Sunday, April 17, 2016

Creeks of Western Kentucky

On Sunday I parted ways with Lance and his girlfriend and drove south, stopping to check out the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Fort Defiance State Park.  There were a lot of barges.  I crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky and continued on until I reached Mayfield Creek.



The spot looked really interesting with a stretch of rapids dumping into a deep pool.  I did my carp and buffalo routine - chumming with corn and alfalfa pellets and fishing with nightcrawlers and corn - but I didn't catch any carp or buffalo.  The nightcrawlers got a few hits, but none of the fish were impressive.

White Bass (Morone chrysops)


Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)


Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)


I had high hopes for my next spot, Terrapin Creek, which is a tributary of the Obion River near the Tennessee Border.  It has over a half dozen species that I need, including some really cool darters like firebelly and brighteye.  The creek looked great and was cold when I stepped in.  However, I soon discovered that I was sinking into the gravel with every step.  Think quicksand... but replace the soft sand with lots of sharp rocks.



Fortunately, even with sharp rocks in my water shoes, I was able to pick up the one easy species in the creek, bluntface shiner.  Some of them looked like gravid females, but I didn't come across any spawning males.

Bluntface Shiner (Cyprinella camura) - new hook & line species #327


After the bluntface shiner I couldn't catch much else.  It was pretty bad.  I was godzilla walking upstream, sinking up to my knees with each step, sharp rocks in my shoes.  I spotted a funny looking darter.  Wait, nope, it was a pickerel.  Grass or chain, who knows, who cares.

Pickerel sp. (Esox sp.)


I tried going barefoot for a while.  My hamburger feet didn't thank me.  Oh hey there's a darter.  Can't find a stonefly nymph anywhere.  Maybe it will go for a bit of redworm.  Nope, I guess it won't.

Darter sp. (Etheostoma sp. who cares)


Hamburger foot godzilla walked back to the car, hoping he'd never see that creek again.  He dried his red disgusting feet, put on dry socks and shoes, and ate a banana.

Feeling better, I started working my way north.  I only had two spots to try in Kentucky, so I hoped the second one would be better than the first.  I pulled over at a highway bridge over the West Fork Clarks River.  Fortunately, I could see darters right away.  It took me a while to find a stonefly nymph for bait, but once I did I was able to quickly catch a male bandfin darter.

Bandfin Darter (Etheostoma zonistium) - new hook & line species #328


The females were also biting, but they didn't have the bright colors that the males had.



I didn't want to deal with the bright sun directly overhead, so I took the two previous photos in the shade under the highway bridge.  In hindsight, I wish I had dealt with the sun so the colors would have popped more.  This stream also had speckled darters, so I worked my way downstream looking for them.  My first catch was a male fantail dater.

Fantail Darter (Etheostoma flabellare)


I found the speckled daters, along with some more impressive male bandfins, hanging out in stoneroller nests.  They weren't interested in bits of redworm, so I got to work hunting for stonefly nymphs.  By the time I found one, I noticed the previously clear creek was getting muddy, and it wasn't from me!  Thirty seconds later it was the color of chocolate milk.



The muddy water was the end to my day in Kentucky.  When I arrived at the bridge I could see a bulldozer on the other side, pushing dirt into the creek.  Why someone thought dirt needed to be in this particular creek, I have no idea.

8 comments:

  1. That sucks about the dirt! I had that happen on one of my Arkansas smallmouth streams in the middle of a killer day. We were halfway to where we turn around, and muddy water just started flowing down, killing the bite. Same thing. No idea why.

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  2. That sucks about the dirt! I had that happen on one of my Arkansas smallmouth streams in the middle of a killer day. We were halfway to where we turn around, and muddy water just started flowing down, killing the bite. Same thing. No idea why.

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  3. Hi Ben, really enjoy reading your blog and am astounded at your ability to keep finding and catching new species. I'm thinking about making a concerted effort to up my species numbers on the fly this year and wonder what type of stoneflies you keep using as bait. If you don't know the type, what color and length?

    Harry

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    1. Thanks Harry! I'm not really sure what species the nymphs are. They look more or less like this: http://www.flycraftangling.com/images/1/Aquatic-Golden.jpg

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    2. They're usually no bigger than a half inch. If they're that big I only use half at a time. If they're a quarter inch I use the whole thing.

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  4. Your blog is fantastic. So you are sight fishing the little darters? Do you use a rod and reel or cane pole or? Again so entertaining.

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    1. Hey Matt, yeah I'm usually sight fishing them. On very rare occasion I'll catch one blindly, but usually I'm watching for one to take the bait so I can set the hook. I'm one of the few people who uses rod & reel. Most people use little Tenkara rods for fishing up close or long crappie rods for fishing hard to reach spots.

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