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Flat (?) Bullhead and Benthic Buddies


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#1 mattknepley

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

Posted 05 February 2017 - 10:35 PM

Went to a favorite spot of mine, the Little River at Calhoun Mill in McCormick County. I have become fairly certain that darters migrate around/through their streams quite a bit, and today's visit reinforced that idea. This location has a stretch I like that has three different microhabitats in it. On the east is a shallow side channel, it is shaded, and gets its water in part from a deeper part of the pond above the dam. Consequently the water is often noticeably cooler here than in the main channel, which though much deeper, gets its water from the upper pond waters which come over the spillway. Farthest west in the stream are proper shoals, which the water courses or meanders through, depending on water level. There was dormant aquatic and emergent vegetation in all three areas, but the highest amount of it was in the interface of the shoal and main channel areas. Today most fish were found in the shoal/main channel border. The largest darters were in faster water, but most were in the aforementioned zone.

The site. This is the main channel and the shoals. I could probably add a fourth microclimate, the main channel has a shoulder (in the picture's foreground) that is a warmer, deeper version of the side channel, really. (Side channel not seen in this shot.)

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The biggest Christmas Darter of the day. He was in fast water, unlike the rest of the Etheostoma hopkinsi I caught (females and smaller males) who were in the slower, comparatively warmer shoal area.

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Caught the cutest bullhead. Based on barbel colors, I'm going with Flat Bullhead and not Snail. Like the big darter above, he came from fast water in the main channel.

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The Turquoise Darters are coloring up nicely. Caught a couple males and a female.

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Have netted a couple large Northern Hogsuckers here, usually in the eastern side channel. This modest guy was in one of the deeper pools in the shoal area instead.

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There were a couple Tessellated Darters in the mix, several Percina nigrofasciata, a juvie Bluehead Chub, a single Yellowfin Shiner and a few Cyprinella nivea.

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A couple swipes above the dam turned up a few juvie Lepomis of some type and a couple tiny gambusia.

It was a good day, even better because Erin accompanied me on this trip, too. I'm a happy daddy!
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#2 taldridge0321

taldridge0321
  • NANFA Member
  • Catawba Watershed, Waxhaw, North Carolina

Posted 06 February 2017 - 01:35 AM

Nice job Matt, I'm jealous of the Christmas Darters!



#3 taldridge0321

taldridge0321
  • NANFA Member
  • Catawba Watershed, Waxhaw, North Carolina

Posted 06 February 2017 - 04:43 AM

Hope you don't mind me posting two pics, but it may help you out with your Bullhead id. Here is a Snail Bullhead and the next will be a Flat, they should be around the same size as yours. Snail+Bullhead.JPG



#4 taldridge0321

taldridge0321
  • NANFA Member
  • Catawba Watershed, Waxhaw, North Carolina

Posted 06 February 2017 - 04:43 AM

Flat Bullhead.Flat+Bullhead.JPG



#5 MtFallsTodd

MtFallsTodd
  • NANFA Member
  • Mountain Falls, Virginia

Posted 06 February 2017 - 08:19 AM

WOW, the Christmas darters are awesome.


Deep in the hills of Great North Mountain

#6 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 06 February 2017 - 08:49 AM

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

#7 gerald

gerald
  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:16 AM

If the pond has a bottom outlet and a surface spillway, in freezing weather the part of the stream receiving the bottom water may be WARMER than the part receiving the surface water.  That might be a cause for some of the localized fish migration you're seeing. 

 

Not sure about that Cyprinella being C.nivea; what other Cyp's might be in that watershed?

 

Water-Ice Density-Temp Graph.jpg


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


#8 Casper

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

Posted 06 February 2017 - 01:51 PM

Always a good day to splash about especially with your daughter in tow.  Saturday was wonderful here... an early Spring predicted.


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

#9 Chasmodes

Chasmodes
  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 06 February 2017 - 03:21 PM

Terrific report Matt.  Sounds like a great day for sure!

 

It was a good day, even better because Erin accompanied me on this trip, too. I'm a happy daddy!

 

Awesome!  My daughter has gone with me on a couple "nature" trips, exploring creeks and stuff.  She's 24 now, and not that long ago was helping me get pictures of rainbow darters and other local creek denizens.  That was a great day too.  During most of her youth, I took her shark tooth collecting, and in many cases, they turned out to be sort of nature trips too.

 

I'm rambling a bit, but basically, even when they get a bit older, they're still great daddy days!   :D/


Kevin Wilson


#10 mattknepley

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

Posted 08 February 2017 - 06:11 PM

Thanks, all.

Todd, they sure are; that's why they're one of my most very favorite fish.

Tim, that's one of the Christmas Darter spots I told you about.

Casper and Kevin; I hope we all have plenty more daddy-daughter days in our futures!

Michael, you're my go-to guy for Cyprinella leedsi; any chance that Cyp is really a leedsi and not a nivea? (See below...)

Gerald, I never thought about water being warmer coming off the bottom. Great observation. It wasn't until last summer that it hit home just how much cooler the shallow water could be that time of year. I had got there in the afternoon, and skipped over the side channel figuring it'd be too warm. I worked the shoals and main channel and "shoulder" areas pretty thoroughly for probably a couple hours. (Funny how time gets away in the stream...) Found zilch in those areas, but when I tried the side channel, it was slap full of Christmas and Blackbanded Darters. (No other fish I remember, though.) Next time I'm there in the freezing winter weather I will definitely keep this idea in mind while searching. As for the Cyps, I'm curious what you're thinking. This stream flows into the Savannah River above the Fall Line. According to Fritz's book, there's only one other real possibility, C. leedsi. But leedsi aren't shown having been collected that far upriver. I think our only other Savannah River basin Cyp in SC is galactura, way up in the head waters. The fin colors don't quite seem right for nivea, do they? And they do seem to match the description of leedsi fins a little better. Who knows? Guess I'll have to pour over the other 27,000 pictures I took of that fish to try to figure it out.
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#11 gerald

gerald
  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 08 February 2017 - 09:11 PM

I've never seen leedsi, but the head shape doesn't look like Cape Fear & PeeDee nivea that I'm used to seeing. The mouth angle looks too steep, more like chloristia or pyrrhomelas.  The nivea I know have a more horizontal mouth.


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


#12 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 08 February 2017 - 09:36 PM

I dont see it as C. leedsi the caudal peduncle looks too thick and I dont like that tail spot... but now you are going to make me look stuff up in books.


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



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