I had a fishing trip coming up soon, so I decided to wade the local creeks in search of some crawfish and creek chubs, armed with little jig and a chunk of beef. On the way to a pool, I happened to notice some tiny fish swimming around in a really small eddy, about 9 inches deep at its deepest point. A closer look revealed to me that they were some sort of darter, with some brilliantly colored males.
After I had collected enough bait, I went home and grabbed my tanago hooks, my Gulp! Worms, and went out to catch the darters, with about an hour to fish.
I returned to the little eddy to find the darters still there. I noticed a colorful spawning minnow there as well, and spent a little time trying to catch it. Unfortunately, it wanted nothing to do with the bait I had presented to it. So I shifted my attention to a darter. Those darters are really well camouflaged!
I learned that a darter usually wouldn't bite until the bait was placed right in front of it, then it would twitch forward, and decisively consume the entire hook and bait.
Lifer #40 (and my first darter) was on the line!
I caught 2 more, before it was time to leave. At home, I confirmed that these were tessellated darters with ease, as there are only 3 darter species in NJ. I really should explore my home waters more...