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Johnsfolly

Big Piney - Micro fish

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In my quest for an Ozark slam I took a side trip to Big Piney river to try for some minnows. I read a blog post a couple of years ago about a microfishing trip in Missouri. I kept that article and checked off species from that blog as a target for me in my microfishing ventures. The last fish on the list was the blackspotted topminnow. I knew that the big piney would likely have this topminnow, but I just could find the time to get down to that river until yesterday. I knew that the river got close to Route J before the confluence of Spring creek. I did not know if there would be a fishable access in that area. Fortunately I found that there was a set of steps that went down to the river. I did see some minnows along the bank and I was pumped. My enthusiasm waned when I saw that my worms had liquefied in the heat of the car. I had on a #26 tanago hook and had no bait that would stay on the hook. I looked at the trout magnet lures and trimmed off a tiny piece of the pink/purple lure and rigged the hook. Down at the water I waited a couple of minutes to let the fish calm down again. I could see several minnows including a couple that were either blackstripe or blackspotted topminnows. The first fish was what looked to me to be a brook silverside. I will have to get this one checked, because it looks different than ones I have seen in the past.

Brook silverside (2) - Big Piney - 22Jul17.jpg

The next two fish were blackstriped topminnows.

Blackstripe Topminnow - Big Piney - 22Jul17.jpg

Standing in the sun with no wind got really hot. I kept looking for other topminnows. I saw a tail in the deeper water that was much bigger than my hand then I clearly saw a large grass carp swim by. No chance at either of these fish. I finally found what I was looking for and landed this blackspotted topminnow.

Blackspotted Topminnow - Big Piney - 22Jul17.jpg

Not only did I succeed in my catch, but I also found out that minnows will hit the plastic as well as natural bait. Gives me a lot more options in the future. I can finally get rid of the last page from that microfishing blog. Was a hot but successful day of microfishing on the Big Piney. I may have to come back for those grass carp :). (Drives my wife crazy)

 

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No, your first fish is not a silverside.  They are longer, slimmer, have a spiny dorsal fin in front of a soft dorsal that's farther back than the dorsal fin I can barely see on your fish, and they have a different-shaped mouth, with a long, pointy snout, almost like a pike.

The best book for Missouri fish identification is "Fishes of Missouri", by William Pflieger.  The second edition is the one you want.  But it is now out of print, though you can still find them on Amazon occasionally.  There is also a "Fishes of Arkansas" book, I forget the author, and I don't know if it's still in print, but it is almost as good for Missouri Ozark fish.

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1 minute ago, Daryk Campbell Sr said:

John, how are you able to identify the fish?  Is there a book, or pamphlet you could refer me to? Thanks, Daryk.  

Daryk

I constantly read the Fishes of Missouri by Pflieger. It's getting hard to find copies. The MDC puts out a magazine like version with excerpts from the book. You should be able to pick that up at any conservation office or nature center around the state. I also was introduced a year or so ago to the man that is revising that book. I send him a lot of photos and see if he agrees with my identifications. He collects his fish with seines but gets a kick out of me chasing them with a hook and line. His revision of the Fishes of MO may be out by the end of the year. I also look at a lot of online photos of different species. You have to be careful because your search engine may give you photos of a different species. So I don't use that as my sole source of information. The North American Native Fish Association has folks that can help with id work.

I will admit that more often or not I target species that have well defined features. I also will preserve some fish for id but try to minimize doing that if I can id them in the field. I hope that we can find a weekend to fish together.

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2 minutes ago, Al Agnew said:

No, your first fish is not a silverside.  They are longer, slimmer, have a spiny dorsal fin in front of a soft dorsal that's farther back than the dorsal fin I can barely see on your fish, and they have a different-shaped mouth, with a long, pointy snout, almost like a pike.

The best book for Missouri fish identification is "Fishes of Missouri", by William Pflieger.  The second edition is the one you want.  But it is now out of print, though you can still find them on Amazon occasionally.  There is also a "Fishes of Arkansas" book, I forget the author, and I don't know if it's still in print, but it is almost as good for Missouri Ozark fish.

Al

I wish that I was able to bag this fish to photograph it in water (had a three foot drop to the water). The fish will often spread their fins making those characters easier to see. I agree about the mouth not being pointed or beak like. I wasn't sure if the angle of the picture effected the way the mouth would look. Any thoughts on its ID? I used my phone and don't have the macro capabilities to get the fine details in these photos.

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12 hours ago, Johnsfolly said:

Al

I wish that I was able to bag this fish to photograph it in water (had a three foot drop to the water). The fish will often spread their fins making those characters easier to see. I agree about the mouth not being pointed or beak like. I wasn't sure if the angle of the picture effected the way the mouth would look. Any thoughts on its ID? I used my phone and don't have the macro capabilities to get the fine details in these photos.

My guess is Common Shiner or possibly Ozark Shiner.  But leaning towards Common Shiner.

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As an old ichthyologist I know some of those minnows are extremely difficult to key without the specimen in hand, many times comes down to fin ray or pharyngeal teeth counts, doubt you will ever know for certain.

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1 hour ago, Justin Spencer said:

As an old ichthyologist I know some of those minnows are extremely difficult to key without the specimen in hand, many times comes down to fin ray or pharyngeal teeth counts, doubt you will ever know for certain.

Justin

I agree and this may be a species that I will have to catch again to do a real ID.

Gavin and Linhardt

Not sure about it being a common shiner. I am used to catching larger specimens and they tend to be deeper in the body between the belly and dorsal fin than I am seeing with this specimen. I am not familiar with the Ozark shiner and did not think that they were found in the Gasconade/Big Piney systems. As I mentioned to Justin, I may just have to get back down there and catch another one to dissect and properly id this species:).

I'm still waiting on a response to my emails about this fish.

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I'm out in Montana and don't have access to my books.  But I'm pretty sure it isn't a common shiner nor an Ozark shiner.  It actually looks the most like an emerald shiner to me.  Emerald shiners are found all over the Ozarks, mainly from bait bucket releases over the years, since they are the usual small minnows sold commercially.

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