what a protected watershed offers.
 
 
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Group 2 lectured regarding safety concerns.  Not much to worry about here.  Maybe bears.
 
 
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Lemon yellow fins on a fine Blue Shiner.  They prefer the quiet flow areas and are often seen along the "Beach Front".
 
 
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Handsome Fella, they are so very well marked.
 
 
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2 daze trio, sans Mr. Ed.
 
 
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Dave Neely's CFI artwork recycled into a nifty new shirt.
 
 
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2016 refreshed NANFA Graffiti.
 

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

#6 Chasmodes

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 03:41 PM

Excellent!


Kevin Wilson


#7 Casper

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

Posted 09 January 2017 - 12:20 PM

July 20, Hiwassee Blue Way
 
My first CNF trip of the year to the Hiwassee, an underwaterworld of different fish.  Always clear but seemingly of late too much green hair algae covering the lush moss on the stones.  I suspect a high nutrient load from above.
 
10-Group.JPG
 
The early morning folk before the day's flood release.  You better be out when the warnings tell you.  Don't linger, stay alert.  A louder rush, floating debris, visibility rapidly reducing, folks yelling, water rising, kids tumbling downstream.
 
 
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An eager trio of Snorkel Boys.
 
 
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A fresh caught Mama Crayfish with Berries.
 
 
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Walleyed Surprise.
 
 
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Sure to send your blood sugar high, and i can assure you those Peanut Butter Creme Pies are a tasty and effective way to do so.  This lady works for Little Debbie and most of today's snorkelers were associated with the snack cake factory.  We had a nice lunch break in the sunshine.
 
 
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Devil Dog, surprised midday wandering upstream in the shallows.
 
 
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Caught a little devil, passed him around in a mask for all to see.
 
 
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Team 2, the Snot Otter Gang, just before the water raged high and fast.  Time to move to Spring Creek.

Edited by Casper, 09 January 2017 - 12:25 PM.

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

#8 fundulus

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:29 AM

You're right about aerial deposition of nutrients like phosphates and nitrates. I have recent numbers for subregions within the middle Tennessee drainage and there's a LOT more of it coming down than most people would believe.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#9 Casper

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

Posted 11 January 2017 - 12:35 PM

Bruce... what does "aerial deposition of nutrients" mean?

Like dropped from the air, carried by the wind?  I would find that odd... transported by air.  I figured the nutrients were coming from farming, cattle, random septic systems, golf course and yard fertilization.  There is plenty of man active land uses adjacent to the Hiwassee and its many tribs upstream.

It is disheartening visually because at one time i considered the Hiwassee one of the prettiest substrates.  Lots of lush plants and mostly the lush carpeting of the dense River Weed... a mossy textured rock covering sometimes 2 or 3" thick.  When it is covered by snagged hair algae it is unsightly and i presume starved for sunlight.  Hair Algae and green water is a symptom of too much "nutrients", whatever the source.


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

#10 don212

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:42 PM

what''s with the walleye? thought they only moved up streams during spring spawning



#11 Casper

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

Posted 11 January 2017 - 04:17 PM

July 20th.  The Hiwassee is somewhat artificial as the releases are based upon power generation and recreation.  The water temps can make major swings due to lake turnover.  Oddly it can be bone chilling in the Summer and warmish in October.  I do not understand why... something about water weight at certain degrees and thus "turning over".  Anyway with these temperature swings you can see a lot of breeding behaviors at odd times.  That same day i saw 2, perhaps Walleyes, maybe odd colored bass, doing some wild biting nipping chasing siding breeding behavior but being with the Little Debbie people i could not focus and observe at length.

Snorkeling always yields surprises.


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

#12 fundulus

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 08:48 PM

"Aerial deposition" basically means, falling from the sky as a kind of dust particle. It's always been around, lichens for instance depend on the process for nutrients, but human activities have hugely increased it in many areas.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#13 Casper

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

Posted 16 January 2017 - 01:11 PM

Conasauga River New Hope for 7th Graders  August 16.
 
I have yet to experience the Conasauga River Snorkel Hole so low.  The Eton gauge average at this time of year is 100, today was 40.  We are 12.5" low for the annual rainfall here in Chattanooga and i suspect similiar in the Conasauga watershed.  A bonus is the low water level offers shallowed deep water enhanced viewing and the big fish are packed in tight.  One can dive down and be eye to eye with the calmer species.  No breeding colors colors but i did see one Tricolor sporting color.
 
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River Red Horse Head.
I was able to dive down, hold onto a stone and gently, single finger stroke the Horsehead's length.  3 boys did the same and earned the "Mark of the River Red" drawn down their own forehead.
 
 
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Blood red tail.  Beautiful color.
 
 
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Closer.
 
 
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Out of the shadows.
Several Rock Bass cousins were out and angled down doing a weird body twitch motion.  Each allowed a very close approach.  Curious behavior as they are often very secretive.
 
 
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Gapping wound.
Amanda found a discarded gnarly treble hook on the beach, may the without concern owner find them in their beds and dark bathroom floors.  Legal in Tennessee, snagging, several of the Drum carried marks from the manly sport.
I am surprised how well this Drum swam but the wound is only a few days old.  Curious if and how it will heal.
 
 
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20 Boys and 20 Girls.  7th graders... curious, spontaneous, scattered wide.  They are a joy and a challenge.
 
 
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Lifeguard and Blue Skies.  A perfect day it was to be.  I had considered camping but a potential sweltering night was not desired.
 
 
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Mutant Tadpole.
During the morning Amanda and i spotted hordes of tadpoles at the bank's edge on sand, stones and wood.  Freshly legged and hopping between the world of water and land.  August is the morph month evidently.  This tadpole was having trouble making the transition.
 
 
 
 

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

#14 Isaac Szabo

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 01:24 PM

Nice reports and photos. I don't have much to add except to say that I'm enjoying seeing these - especially in the downtime of winter.



#15 Chasmodes

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Posted 20 January 2017 - 10:02 PM

Very cool pics and report!


Kevin Wilson


#16 mattknepley

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Posted 22 January 2017 - 08:37 AM

Great snorkel posts as always, Casper. One concern with the Little Debbie crowd though; where were the Swiss Rolls? They shoulda been right there with all the other products. Methinks you had a thief or a hoarder afoot. If I'd've been there, I'd accuse myself...
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#17 Casper

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

Posted 23 January 2017 - 08:00 PM

Conasauga River New Hope for 7th Graders  August 17.
 
A 2nd batch of 7th graders, eager after the previous day's stories had been shared by their classmates.
 
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20 plus Boys, Team 2.
Team 1 was a mix of girls and boys and i never stood a chance in that social chaos.  Though at the end of Team 1, 3 boys having acquired the "Mark of the River Red" and thus seeing, every member of team 2 was eager for the same.  Eventually catching a pollywog, seeing a stone flipper, touching a snapper's shell would all earn a mark, some multiples.  That was one group of motivated boys!  " Can i get 3 marks?" "How many marks do i get Mr. Casper?"  "What is the most marks you have ever given Mr. Fish?".  46.
 
 
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1.5 hour drive back to school.  Maybe 2 hours as the bus runs slow on gravel pot holed roads and rickity woodplanked bridges.  This is a regular school group to the Conasauga and for young students, where better to be?
 
 
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Mystery Fish.
I saw it, took a mental photo and rendered it quick with found minerals.

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

#18 Casper

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

Posted 31 January 2017 - 11:25 AM

Conasauga River Saturday, August 20.
 
We had a group scheduled, "Keeping it Wild" from ATL but they did not show up.  The Snorkel Boss was going to be my Lifeguard for the day and expecting 35 snorkelers he had brought along every wetsuit we had and together we laid them out wide on the ground  tarp along with setting up all the other assorted gear, tents, tubs and snooks.  Then we waited.  And waited.  Finally at Noon he called it off and disappointed we reloaded all the gear.  
But after Jim left, i took full advantage of being in the here and now.
The afternoon before the Eton guage had reported 1.5" of rainfall.  When i crossed over the Conasauga that morning i noted it was about 25% murky, then crossing the Jacks it was nearly 100% clear.  The 2 rivers join about 300 yards upstream of the snorkel hole and here visibility had been reduced to about 6' max, worse on the far side's deep channel.  Lots of particals were suspended in the flow greatly reducing visibility in the deep stretches for the mega species.  The most disappointing was that EVERYTHING was covered in about 1/4" of brown silt.  We discussed the potential cause but whatever it was, it was disappointing, unappealing, ugly.  I suspect there is disturbance of the ground in the Conasauga watershed.  When the substrate and boulders are exposed they are quite beautiful and even colorful.  But a silty brown is just plain ugly.  We discussed the possible use of a leaf blower to clean everything in advance of snorkeling visitors, yet there are two things to resolve.   Being... how long should the extension cord should be and how much additional USFS time is needed.
If it was not for the playful human activity in the Snorkel Hole i am not sure how long the silt would lay.  However between the folks kicking and splashing and the Black Suckers rock popping these activities washes the silt down to the next slack water area and where it settles out.  I will be back in about 10 days so it will be interesting to see if the hoped for change occurs.  Only about 5 days before i had been here and much of the gravel was clean and pretty, with most of the stones exposed.
An updated google sky view might reveal the disturbed ground culprit but from my experience no one will be held accountable.
 
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To make the most of the low visibility i stayed up in the riffle runs, cleared an area and watched the Bronze Darters come in, hunting the freshly exposed substrate.  These are the most common of the Darters here, and the most handsome.
 
 
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I found a few Hellgrammites here and love the intricate pattern found on their topside.  Always a good sign.
 
 
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A few more snails than normal were seen, with a blurred Alabama Shiner beyond.  I think the temps are cooling after the Summer highs and the Bamas are rejoicing, several males displaying full finage though their colors muted.  Today's morning temperature was air... 75, water... 75.  On my last trip the water rose from 75 in the morning to 85 degrees by the end of the day, measuring the same spot, knee deep, in the current's flow.  A 10 degree increase on a sunshine day, the most i have ever recorded.  It shows the power of the sun.
 
 
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Sculpin, Mottled likely.
 
 
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Tennessee's state wildflower is the Purple Passion Flower AKA the Maypop.  It's getting pollinated here by a foraging riverside Bumble Bee.
 
 
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This is what the flowers develop into, also called a Maypop or Passion Fruit.  Interestingly the Cherokee name for the fruit is Ocoee, which also happens to be the name of the river to the north.  The ripe fruit is delicious and many hung from a vine close to the Conasauga's edge.  I ate a green one with satisfaction but they will ripen and yellow in a few more weeks, increasing their flavor.
 
The day was not lost with the non-arrival of the scheduled group, as at about 1:30 a group of scouts arrived with masks and googles in hand.  They had been camping up at Jacks River the night before and stopped here to cool before heading back to Atlanta.  I ended up spending about 2 hours with them in the shallow runs showing the Scouts Hogsuckers, Shiners, Darters and stone flipping Logperch.  I was satisfied.
 
 

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

#19 Chasmodes

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 01:26 PM

Great report Casper and some beautiful pics!


Kevin Wilson


#20 Casper

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

Posted 06 February 2017 - 04:52 PM

August 28 with the Southern Adventist University Biology Students.
 
This was another fine group, attentive students from around the world of all ethnicities.  74 degree water & air, a blue sky Sunday.  There were over 30 so we broke them into 2 groups of about 20 each giving some of the more inclined students an option to go twice.
 
10-Group.JPG
 
I count 29.  Maybe some still in the changing tents, the 3 professors standing to my side.
 
 
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Grazing Stonerollers.  Note the mottled pattern on the stone, a result of their grazing.
 
 
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Lone Riffle Minnow, an uncommon sight at the snorkel hole.  More common downstream at 411, usually grazing in small groups.
 
 
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Handsome Bronze Darter.
 
 
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Deep Rooting Hog.
 
 
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The tactile business end of the Hogsucker.
 
 
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Hog and Log.  The Logperch at the Snorkel Hole often seem to be very wary.  I could never get a close photo of this individual until he found comfort next to this active Hogsucker.
 
 
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NANFA, Skullduggary, Indian Pigment & Panda.
 
 
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Picked a few Paw Paws. Put them in a bowl.
 
 
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Collage of Stoneroller's mottled grazing pattern on smooth algaed stones.  Vegetarians.
 
 
 
 

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



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