Louisville, Kentucky, Collecting Report, October
I spent last week in Louisville, KY. When Saturday (the 20th) rolled around, it was time to do some collecting. I met up with Geoff Kimber (Lexington, KY) about 10AM at a stream called Pope Lick that belongs to the hamlet of Fisherville, KY. This stream was the site of my first introduction to collecting natives 27 years ago. It was as beautiful as I recalled, and the nostalgia factor was high. The weather was great...in the 70s with barely a breeze and lots of sun. The temperatures had been in the 40s earlier in the week so although the water was clear, it was much too chilly for snorkeling. I WAS tempted...it would have been great shock training for the Michigan convention. (-: Instead, I opted for waders while Geoff braved it in shorts and wading shoes.
Pope Lick is a clear running, shallow stream with a bottom made up of stone and gravel. In this particular location there is also a cool oxbow that is on the muddy side. I will never get used to the idea of streams being privately owned, but such is now the case for a good section of Pope Lick, unfortunately. The spot I selected, however, "belongs" to the local Parks Dept. so we had access to a good 500 yards of water...more than enough as it turned out. The fish were in abundance, with at least 23 species recorded. Here's the list:
This stream used to be loaded with gizzard shad, but we didn't see any that day (time of year, perhaps). The really neat surprise was the brook silversides. Until now, Geoff is the only guy I've personally known to successfully keep them alive. His touch must have rubbed off on me. We took a 52qt. cooler out of my car and filled it about 3/4 of the way with clear water from the stream, then Geoff dosed it with StressCoat. All the way back to GA I kept periodically putting in ziplock sandwich bags filled with ice to keep the water screaming cold. The bags kept the untreated ice from melting into the cooler. The results were well worth the effort. Except for one specimen that I nuked for the Borgia Ichtiopathology Lab, all of the brookies survived and are doing well. In fact, I didn't lose a single fish of any kind in transit.
The next site we visited was just east of downtown Louisville in a small creek call Muddy Fork very near the main body of the Ohio River. This creek was not nearly as pleasant, but I chose it because of the grass pickerel I caught near there many years before. Geoff and I both hoped to bag a few of them, but it wasn't happening that day. The bottom was mostly mud mixed with sand. The mud was treacherous in spots and the snakes were awake. The only one we encountered was a harmless brown water snake. Here's a list of what we caught/observed:
Geoff and I finally called it a day about 4PM. He got back on the road to Lexington, and I headed back to the hotel. The next day, I began the drive back to GA. I stopped briefly at the Nolin River and the Green River in KY, but they were deep and not convenient for one-man seining. After I crossed over into TN, I stopped at the Red River just below the KY line on I-65. This was another wonderful spot! The water was shallow and clear, and the bottom was solid rock. The collecting was easy so I didn't have to stay long. Here's what I collected/observed:
Black spotted topminnow
I also stopped at the Elk River in TN where I-24 crosses it between Altamont and Monteagle. This river was dead! Except for a very few TN snubnose darters and the dreaded gambusia. I saw NOTHING...not only fish, but all other life seemed to be absent as well. Does anybody have any info on this river? It looks like it should support all kinds of life, but something is definitely wrong there.
After that, darkness prevented any more collecting. When I got home, the water in the cooler was still so cold it took all night for it to reach room temperature in the holding tank in the fish room. I held my breath as I put the brook silversides into the destination tank the next morning, but they did fine and appear to be feeding. These are really beautiful fish to watch. All in all, a very successful trip!
Here are some photos. Click on the small picture to display a larger one:
Because I couldn't seem to convince the fish to hold still, I attempted a few close-up shots through the side of a drinking glass. There is some distortion (sigh), but you get the idea. This is an incredibly cranky banded darter.
I attempted a "group shot" of the Red River collection. If you have zoom capability, you should be able to pick 'em out. Yes, I know about the java fern trying to get into the filter. It's a newly planted tank. Here's a larger scan.