Jump to content


North Chickamauga Creek July 1, 2021

11 replies to this topic

#1 Casper

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

Posted 02 July 2021 - 06:45 PM

North Chickamauga Creek July 1st, 2021
I entered the creek a bit further upstream as Rob had told me how much he had enjoyed it a couple months earlier.
But now the water was lower, and only a couple snorkelable spots looked inviting.  80 degrees in the air and 63 in the spring fed waters.  I had been looking for an opportunity to return for several weeks now.
Crossing the creek, climbing the far bank and walking through the woods i came across a flush of Green Dragons.  I thought they were typically a rare plant but i could have counted 100.  Sometimes i see them soon after the morels fade away.
Getting to an overlook i saw this mass of vibrant American Val, such a lush and beautiful aquatic plant.  I can be hypnotized by their oscillation.  It is surprising how much plant diversity is here in North Chick.
Not being lured further upstream, i cut across the TWRA property and waded in directly across from my typical access point.  An arced rock marks the spot with a precarious descent and ascent.   A nervy endeavor for a 64 year old.  With my mask on i started picking up glass shards, rusted cans and piling them into submerged tires for bagging at a later date.  It's now a habit here i cannot reject.  Drifting slowly downstream was generally uneventful.  A thin silty film covered the substrate and visibility was only about 3 feet with reasonable clarity.  Past 5 feet any visibility blurred to green shadows.  The water had a milky quality, glaring in the bright light.  Drifting into a jam i spied this young Musk Turtle in need of a haircut.
Working through the log jams i came across this open eyed face.  Every year floods expose lost objects and the log jams get reconfigured into new structures.  I found a couple River Chub mounds, dusted with silt, still mounded from the Spring spawnings.  A few Spotfin Shiners flashed around me, a high male trimmed in white.  Last year i found a group spawning in the tree limbs, but today i seemed to be their object of interest.  When i followed them to the left, they were soon on my right.  When i went to the right, they went to my left.  Last year they were in my facemask.  Looking at my records they should be hot in a couple more weeks, motivating a return.
I continued free drifting to the pooled bend where the lower mill bridge appears to the left downstream.  Chin deep i lifted my eyes out of the water only to see a bundle of bright green vegetation approaching me.  I eased out my camera just as the muskrat, or perhaps a young beaver, dive down with his lunch.
As one approaches the bridge the substrate changes to sharp boulders cushioned with a dense lush moss.  Fish started appearing in abundance as a school of Striped Shiners, various Sunfish and a single Yellow Perch swirled around me.  Following the pool's perimeter you can find uprisings of cold spring water in the dancing sandy patches.
I drifted on to the bridge where the sharp stones had been cobbled together making a pool which cascaded into a run directly beneath the bridge.  I circumvented the flow and came up from downstream at the mill site.  The day's experience became instantly enhanced, as the shallow flowing water was clear, oxygenated and full of life.  A swirling of fish welcomed me as i tried to orient myself in the narrow run.
Here were several River Chubs, this male retaining the pits from his horny headed days.
Stonerollers, Logperch, Redlines, Snubs and a hefty Greenside Darter.  A few Warpaints, a solitary Smallmouth Bass and one quick glanced Rainbow Darter.  Striped Shiners, Hogsuckers... what am i missing?
Greenside Darter with his WWW's down his side.  They are generally a nervous Darter, difficult to approach and photograph.
An abundance of grazing Stonerollers.  Stone nibblers, scrapping off bits of algae.
A Tennessee Snubnose Darter, a male out and about, proud of himself.
Any movement unleashed a flurry of sand which made for a storm in my early photos.  It took awhile to get myself properly oriented in the flow and minimize the sand particles.
Snub perched high.  Very common species in a variety of waters of our region.
Logperch had been the most abundant species while drifting down the creek.  At one point i floated into a pod of well over a dozen, maybe even 20.  Here in the cobbled run these Loggies were busy flipping stones with their noses, looking for tiny edibles.
Several Sculpins made an appearance, color morphing into the surrounding cobbled substrate.
Crayfish were in abundance hiding under the stones or out crawling freely.  This one was holed up, claws at the ready.
Out and about.
The biggest crayfish encountered this day, and of many days.
Underside.  Male or female some can tell.  There is a thing...
The most beautiful critters encountered were the Redline Darter males.  Several were staking out their sites and a few offered good photo opportunities.  This photo is how you often see them, always on the move, darting from spot to spot, peeking from between the stones and crevasses.
This male offered a nice broadside view on a clean stone.  Likely my best photo for the day.
After about 5 hours i had enough and climbed out to see a fisherman casting upstream of me.  We talked a bit and he caught this Bass on a plastic crawfish as we chatted.  The fisherman, Ted thought it might be a Spotted Bass.  I'm generally unsure when it comes to identifying between Spotted, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass... except for those beautiful Coosa Bass in the Conasauga.
Walking through the woods i checked on some Paw Paw trees and sure enough spotted a few up high.  Last year i found none here.  I got some dry clothes on and headed for a Chinese sitdown dinner just as the forecast rains arrived.

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

#2 swampfish

  • NANFA Member

Posted 03 July 2021 - 09:09 AM

Thanks for sharing your outing Casper. You got some nice photos.

Phil Nixon

#3 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 03 July 2021 - 11:52 AM

Nocomis and Logperch always make for a nice day!  And a promise of pawpaws later!  I actually have three small (about 2 feet) trees from one of the pawpaws you gave me years ago.

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

#4 El Todd

El Todd
  • NANFA Member
  • Silver Spring Md

Posted 03 July 2021 - 01:38 PM

Excellent photos! Thank you for sharing this, I never saw val like that in Maryland, if I see it at all it's patches here and there, nothing like the density in your picture.

#5 michifish

  • NANFA Member

Posted 03 July 2021 - 06:20 PM

Thanks for taking the time to share.

#6 lilyea

  • NANFA Member
  • Peace River Watershed, Central Florida, USA

Posted 03 July 2021 - 09:00 PM

Awesome!  Thanks for sharing - highly enjoyable as always!!!  

#7 Casper

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

Posted 05 July 2021 - 07:19 PM

I appreciate yall's interest, so here is a bit more...
North Chickamauga Creek July Return 5th 2021 
I had some lingering questions from Friday so went back for another focused look.  Conditions about the same, water 64, air 84.  Visibility slightly better as there had been no rain in 3 days since, about 4 or 5'.
The overview from the roadside.  Fairly clear, and seemingly inviting from above.  Those log jams are the most interesting to explore.  Working your way into them slowly, cautiously through the branches and logs will yield all kinds of sights.  Bass, Sunfish, Rock Bass, Suckers.  But watch for snags and minimize any dive downs or under passes.
Using the same entry point as 3 days ago.  Here you can see a spring flowing out to the creek proper.  When i stepped out just upstream of this point i sank to my knees in the soft, silty sand.  I had to crawl out to better graveled footing and decided to check out some shallow flows upstream, but to little satisfaction.  I did see a group of Black S. Topminnows cruising their way upstream along the creek's edge.  Hard to view these interesting fish while snorkeling, unless you want a neck crick later in the night.
I wanted to check on that patch of suspected Green Dragons.  I found a plant knocked over and photographed the underside here.  Kinda like Dragon Wings, as one source suggested.  However i found no dragon tongues, no green dragon eggs nor red dragon berries.  Could this be something else?  I counted 50 and counted again and had 100.  Very common plant through the forested floodplain.  I had read about a nearly identical Chinese invader but i will stay confused it appears.
Caterpillar unknown.  Deep black.
Climbing out of the rich flood plain i stepped into the TWRA mow field.  Paw Paws behind me and briers and stickers to my left and right and forward.  I went left for for a hundred yards or 2.
I eased back into the cool creek, refreshed from the stinging nettle on my ankles and was soon at the arced stone.  See the gap in it?  Unusual sharp sculptured material.  And note the steep access up to the guardrail and back down the gnarly steep.  Precarious either way.  I kinda like the gentle access point upstream.
Green eyed Dragon, the rivercruiser let me get pretty close. 3 or 4" wingspan.
Looking upstream with the old mill site on the left.  You can see the big wheel gear and centered beneath the bridge locals had worked the rocks into a cobbled dam for a glass shard laden wading pool.
The drift downstream had been generally uneventful.  Long sections of near nothingness, maybe pods of Logperch and when pausing Snubs and Bluesided Darters would appear near structures.  I had gathered a few more piles of glass shards, broken bottles and rusted cans into tires.  I'm not to keen on bagging them out this October.  For 4, 5  or 6 years i have done so with the much appreciated help.  But the bank is high and the water cold in October and i'm getting older.
Friday i had worn my full body 5 mil suit and was quite comfortable being immersed all 5 hours.  However when doning the suit i was unable to zip up the back and just decided to let it be.  Big mistake!  That night about 4 am i had Connie look at my aching back.  She said i had a bright red V burned into it.  Another lesson learned.  And another lesson is to use 100% aloe, not some deceivingly marketed glycerin based product labeled with 100% aloe.  Check the ingredients.
Today i put on my 2/3 mil suit, zipped it up tight, but i was chilled within 3 hours and relented.
I gathered some more glass shards beneath the bridge and watched the darters dart about and decided to cut the day short with a meandering walk through the woods and drive back to the studio.
Chattanooga has 3 urban streams and this is the best generally.  I have another site / trib close to home but i can only lay in a couple spots.  My backyard, South Chickamauga Creek, is rarely clear enough to snorkel, when i can i call that grope snorkeling.

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

#8 Lucania200

  • NANFA Member

Posted 05 July 2021 - 10:32 PM

Nice find with the caterpillar. It's a Battus philenor (Pipvine Swallowtail).

#9 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 08 July 2021 - 02:43 PM

I always love your reports, Casper, and these reports are no exception.  The pics, story, and details fascinate me, and allow me to almost be there with you.  Thanks for that nice virtual escape!

Kevin Wilson

#10 UncleWillie

  • NANFA Member
  • Georgia

Posted 09 July 2021 - 07:08 AM

I just want to echo Kevin.  As always, a wonderful report and an enjoyable read! Thanks for sharing.

Also, that dragonroot/green dragon plant looks spot-on to me.  Such a neat genus. I am a big fan of the jack-in-the-pulpit too.  The bass the fisherman caught looks to be largemouth.

Willie P

#11 Casper

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

Posted 10 July 2021 - 12:31 PM

Thanks for the black caterpillar ID.  I've seen those a few times in my life.  The black makes them standout.  Pipevine Swallowtail, i need to look that up.  Oh yes... those are pretty and i do see them often enough in the latter Summer.  Found this nifty photo to share.




Thanks Kevin.  I have been doing a lot of adventure snorkel wandering this season but not processing my photos nor writing quick enough and then the next trip occurs and wipes my memory bank clear.  But this one i jumped on the very next day.  I'm telling myself i will revisit my other jpg folders this Winter.


Thanks Willie.  I got several Largemouth ID's via my FaceBook posting and a couple Spotted Bass.  While in this creek some of the bigger Bass follow me around hoping i will flip up a piece of paneling or such and thus allow him to rush in and grab an exposed crawdad.  The Green Dragon has me perplexed as i saw no flowers nor berries.  I get to see plenty of the related Jack in the Pulpits while hunting morels and will work on studying them more carefully.


It often feels like it take more time editing pictures and words than "Living It".  My TG4 continues to service my activities albeit with disappointment.  10 photos and often all are weakly focused / blurred.  I bought a TG6 last Fall but the new menus and terminology are throwing me, not a natural evolution from the TG4... IMO.  I also need to make it field resistant before immersel traveling...  Lens cap, tether, screen covering, diffuser.


Onto more adventures...


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

#12 JasonL

  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 10 July 2021 - 08:15 PM

Thanks for posting.  I’ve not been to the Chickamauga but clearly I need to make it a priority.  Lots of neat species.

Reply to this topic


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users