Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fresh in the Finger Lakes: Day 4

Day 4 was spent at Buttermilk Falls, another breathtaking place.

We originally wanted to go to Buttermilk and another state park, but the other one was closed.

I had a bit of time before we had to leave, and my parents and sister decided to take a hike up the mountain. However, the terrain was steep, and my grandparents were unable to hike it. So I stayed to accompany them as they rested in the shade by the creek. That decision also had a bonus in my part... I was able to fish! The creek was chock full of micros... some old, and more importantly, some new.

Right at the bat I hooked up with dozens of eastern blacknose dace and creek chubs. They are just so aggressive! I took a photo of the one below, it seemed a bit odd without any prominent horizontal stripe (unlike most creek chubs in that pool), but it turns out it was just a creek chub,nothing special.

It was time to focus on that aforementioned "new" part of the fish population in that tiny pool (more like a puddle, honestly. As soon as I saw them, I knew what they were: longnose dace. I would have been all set, if it wasn't for the immense hordes of tiny creek chubs and eastern blacknose dace. I figured that all I had to do was get my bait stationary on the bottom and the longnose, having a highly subterminal, or possibly even inferior mouth, would take immediate notice. That proved to be troublesome, however. I cannot stress the viciousness of creek chubs and blacknose dace. They are the bowfin and piranha (respectively) of small northeastern streams.

What ended up proving successful was a ton of split shot (in microfishing terms), and a lot of patience. Soon enough, an opportunity presented itself and I was able to hook a tiny longnose dace. Alas, when the moment of truth came to lift it up into my grasp, it fell off the tiny point of the tanago hook. AAARRGGHH!!!! Never has there been so much frustration over a two inch fish.

It was then that I noticed the mother of all longnose dace - a beast - no, a monstrosity of a longnose dace. This fish stood out in the water, being larger than all the other dace. But that was not what made it a standout. The fish was ghostly pale and had no mottling, unlike any other longnose dace in the stream. From above, it looked almost white.

The appearance of all the other dace. Photo credit.

Suddenly, the dace was Moby Dace, the palm-sized white whale, and I was Captain Ahab, the microfisherman hell bent on its capture and its addition to my lifelist.

I became obsessed, even addressing the dace directly... "From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned dace." Onlookers, curious as to what was happening, exclaimed, "That ain't no dace; that a great white god!" upon seeing the majestic snout and caudal peduncle of Moby Dace. Desire brewed and boiled from the depths of my soul. I then turned to my grandparents and the crowd: "God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dace to the lifelist!"

As fixated as I was, my campaign to capture my white whale was much shorter. The hunt for Moby Dace was only obstructed by chubs and blacknoses, and before I knew it, Moby Dace had rushed over to my bait and promptly sucked it up. I set the tanago hook, and grabbed him as soon as he left the surface.

Moby Dace was vanquished, the battle over (it lasted an entire 15 minutes!).

Longnose dace, species #55!

 The mother of all longnose dace...giant caudal peduncle and all.

As I watched him kick away, I knew that he wasn't just the namesake of the white whale - He was its living incarnation. Moby Dace got to live another day, and I didn't get dragged down to the depths of Buttermilk Creek.

Fishing with a live blacknose dace produced this dark rock bass, which, true to its name, shot out from under a rock. I had only seen it a couple times when it stole my chubs and dace. It seemed to big for the puddle of a pool I had caught it from...

A colorful rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus). I should keep a crustacean lifelist...

My grandma gets in on the micro bite! Her first fish, a baby bluegill. Note the exemplified puddle... Moby Dace will hopefully still swim in those murky depths...

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