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Proctor Creek - Downtown Atlanta

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#1 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 23 June 2019 - 08:19 PM

I thought some of y'all might be interested in the field trip that we had on Saturday June 22, 2019 at Grove Point in Proctor Creek inside the perimeter in Atlanta.

We met at about 10:00 am and briefed the participants on the basics of fish identification and provided some checklists and such.  We had a variety of agencies represented including folks from the City of Atlanta.  We also had a number of local citizens.  We started with maybe 15 people.

The water was very clear and mostly only about calf deep, except for a few deeper pools.  The water was not that cold, but I did not take a measurement.  The substrate was covered with algae growth and seemed dark until we disturbed it as we kicked into the seine.
Proctor Creek.jpg
I was surprised by the shear number of fish.  Fish were abundant with at least two seine hauls that totaled over 50 fish each.  Had we targeted that habitat it would have been even more, but we were looking for diversity, not quantity.
  • Gambusia - We saw 100s of these as we first approached the stream, including some truly huge females and the largest male that I have ever personally seen.  We did not target this species or their habitat, but they were very abundant.
  • White Sucker - These were fairly common in the 2-4 inch range.  Most still had their juvenile "three spot" markings.  We saw no large individuals, but that may have been due to our technique and number of people stomping around.
  • Alabama Hogsucker - These were also fairly common, but at a smaller size.  Lots of 1 inch individuals and only a few that were in the 3-4 inch range.
  • Yellow Bullhead Catfish - Only caught one individual while stomping woody debris.  Had him in the photo tank and could clearly see that he was not a snail bullhead and could also clearly see the white lower barbels.  He was very dark, no doubt to match the substrate.
  • Golden Shiner - I only positively identified one individual that was about 1 inch long, but the anal fin and lack of much other color was pretty distinctive.  There were no doubt other individuals mixed in but they were not the dominant species.
  • Bluefin Stoneroller - This was the dominant species.  There were literally hundreds.  We saw large herds, grazing the algae covered substrate in groups of 20-30 individuals.  And they were in all kinds of smaller sizes.  We did not see any terminal males or any individual over 4 inches.  But we saw lots and lots 1 inch individuals and tons of 2-3 inch fish.
  • Red Shiner - Breeding colors and tuberculate males were readily apparent.  Again, we saw easily over 100 individuals of this species during the few hours we seined, and again we were not targeting them, just looking for diversity.  In some cases, just walking the stream you could look down in the water and see 20 fish go by and 5 or 6 of them would be sky blue and purple.  We had a hard time with humidity affecting our pictures, so they are not the best, but even still you can clearly see the tuberculed nose on the individual in the photo.red shineer.jpg
  • White Crappie - We only caught the one 4 inch individual, but we were very excited, as I did not see this species listed in any of the previous reports.  This was in the pool complex below the waterfall.  Again, we had inexperienced seine handlers and only really made one pass through the pool, so there should be more there (hopefully exercising their piscivorous ways on red shiners).crappie.jpg
  • Bluegill Sunfish - We caught a half dozen or so in the 4 inch range in the pools below the falls.  They were nicely colored up and healthy looking.
  • Redbreast Sunfish - We saw fewer of these than Bluegill, and none were fired up as I have seem larger males, but they were nice looking.  We had seen one perfectly formed sunfish nest close to where we entered the creek, but it was empty (no one defending).  We also saw some "fit on your thumbnail" sized individuals in the weeds, but I cannot identify anything at that size other than just "sunfish".
  • Blackbanded Darter - We got three of three different sizes in the first seine haul through a fast running channel.  The largest was normal non-spawning size maybe four inches max.  The next was only 3 and the third small... maybe only an inch and a half.  We saw several more as by catch in other seine hauls.  We could have likely gotten a couple dozen if we had stayed in their habitat, but we were all over the place with the public participants.blackbanded.jpg
I was very surprised at the quantity of fish and the clarity of the water.  My understanding was that it was "chocolate milk" earlier this week.  We saw very few invertebrates and no crayfish, but the fish all seemed healthy and those Blackbanded had to be eating something.


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

#2 Doug_Dame

  • NANFA Member

Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:18 AM

[vainly looks for the Like Button. Yet again.]

Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida

#3 Casper

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

Posted 24 June 2019 - 08:52 AM

Sounds like a potential urban snorkel in downtown Atlanta.

Excellent report.

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

#4 JasonL

  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 24 June 2019 - 10:16 AM

What a beautiful stream in an urban setting. Good stuff.

#5 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:39 AM

That might be a pale black crappie: 7 dorsal spines.

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

#6 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:59 AM

That might be a pale black crappie: 7 dorsal spines.

Thanks Gerald, never even thought to do a proper ID. Thats what they say happens when we assume.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#7 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:12 AM

Nice report Michael!  Pretty good diversity for an urban setting.

Kevin Wilson

#8 mattknepley

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

Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:11 PM

Wow!  I knew you were optimistic about this crick, glad it panned out so beautifully.  What's next for this little water way?


You do a kick-butt job for NANFA, Michael.  Thank you!

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

#9 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:02 PM

Well the one person with us was Kelly, who is @Peachstatefish on Instagram (you may have seen her or follow her or you maybe should) and she recently got a job with the city of Atlanta to do "fisheries stuff".  Proctor Creek is a direct tributary of the Chattahoochee and she says it is the only watershed that completely within the city limits of the ATL.  She was very surprised and pleased with all the fish we saw and wants to do more to support the creek.  So maybe she will get more support for more rehabilitation and clean up.

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

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