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Spring Creek Shiners

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Last week I was back in Missouri. Came back to bad weather, but it got better later in the week. On Thursday I left work early to take Livie down to Spring creek, a tributary of the Gasconade river south of Vienna. I have fished this creek in the past and caught some spawning shiners. We were also planning on staying into the evening/night to be armed with headlamps to target madtoms.

I always set yearly goals. This year my goals are fairly modest (mainly targeting some new species and not really numbers). My main driver for the year is to help others meet some of their goals. Livie set a goal of catching 40 different species this year. Prior to this trip she had not caught more than 40 species in her whole life. Since we are going to be in Maryland after this summer, I felt that I could get Livie plenty of new species out in the briny water.

With microfishing, you need to be able to see the fish respond to the bait. That means clear water and relatively calm conditions. Well the water was clear, but the winds were brutal. We started fishing a spot that I had caught my very first greenside darter. Between the wind gusts we did get to see some different minnows and began catching darters. Mostly were female orangethroat darters. Livie caught the first male orangethroat (her first of the year and her 11th species since March 1).

Livie Orangethroat Darter - Spring creek - 12Apr18.JPG 

He was a nice fish. Soon after I caught my personal best orangethroat darter (in terms of coloration and condition ^_^).

Orangethroat Darter - Spring creek - 12Apr18.JPG

We never did find any greenside or other darters on this trip. So we focused on minnows. I caught a northern studfish and a couple of bleeding shiners. She and I kept switching off with the #26 Tanago hook rig. She and I both caught several new fish for the year including our first longear sunfish for the year.

Some of her memorable catches of the day.

Blackspotted topminnow

Livie - Blackspotted Topminnow - Spring Creek - 12Apr18.jpg

A bigeye shiner (new lifer).

Livie - Bigeye shiner - Spring Creek - 12Apr18.jpg

Northern studfish

Livie - Northern Studfish - Spring Creek - 12Apr18.jpg

Striped shiner (new lifer)

Livie - Striped Shiner - Spring Creek - 12Apr18.jpg

It was starting to get dark and we headed north to fish a spot where Livie last caught a madtom by hand (Daryk would recognize the spot). Now it was time with a hook and line. The wind was still going to be a problem. We did not find any madtoms early on. At one time we got hit with what seemed to be thousands of mayflies(?). It wasn't until we got to a section of the creek that had some chunk rock and gravel and it was dark enough that we began to see some madtoms. I have fished for madtoms a couple of time before and they can be a real challenge. First they shy away from the light. Then they spook easily when you walk the stream.  Lastly for some reason they are difficult to get a good hookset and that if you miss you won't get that fish to bite again. The good things are that they are pretty plentiful and if you can get a bait near the fish they can be aggressive. For us to be successful we needed several strikes to get one hook up. Just to prove a point Livie had three strikes and pulled two of those fish well out of the water but they were not hooked and dropped back into the water. I missed at least three myself. Then Livie broke the ice and landed her very first hook and line slender madtom :D!


She and I both lost another one or two. Then I finally caught my only slender madtom of the night.


The worse part of the evening as that as we headed back downstream towards the car we passed a large hole around a large tree/rootwad and there were at least four or five madtoms in the hole :huh:!

Livie ended up the night with seven new species on the day and three new lifers. It was a great evening! She is close to halfway to her goal. We will keep at it.

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