On our third and final day in Oklahoma, Pat and I joined forces with Miciah and Levi to fish some spots an hour south of Tahlequah. Our first stop was a tributary of Sallisaw Creek. The combination of crystal clear water and rock walls made this a very scenic spot.
Here we caught species we had already seen on the trip - longear sunfish, green sunfish, plains darter, sunburst darter, and cardinal shiner. We never got tired of the colorful darters! It's a shame I couldn't get the fins on the plains darter below to stand up, because it was one of the best specimens I caught.
Sunburst Darter (Etheostoma mihileze)
Plains Darter (Etheostoma pulchellum)
We spent a little time in the main Sallisaw Creek, but soon moved east to Little Lee Creek near the Arkansas border. This spot had great access and wide variety of habitats.
My first catch was a shiner that I've been looking for each time I've visited the Ozarks, a wedgespot shiner. It was easy to tell apart from the more common bigeye shiner - it had a more silvery body and a clear triangle-shaped wedge at the base of its tail.
Wedgespot Shiner (Notropis greenei) - new hook & line species #287
In the deeper section of the creek above the riffle we found steelcolor shiners. They are very fast swimmers, and in order to catch them you have to call them over to you. What I would do is smack my split shot against the water several times. When the steelcolor shiners would race over to investigate, I'd put my bait in front of the biggest male I saw. I am VERY excited to replace my lifelist photo with the one below!
Steelcolor Shiner (Cyprinella whipplei)
We found logperch sitting on the bottom in a shallow smooth section of the creek above the riffle. Once you got your bait past the shiners, they were pretty easy to catch. The orange in the dorsal fin suggests that they're Ozark logperch, but from what I hear the taxonomy of the midwest logperch is pretty messy.
Ozark Logperch (Percina fulvitaenia)
In the same area where we caught the logperch, we also caught small fish that looked similar to bluntnose minnows. They had narrow bodies, pointy heads, and yellow iridescence, and we were able to identify them as slim minnows. We were excited to get to see this species!
Slim Minnow (Pimephales tenellus) - new hook & line species #288
I have to thank Miciah for my last species of the day. We couldn't find any redfin darters out in the riffle, but Miciah was able to find some in the very shallow side pools. They were tough to catch, but several of us each caught one. Mine refused to put its fins up for a photo, so the one below will have to do.
Redfin Darter (Etheostoma whipplei) - new hook & line species #289
Three new lifers was much better than I was expecting! In the late afternoon we packed up our vehicles and drove back to Tahlequah to get ready for the NANFA banquet. At the banquet we assembled a pretty large crew of species anglers. It must have been the largest group of people who can catch darters on hook & line together in one place at one time! From left to right below are Mike Berg, Miciah McNelius, Mike Channing, Greenwood Champ, Levi Cain, Josh Leisen, Joy Leisen, myself, and Pat Kerwin.