Exploring Texas (gars, pygmy sunfish, bowfin and more!)

EwwThatsItchy

TL;DR I get really excited about some probably rather common fish.

I had the opportunity to tag along as a student/ equipment assistant on a museum collecting expedition to east Texas, and got to see some incredible fish in the sandy creeks, murky rivers and blackwater sloughs of the region.

Our methods included electrofishing, long seines and dip nets, as well as all three in conjunction. Here are some of our highlights!

One of our first collecting efforts was in a shallow blackwater slough. On a preliminary scouting trip, a fellow student and I spotted a massive bowfin with it's fins bloodied and tattered, we wondered if it was a nest building male, fins torn by pushing jagged sticks, or perhaps more theatrically, had survived a close call with one of the local alligators.


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Although we ended up unable to catch this fish, we found several slough darters at the site. Being from the Northeast U.S, this was my first "colorful" darter, and although being shocked and handled stressed this individual out quite a bit, you can still see some of the green spots!

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in a deeper slough, we caught a few absolutely stunning breeding male long ear sunfish

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as well as a pair of spotted gar! (we released these guys as our prof didn't bring big enough collecting jars)

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We also spend hours hunting the vegetated areas of the slough for pygmy sunfish, amid aquatic plains of Bacopa, longleaf pondweed and unidentifiable mosses, we dragged our nets in search of the fish. However, we mostly pulled up aquatic insects, mosquitofish, and a few pirate perch. After expanding our search we eventually found our target, a single male banded pygmy sunfish in a vegetated ditch along a dirt road!

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Our next site was a vegetated, sandy bottomed stream. Pirate perch, red-spotted sunfish, spotted bass, pickerel, Varied Notropis species and most interesting to me, a western starhead topminnow!

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That's it for now, and if you have any question, feel free to ask!
 

BigManAquatics

Oh yeah, gar are everywhere!!! I catch at least 2 different kinds in the rivers and creeks up here somewhat regularly. And yeah, it is that time of year a lot of fish are starting to spawn, especially members of the sunfish family.
 

Redshark1

Thanks I enjoyed your report.
 

Blacksheep1

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
 

Random Great Thread!

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