Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 NANFA convention part 5 - Oklahoma lifers

With the first half of the trip complete, we crossed the border into Oklahoma.  The land of flooded waters and North American Native Fishes Association conventions!  I'll admit, I'm a better trip planner than a trip improviser, so it was a struggle to find last minute spots for us to check out since the southern half of the state was still affected by flooding.  I figured we'd head to Tahlequah, the town where the convention was being held, and figure things out from there.  Our first stop was a park in town with a tributary of the Barren Fork passing through it.

We soon found the local orangethroat darter split, the plains darter.  The one in the photo below had a streak of red in the anal fin, which is not typical of orangethroats.  We also found a few fantails hanging out under larger rocks.

Plains Darter (Etheostoma pulchellum) - new hook & line species #283

Fantail Darter (Etheostoma flabellare)

We were getting ready to leave the spot when Levi and I spotted a darter that was too big to be a plains darter.  We weren't able to catch it, but it piqued our interest, so we looked around for more darters.  Our culprit turned out to be a sunburst darter, and we were able to find and catch a few of them.  They tended to hang out at the bases of aquatic plants rather than out in the open or under rocks.

Sunburst Darter (Etheostoma mihileze) - new hook & line species #284

I also caught this sculpin, but it wasn't fair hooked.  We found a few of them, but for some odd reason they weren't interested in savagely attacking our baits (as sculpin usually do).

Banded Sculpin (Cottus carolinae)

We had one more spot to try, a road crossing on Spring Creek.  On the drive to the location, we passed several springs like the one below.

Spring Creek was an awesome spot.  We had plenty of space to park our cars, and the road crossing made it easy to access the creek.  Oklahoma, if you're paying attention, protect this creek because it's a real gem!

My first catch was a big stoneroller with full body tubercles.  We could see schools of them hugging the bottom towards the back of the pools.

Largescale Stoneroller (Campostoma oligolepis)

A large chub took my bait, but I couldn't keep it hooked with the tiny Tanago hook I was using.  I replaced it with a #20 hook, put on a small chunk of redworm, and cast into the same pool.  Right away I hooked another chub!  It didnt' have any tubercles, but it was still a good looking fish.

Respot Chub (Nocomis asper) - new hook & line species #285

I switched back to the Tanago hook and spent the rest of my time targeting shiners and darters.  I caught a few plains darters as well as quite a few cardinal shiners.  Didn't see much red in the cardinal shiners, but I heard from some of the NANFA folks who snorkeled the spot the next day that there were a few colorful ones mixed in the schools.

Cardinal Shiner (Luxilus cardinalis) - new hook & line species #286

After this spot Pat and I checked in to the convention hotel in Tahlequah.  We were pretty happy with our first day in Oklahoma!

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