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TN River Rescue 2019


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#1 Casper

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

Posted 29 July 2019 - 09:44 AM

North Chickamauga Creek
July 27 & 28, 2019
 
I thought i would get a preview for this year and returned to the 2017 & 2018 Tennessee River Rescue site this weekend.  It has been hot and dry for most of the Summer, though we recently have had some cool nights, lowering the water temperature.  After about 3 hours each day i was shivering cold without my wetsuit.  Water level was low, cool and fairly clear being much of the creek's flow is spring fed.
I was in the creek about 2 months ago with Rob and gathered a few piles of trash.  They were still intact as no big rains have come through dispersing them.
 
 
30-Downstream.JPG
 
Getting in and looking downstream.  Several log snags are located between here and the bridge and old mill site about a 1/4 mile downstream.
 
 
31-Trio.JPG
 
The first fish i saw was a Yellow Perch.  A nice see as they only like cool, springfed waters in this region.  As i was gathering trash i noticed a couple Dusky Darters peering out at me from an underside of woody debris, their favored habitat.  I also noted many, many juvenile Logperch.  This seems to be prime Logperch habitat with all the cobble though vast stretches are silted up sand mounds, runs and banks.  Other Darters noted, in order of commonality, were Tennessee Snubnoses, Bluesides, Greensides and Redlines.  I have seen Banded, Rainbows and Fantails as well.
There were quite a few large River Chub Mounds dusted over with silt.  I have yet to encounter an active River Chub occupied mound here.  I need to make a point of visiting next Spring.
Hogsuckers, Sunfish, Sculpins, Warpaints were also noted but i was mostly focused on trash these 2 days.
 
 
32-MudPuppyLong.JPG
 
My first big surprise here in sometime... A Mudpuppy.  A friend and i encountered one several miles upstream years ago while hunting for Hellbenders.  DNA water samples have alleged they are here, somewhere, but have yet to be documented, at least to the general public.  In addition to the many springs the creek cascades off the plateau where coal mine stripping was very active years ago.  Perhaps some small tributary holds a refuge of sorts.
 
 
33-MudPuppy.JPG
 
Note the feathery gills.
 
 
34-Bass.JPG
 
Bass began to follow me as i dislodged tires and debris.  This particular fellow was quite persistent and would nearly allow me to touch him.  Red eye, about a foot long.  Is this a Spotted Bass?  I do not know my Bass well and am often confused.
 
 
35-Glass.JPG
 
i gathered up about 2 bags of cans, glass shards, beer bottles and plastics, pulled one bag up high on the bank and left another submerged with a bunch of tires for later retrieval, hopefully with the help of trash monger friends.  Last October we pulled 19 tires from the creek and i count about 2 dozen more we can get with effort.
I saved the more interesting relic glass.  At first i thought this was some kind of laboratory glass but maybe it's just a vase.
:)
 
Leeches are not a common experience but between my fingers i began to itch.  Looking at my hands i saw a scattering of 1/8" long leeches working gaps and fingernail cracks.  I'm still itching as i type!

Edited by Casper, 29 July 2019 - 09:45 AM.

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

#2 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 30 July 2019 - 07:24 AM

You should have cruised back towards those loggies, I bet they would have happily taken care of those bitty leeches for you.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 30 July 2019 - 09:18 AM

I'll take average leeches over tiny hard to find leeches any day.

 

So if there is hellbender DNA, there must be hellbenders. I Wonder if juveniles use headwater streams as nursery areas? Do you guys see adult hellbenders in other headwater streams?


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#4 Casper

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

Posted 30 July 2019 - 02:00 PM

Still itching today, but diminishing, 48 hours later.

 

Hellbenders have nesting rocks and in my experience the juveniles ( 2" ) stay in the immediate area.  They will eat one another and i suspect slowly radiate / advance outward.  They do not migrate to a nursery site.

 

I have been hearing debates on the DNA water samples on just how reliable it is.

 

I'm hoping to return this weekend as the weather promises to be ideal.


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

#5 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 30 July 2019 - 05:04 PM

So do you see them in streams any smaller than the one pictured? I have seen them in the Clinch and the Davidson. Davidson is fairly small where I have seen them. Wondering what the cutoff is. What is too small?? I wish they were more local to me.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#6 Casper

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

Posted 30 July 2019 - 05:24 PM

Hellbenders...

I'm not so sure stream size / width matters.  Most important is water quality, habitat, food supply of crayfish, big flat rocks to hide under, and minimal siltation.

I have seen them in big, wide waters like the Hiwassee, smaller rivers like the Tellico and many very narrow, little streams you can easily wade across.


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

#7 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 30 July 2019 - 05:53 PM

 I really had never thought about them being in such small streams. That's really cool. If the high quality small stream lacks the right size flat rocks, look elsewhere.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#8 Casper

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

Posted 31 July 2019 - 12:01 PM

They need those flat rocks for sure.  And crayfish.  I have seen them many times in small streams, meaning about 15' wide.


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

#9 Casper

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

Posted 05 August 2019 - 12:01 PM

Back into the creek Saturday.  Forgetting my swim shorts and ragged shirt i was forced to wear my wetsuit.

That was a good thing as my comfort level was much more to my liking during the 4 or 5 hours.

I picked up another 3 bags of trash and flushed about 10 tires and perched them in logjams.  I will surely need help come the TRR October 5 Saturday.

Several sunfish nests, some with fry.  Big Yellow Perch.  More River Chubs.  Added a pod of Creek Chubs.  The Darters aplenty.  Mr. Bass following me.

 

 

30-Turtle1.JPG

 

I'm not sure what kinda turtle this is.  Its face is marked different to me.

 

 

30-Turtle2.JPG

 

This is likely a Yellow-Bellied Pond Slider.

 

 

30-SculpinPurse.JPG

 

Old plastic pouch with an evicted resident.

 

 

30-Bass.JPG

 

The ever present Bass.

 

 

30-Trash.JPG

 

Old relic bottles.  Many cans are the old pull tab variety.

 

 

 


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

#10 Chasmodes

Chasmodes
  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 08 August 2019 - 08:53 AM

Very cool.  Looking forward to your next visit/report.  I bet there are relic hunters that would like some of those bottles.


Kevin Wilson


#11 Casper

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

Posted 12 August 2019 - 03:19 PM

30-BattleCray.JPG

 

This Saturday, less than 2 months til the 2019 October 5 TRR, a new snorkel buddy and i eased off the steep banks into the cool North Chick Creek as several Gar approached, welcoming us.  This time we started downstream near the mill and bridge, working our way upstream a hundred yards or more.

 

Throwing an old pool pump on the bank, a Lamprey slithered out, a new first for this stretch.  Again Bass stayed with us looking for opportunities to snatch anything exposed.  Turning over an old rusty rim 3 Bass swooped in quick to grab one of the biggest crays i have ever seen here.  With his pinchers fully extended he fended off a few grabs and the wary Bass backed off.  Like wolves they moved in again but i waved them away.  After a few photos i cleaned off the rim and as i was preparing to position it, in they moved, grabbing the cray by the claws, its only defense.  Had they pulled off the claws he would have been an easy meal.  I was finally able to settle the rim over the big cray.  It's a rough life out there.

 

31-CrayTrashClose.JPG

 

Just downstream i found this dead cray or perhaps a molt of about the same size.

 

 

32-SkyBottles.JPG

 

Will held these bottles up to the light.  We filled a couple bags and dislodged several tires in about 3 hours.

 

 

33-Nest.JPG

 

Silt seems more common than last year.  I remember many lush, green, stands of millfoil but now everything seems covered with a layer of floamy silt.

Except for this finely manicured Redbreast nest.  No eggs, nor fry seen and the male wary from afar.

 

 

34-Abstract.JPG

 

An interesting odd abstract.  My TG4 continues to yield blurry pictures for the most part.  Arg.

:(

 

 

 


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

#12 Josh Blaylock

Josh Blaylock
  • Board of Directors
  • Central Kentucky

Posted 16 August 2019 - 06:52 AM

Casper, you should start keeping some of those bottles and looking them up.  I collect Pepsi bottles and I'm plugged into the bottle collectors scene.  Some bottles are worth a bit of money.


Josh Blaylock - Central KY
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#13 Casper

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

Posted 16 August 2019 - 01:31 PM

I keep the interesting ones.  But they are dirty inside and out and difficult to clean.  And they are often scuff scratched from tumbling in the creek.

Nonetheless i keep the interesting ones.  I have found a couple old Pepsi's.  Maybe i can remember to bring them to you in SC.

What is your best source for looking up bottles?


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

#14 mattknepley

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

Posted 17 August 2019 - 06:48 AM

Great report, and a most worthy endeavor, good sir!

 

Josh ain't foolin', either.  We hit a spot in MS that must have been a dumping ground for glass bottles at some point.  Between Cyprinella sweeps he was pulling up bottle fragments and could tell ya all kinds of things about it.  Pretty interesting stuff, Josh ought to be an archaeology professor.  Move over Indiana Jones, Kentucky Blaylock is about to school ya.


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

#15 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 17 August 2019 - 07:59 AM

Now that's funny. Hmm....


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#16 Fleendar the Magnificent

Fleendar the Magnificent
  • NANFA Member
  • Ohio

Posted 18 August 2019 - 02:20 PM

Do you ever run across any insulators while diving in these rivers?



#17 Casper

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

Posted 19 August 2019 - 10:33 AM

Do you ever run across any insulators while diving in these rivers?

 

Yes.  I have a small collection of them.  Find them often enough creek walking and mushroom hunting.  The broken ones are in the cement pond.  The nice ones on window sills.  A friend is a member of the Dixie Jewels Insulator Club.


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

#18 Casper

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

Posted 03 September 2019 - 11:37 AM

Sunday, September 2.

 

Will and i spent a few hours at North Chickamauga Creek, mostly simply observing the fish today.  Though the day was bright and blue skied the water was murky from a rain event about 5 days prior, limiting good viewing to about 4 or 5 feet.  We stayed in a new zone, just below and above the bridge and mill site.  We saw a good diversity of fishes and the best viewing were in the shallow riffles right at the bridge.  High colors are absent but the fish seemed to be enjoying the season and day.

I started to gather glass shards and assorted trash into piles, and after Will chilled he bagged them while i continued gathering.  After about 4 hours Will had enough of the cold and left while i stayed another couple hours working my way upstream.  Again the big Bass stayed with me as i turned and dumped bottles and cans.  In a deeper pool, say 6', i observed these Bass, a Gar, 2 Yellow Perch and unknown big Suckers.

Sunfish: Redear, Longear, Bluegill, Redbreast.

Shiners: Striped and Warpaints and something loner i could not decide on.

Minnows: River Chubs, Stonerollers, and probably a school of Bluntnose in a lush plant run.

Darters: TN Snubs, Bluesides, Redlines, Greenside, Banded, and lots and lots of Logperch.  They really do well.

Sculpins, Hogsuckers...

 

P9010009.JPG

 

More glass and pottery shards, cans and bridge cast offs.  More piles are upstream awaiting October 5.

 

 

P9010012.JPG

 

Will warming and near ready to walk out.

 

 

10-PawPawsRC.jpg

 

I found a few paw paws and this RC bottle.  I suspect it to be very old as it is marked: PROPERTY OF NEHI BOTTLING COMPANY.

 

 

 

 

 


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

#19 Chasmodes

Chasmodes
  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 04 September 2019 - 04:51 PM

Excellent posts again.  I love fish pics, but pictoral stories about trip experiences are just as interesting!


Kevin Wilson




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