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Tennesee Tiny Fish

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One of the great things about being an obsessive multispecies angler and a micro-fisherman is that no creek, tributary, drainage ditch is too small to potentially hold some new species. it also helps when you have a partner in crime, in this case my daughter, to convince your wife that a quick side trip to find a small creek is a good way to split the long trip.

My wife and daughter stayed out in Maryland with me and we decided to drive to Memphis (that's another story) instead of a direct route back to Columbia. Suggesting the Memphis trip was primarily to visit the Bass Pro shops in the Pyramid, but a secondary motivation was to catch some of the diverse species found in Tennessee. We decided to drive through the night. I picked up driving after 3 am and was scanning every river, creek and stream as soon as it got light enough to see. After we passed the Duck River just outside of Bucksnort, TN, I pulled off at the next exit and tried to find any access to a tributary or the river itself. We did find a boat access and saw that the river was cold and colored up from the recent rains. We didn't wet a line. However, we found a small clear water creek going into the river. Below the culvert was a plunge pool followed by a series of riffles and pools. The pools held fish that neither Livie or I had ever seen before.

I had on a long shank #20 hook and a small piece of worm that I put on the hook at the car. I dropped the bait into the school of minnows and caught my first rosyside dace.

Dad Dace (1) - Tenn 04Apr18.jpg

As elated as I was with this new life list species and the first fish that I ever caught in Tennessee, I was just as disappointed that the fish took my bait with the remaining piece of worm back in the car. Livie did not want to go back to the car to get another worm. So she dug around the creek and found a couple of small worms. With those worms, we got into a few other fish.

Livie caught the first darter and we were not able to get a photo since it ended up back in the water after she got it unhooked. She did find a couple of more and even with the poor picture we were able to id this one as a buffalo darter based upon the humped back and the anal fin rays differentiating this species from the orangethroat darter.

Livie Bison Darter (2) - Tenn 04Apr18.jpg

I had to get one as well and landed this buffalo darter, another life list species.

Dad Bison Darter (2) - Tenn 04Apr18.jpg

 I tried to catch a different looking darter in a deeper pool, but failed to get a good hook set and could not get it interested again after taking the bait once. There were a number of minnows and a couple of large ones with obvious nuptial tubercles. The small minnow kept taking the bait. Livie and I caught a couple of southern redbelly dace, a new species for her, but she could not hook and land one of the rosyside dace.

Livie Redbelly - Tenn 04Apr18.jpg

The larger fish eventually left that pool or hid under the larger rocks/logs and we never did get a chance to hook one. Livie was determined to catch a rosyside dace and finally caught one in the pool where I hooked my first one.

Dace - Tenn 04Apr18.jpg

Then she hooked this fish. The body shape and mouth size would indicate that it might be just another rosyside dace, which I am inclined to go with. It's just that the coloration is just off a bit. I have not been able to get a good id on it and am open to suggestions by anyone familiar with Tennessee minnows :).

Livie Dace (3) - Tenn 04Apr18.jpg

It was then that I got a text from my wife that we should head back on the highway. I'll leave this photo of a Luna moth near the road as a parting shot.

Tenn Luna moth 04Apr18.jpg



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I am very envious!   Great job you two!  You have a great wife.  

Money is just ink and paper, worthless until it switches hands, and worthless again until the next transaction. (me)

I am the master of my unspoken words, and the slave to those that should have remained unsaid. (unknown)

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