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March Microfishing

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After all of the crappie and panfishing that we had done in Feb and March, my daughter kept asking to go “tiny fish” fishing. So of course I had to correct her that the term was microfishing. Ok I didn’t do that, but did look at the weather to see when it would be best suited to get after the tiny fish. I really want to fish a stream system that has greenside darters in order to catch a nice male in its breeding colors. My daughter really wants to catch some new species and preferably catch one or two with her hands.  I had agreed that I would start a thread on OAF dedicated to her hand fishing catches when she is able to catch some.  Of course she also calls our posts on OAF as my “blogging site” and I always correct her that this is a public forum with discussion about fishing in and outside of the Ozarks and also about other very important topics :). She told me that blogging sounds better than just me talking with a bunch of old guys on the internet :).

Anyway back to the fishing. We planned on getting out last Saturday before the rain. However, the rain was headed towards us from the south, which is where we were originally headed. So I decided we would stay close to home. The creek is only about 10 minutes from the house. Even then the rain hit us just as we were getting on the water. A lot of microfishing is really about seeing the fish respond and strike the bait then a quick hook set. If you feel the fish take the bait, then it’s likely that it will swallow the small hooks. Getting a size 26 hook out of a 2-3 inch fish is a real challenge if it swallows the hook and it very likely will lead to the death of the fish. So it’s best if there is decent water clarity to go after the really small guys, like the darters. The rain on the water disturbed the surface too much to really focus on the darters in the creek. So Livie and I shared the rod with the size 14 hooks and went after larger fish.  Livie caught one common shiner and a small bluegill and I caught three common shiners before we were too soaked and left the creek.

This common shiner was Livie’s first catch for this species.


Here’s her bluegill.


I had planned on a trip down to Bennett Springs on Sunday, but again due to the weather and some commitments around the house we hit the local stream again. This time we were equipped with better rain gear and polarized glasses to better see the darters.

Livie caught the first two darters on the #26 hook, this female and male orangethroat darters.




While she was going after the darters, I was catching common shiners on the #14 hook. Then I switched rods with Livie and she caught her first longear sunfish for this year.


Livie kept getting sunfish bites while I fished for the darters. I kept trying to get one of the minnows in a small school interested in my bait, but I just couldn’t get them to bite. However, I was able to catch my first orangethroat darters of the new fishing year.


We switched rods again and I caught two creek chubs. This second fish was a nice male that was getting his breeding coloration and nuptial turbercles on its head and snout. Microfish are not always small. This chub was at least seven inches long. That is about the size of some bass photos posted on this forum that I see from some of the SW MO kayak fisherman/photographers :).



Livie also caught a nice creek chub and then her first green sunfish of the year.



I also caught my first green and my first longear sunfish.



It’s funny how perspective plays into our excitement about each of these catches. Since they are the first ones we have caught this year, we are excited with each of these fish. Though they will become more of a nuisance later in the year when they take out baits as we are trying for something else.

We didn’t fish much longer. Livie was not able to catch one with her hands, but will keep trying. She did end up catching 6 different species on this trip and now has caught a total of 55 fish and 10 different species since the beginning of March. Two of them were new lifelist species. I also caught 6 different species on this trip, which brings my species count to 13 since the beginning of the month.

With all of the rain, the creek I was going to fish for greenside darters is now running like chocolate milk. So I will have to hope that it will clear within the next week or so for me to get back after them.

I know that these are not the big bass or stripers or trout photos, but dropping down the hook sizes and getting back to basic bait fishing, I get to enjoy fishing with my family in places like this one close to home.


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Nice job Livie!  I am subscribed to this thread for sure.  We'll have to get Livie and my oldest river rat out there together.  Maybe you can help us put a list together as I showed her this post and she wants to do the same!  Have a great little creek not too far from us which I am sure could get her started.  

Glad you guys could get some time in.  I wanted to hit the creeks for some smallie action this past weekend, but with the rain it was chocolate milk too... :(


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Looks like great fun.  I fish the creek near my house, that flows into the Mississippi a mile or so downstream, often.  I can be in the water in minutes as opposed to driving several miles to other streams.  The potential for large fish may not be the same but that does not make it less fun.

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Our little creek cleared up so took the girls down to explore for a bit.  The were some darters that I just could not get netted, but we did catch 3 of these little guys.  

I just call them minnows, but I'm sure somebody can tell me the exact name.  Caught them on a tiny Scud, no rod just hand fishing off a water bottle.




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After church today, my girls begged me to go back down and explore the creek some more.

Armed with some muck Boots and the same tiny Scud we quickly nabbed some more minnows.  Then I spotted a darter, and was able to net him up. Also caught a different minnow with no stripes.

Caught one minnow that was almost as long as the zip lock bag, and saw one in the creek that is close to 7 or 8 inches long.  Looked like a small bass at first...

Saw a colored up water snake too.  My 5 yr old was first to spot him too.  She's got a good eye for nature so far.

So thanks John for starting another fun addiction for me and the girls!  Had a blast the last 2 days trying to chase down those monster minnows! :)






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