On Tuesday, October 7th, we drove to Cove City, NC in search of ironcolor (Notropis chalybaeus) and dusky (Notropis cummingsae) shiners.
A coworker had pointed out a few creeks in the area to us that looked suitable for collecting, and after some research, and an hour and a half drive, we were pleasantly surprised. The main creek running through this area is Core Creek (even though Google calls is Grape Creek), which was our first stop this day. The creek itself was at a very low water level, and was a coarse sand bottom punctuated with chest deep pools.
We managed largemouth bass, black crappie, tessellated darter, redbreast sunfish, bluegill, dusky shiner, and a fair number of shrimp and crayfish.
Since ironcolor and dusky shiners are so difficult to distinguish in the field, we kept a bunch of them and systematically identified each individual. In this case, they were all dusky shiners. After a few photographs, we moved on to our next site.
Our next site was Grape Creek, just below the confluence with Core Creek.
Although Grape Creek wasn’t much to look at, it held a surprising variety of fish species.
In our first pull of the seine, we landed: pirate perch, warmouth, bluegill, redear sunfish, mosquitofish, dusky shiner, redbreast sunfish, crappie, and a flier. Not bad for a little puddle really. Because we had already photographed a majority of those fishes, we only saved the redear.
After crossing the road, we seined one more time on the backside of the creek, and although substantially deeper, we were able to catch another incredibly diverse group. This haul contained: redear sunfish, bluegill, redbreast, flier, black crappie, mosquitofish, and creek chubsuckers. The creek chubsuckers weren’t new to us, even though they were unexpected, but adult creek chub suckers were new. Up until this point we had only encountered and photographed juveniles, and the adults were a bit of a challenge due to their size.
By this point it was starting to get dark, so we packed up and headed home. All things considered, this unassuming creek was definitely worth the effort to sample, and worth a revisit in the future.