Sunday, October 27, 2013

VA / NC trip part 8 - Clinch River drainage

Day six was our final day of fishing. We decided to spend our time in the Clinch River and its tributaries. Before fishing the main river, we drove a ways up a mountain road to check out a small tributary creek. One of the locals was confused why were fishing in such a small creek. We enjoy talking with locals, but at the same time we want to keep conversations short, so we explained that we were having a competition with each other to see who could catch the most fish. It wasn't exactly true, but it's easier to explain than the concept of lifelisting.

The Clinch River drainage did not disappoint. Miciah caught a nice warpaint shiner, and I caught a number of other species. I would have liked a warpaint as well, but I strategically did not catch one so I can visit this part of the country again *wink*.

Sawfin Shiner (Notropis sp.) - new hook & line species #147

Telescope Shiner (Notropis telescopus) - new hook & line species #148

Whitetail Shiner (Cyprinella nivea) - new hook & line species #149

We knew that even more fish were waiting for us in the main river, so we wrapped up at the stream and drove through the mountain valley until we found a good access spot on the Clinch.  We really wanted to find tangerine darters (google search them and you'll see why), but unfortunately I don't think we were in their preferred habitat.  We were, however, in the right habitat for smaller darter species.  Within a few minutes I had added two new darters to my lifelist!  Besides redline and bluebreast, we saw eastern greenside, golden, and some kind of snubnose darters.  If only we had more time...

Redline Darter (Etheostoma rufilineatum) - new hook & line species #150

Bluebreast Darter (Etheostoma camurum) - new hook & line species #151

Upstream of the riffle there were lots of Tennessee shiners and streamline chubs.  The streamline chubs were especially cool to watch as they grazed on the sandy bottom.  I think Miciah got another warpaint shiner here, and once again I selectively chose not to catch one so I have an excuse to come back.

Streamline Chub (Erimystax dissimilis) - new hook & line species #152

This wrapped up our fishing trip.  I'm so glad we chose to finish the trip at this location!  The fish diversity was nothing short of incredible.  I started the trip with a hook & line lifelist of 114 species and finished with 152!  Thirty-eight new species in six days is going to be tough to beat.


  1. What a wonderful trip! I think your posts will encourage more people to make trips like this.

  2. That's a very impressive trip, one I'm sure you will remember for a long time to come. Your blog and pics have inspired and motivated me, only ever fishing outside of our province once even though I have left it many times. It turns out my wife and I have spent time targeting smaller fish with out even knowing we were microfishing, I can't wait for next year to spend some time doing it properly.

    Any tips on a good website or supply chain of small hooks? Details of your 12 foot crappie pole please.

  3. Glad you're enjoying it! Ironically enough, the commenter above you is the guy who runs TenkaraBum, the site where I buy my micro hooks. I recommend the presnelled Tanago New Half Moon hooks. They're actually narrower than the Tanago Smallest hooks, despite the nomenclature. It looks like he's out of stock at the moment, but when they're back in stock that's what you should get.

    Since you live in the north, most tackle shops should have a trout fly tying section. You should be able to find very small hooks there, size #26 or even #32. They're cheap so you should try them as well, but I think you'll find the Tanago hooks catch more fish.

    I'm using a two piece 12 foot Crappie Max rod with an ultralight spinning reel. The reel allows me to cast, which is helpful when I'm using a float and want to position my bait farther than I can reach with the rod. However, it's my understanding that most people using crappie poles are using the style where you tie the line directly to the tip, so casting is not an option. Those poles can be very cheap, most telescope out further than 12 feet, and they're easier to jump out of the car and use right away.

    This is a sport where nothing is set in stone, so by all means be inventive.