Flooding with a Side of Crescent Shiners
There was a period in early August in North Carolina, where, after three weeks without rain, it proceeded to open up and not stop pouring for a whole week straight. You would probably assume that this sheer spike in water levels would have a drastically negative effect on water turbidity and fishing, right? Because if so you would be correct. The great fishing I had been enjoying for weeks came to a screeching halt and suddenly I saw my beloved rivers and streams turned into quaking torrents akin to Niagara Falls. Suddenly locating fish became nearly impossible for a time and I wasted several trips only to find the once pristine waterways clogged with the excess mother nature had dumped on us. But like any other hard-headed fisherman would know, a little bit of H20 is really no excuse for summertime cabin fever. So as any other logical human being might do, I planned a trip an exorbitant amount of time away at a spot I couldn't scout beforehand with no knowledge of what I was even supposed to be catching. My parents really talked me down off my idea, and told me I could accomplish so much more around the house. It was pretty effective and I wholeheartedly reviewed my plan. The next morning I was standing on the bank of a high muddy river in Danbury, North Carolina not knowing how I was going to pull a fish out of the raging torrent. And that was a problem, because coming home empty handed meant facing the dreaded "I told you so wrath" from my parents who had, in all honesty, totally foresaw my predicament. It took some pacing around the river, with no access on either side before I found my solution. There was a small creek right next to the boat ramp, so I hauled myself up a steep bank, when I lost my grip and fell into the shallow brook. After some choice exclamatory phrases, I realized this small running brook had been completely unaffected by flooding. It was mainly riffles with little pools but I decided to walk down it with nothing much to lose in my mind.
Suddenly I came across a pool filled with several small minnows. It wasn't really deep so I produced my size 14 hook with a small piece of red worm and proceeded to induce feeding frenzies but no hook sets. I realized, like the unprepared and unequivocally amateur angler I was that my hook was too big, so rationally I grabbed my pliers and squeezed the hook until it was significantly smaller. And you might not believe at it, you might even cringe at how I went about it, but the hook worked and before long I had my first fish, a colorful, dark-barred fish I had recognized but had no clue of the species or really even the genus.
Now, because I had a practical feeding frenzy on my hands, catching these fish was nonstop entertainment. I kept fishing harder and eventually pulled out a different minnow, which looked a lot like a creek chub with something a little off about it.
As anyone can attest, a minnow this generic is almost impossible to ID at this scale. After some help I ascertained it was probably a Nocomis, and likely a N. leptocephalus, otherwise known as the Bluehead Chub. I kept fishing and ended up catching several other mystery shiners. As all fellow AT&T users (sufferers) can attest, the service is quite terrible in places slightly off the beaten trail, and here I was hunched over a pool in the middle of the woods catching minnows. So yeah, my internet was kaput.
Eventually, in typical fashion, I found an actual trail from the creek to the parking lot and got bored of catching the shiners. I tried the roaring river to no avail and headed out. It took several miles out of the valley to get a sliver of cell service, and luckily I was not kidnapped during this period because that 911 call would have never been made. I was pretty bummed the river was flooded, but still psyched I had added a new species. I was driving back towards the town of Germanton to a little spot the god himself, Bobby Emory, had showed me when I saw a nice little creek under the road and pulled into what was most definitely a cow pasture to fish it. I found out it was called Flat Shoals Creek, and honestly it looked super promising. It tried walking up a creek akin to the one I had just left but found nothing in it.
Suddenly a storm started, but luckily it was around this time AT&T changed its mind about being completely useless and gave me enough service to ID the lifer I had gotten. I had caught a Crescent Shiner (Luxlius cerasinus), and although mine was beautiful I would be constantly reminded just how dull mine was compared to a spawner. I was gifted a break from the downpour and resumed fishing the bigger creek, which was muddy but not completely unfishable. Now, you might be expecting this story to take a turn for the great, but I'll be honest and let you know now that it won't and that I only caught two species this whole trip. The hole I found was alight with Bluehead Chub and I found myself pulling out some nice ones. But the day was meandering onward and I had spots I wanted to get so I ditched Flat Shoals Creek and headed south towards Germanton.
I finally ended at Town Fork Creek, a sort of secret mecca for multi-species guys. If Fair Bluff was the Great Pyramid of Giza then Town Fork Creek was the pyramid after that one. It was lesser known but renowned by multi-species guys for the sheer diversity of the creek. It was rumored to hold such rare species such as Roanoke Logperch (Percina rex) and Rustyside Sucker (Thoburnia hamiltoni). I arrived at the creek with pretty high hopes. The water level even looked pretty good for fishing.
I pulled up to the shady bridge, parked without crossing and started fishing, immediately getting bites. It was Rustyside Sucker after Rustyside Sucker! Roanoke Logperch too! In less than five minutes the FBI were on my tail for catching them, but it was worth it.
I wish all that could be true, but in fairness it was Crescent Shiner after Crescent Shiner after Crescent Shiner after Bluehead Chub after Crescent Shiner. Now it was a lifer and they were all beautiful, but it would have been refreshing to catch something else. I fished for a while, different pools, tactics, et cetera and nothing changing the steady flow of shiners and chubs. I left eventually and got dumped on on the way home to Raleigh, a bit perturbed but overall happy, a lifer is a lifer no matter what.
I had posted my proud lifer on the Holy Grail of multi-species fishing, the always amazing FishBrain prior to leaving and was waiting for all the congratulations comments and praise for such a cool, niche species.
The first and only comment was "great bass bait!"
Total Species Count:
Crescent Shiner (Luxilus cerasinus): 14
Bluehead Chub (Nocomis leptocephalus): 17