Micro Madness

One of the sites I frequent is called Non Traditional Fishing.  The forum on this site has about 100 members interested in many different facets of fishing.  One increasingly popular interest discussed there is fishing for fish that do not grow to over 16 ounces, or a pound.  The term Micro Fish has been coined to reference them. These fish are traditionally overlooked when the topic of fishing arises….and then usually only as bait!  The pursuit of these Micro Fish has a growing following, though still small (minute!) in comparison.  Though the numbers who fish for them are small, the number of fish species that fit the Micro definition are great.  Some are easy to catch but very many are difficult to locate and they often have very specific habitats and unique feeding behaviors.  One of the big challenges when catching them is actually identifying them…..because “all minnows look alike!”  Often one must resort to counting fin rays or lateral line scales and many times it requires researching geographic range information to eliminate what you thought were potential candidates for identification.  Obviously, digital cameras with good Macro capabilities are a must!  I recently built a small photo tank to assist in getting clear pictures for identification.

To satisfy the competitive nature of many of these Micro-fishermen and bring more recognition to the sport, Aaron, who originated the Non Traditional Fishing site, organized a three month competition called Micro Madness.  During the months of May, June and July, the registered competitors scramble to catch as many different species of Micro-fish as they can….all for bragging rights!

I made a quick trip this morning to a spot on Negro Creek, which is part of the Blackwater River drainage, to try and find the Blackbanded Darter that I have caught there before.  They were nowhere to be found, but I did manage to find some hungry Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) – male below and female above.  These Mosquitofish must have been doing their job quite well as I didn’t have too much trouble with mosquitoes, but those biting Yellow Flies drove me nuts!

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It don’t get no purdier than this…

Caught this Spotted Sunfish from Silver Creek in the City Park in Silverhill, AL  last night while searching for Micros.  I was sight fishing with my Soyokaze micro rod when I spotted him cruising in a small pool.  He was very hard to see against the black bottom and tannin stained water, but the slight white edges of his dorsal and caudal fins stood out as they gently rippled and waved. What a delight on the light rod and 6 feet of 7X tippet as line!  He was carefully released so he could spread those handsome genes!

A beach weekend

The Ladyfish were aggressive and provided great sport!

My wife and I stayed at the Gulf this weekend with family and we got a little fishing in.  We had a pretty strong South East wind Saturday which made things difficult, but the fish were active!  We caught enough Whiting for a nice meal Saturday night and they were great.  The Ladyfish (Elops saurus)were aggressive and provided for some great sport!

Some of the Gulf Whiting or Gulf Kingfish (Menticirrhus littoralis) were pretty good size, much larger than I’ve found in the past.  They are generally very plentiful along the Gulf Coast and frequently caught as they stay close to the waves and the beach.  I actually caught a Northern Kingfish (Menticirrhus saxatilis) with its long first dorsal ray, but failed to get a picture….

Early Sunday morning I returned to the beach in pursuit of the Florida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) and managed to catch two small ones along with several more Gulf Whiting.  The Pompano fight hard like the rest of their relatives, making for a very enjoyable encounter, especially on the light tackle I used.

California Contrasts

My work took me into Northern California this week.   One meeting was in Eureka, along the cool northern coast.  My drive from Eureka was south along the Eel River.  That afternoon drive gave me an opportunity to explore a few tributary creeks.  Salmon Creek flows pristinely east to the Eel and it was here that I found a new species for me, the California Roach, Lavinia symmetricus

The few pictures I took of the fish before releasing it have the Micro Madness background as I’m registered in a three month Micro fishing competition hosted by Non Traditional Fishing.

The balance of my trip was centered around Sacramento.  I found one evening to poke around outside the city and discovered this irrigation ditch, one of thousands, which did not look promising at all.  Surprisingly, I did find the tough Hitch, Lavinia exilicauda, surviving in the poor quality water .  This fish can actually grow to 14″ I learned.  It is a California Native that is losing ground due to the loss of spawning water,

Juvenile Bluegill

This is one of the first Bluegills I caught here in Lower Alabama while trying out some down-scaled equipment in October.  I was sight fishing with a size 20 hook and artificial bait.  Its home waters are the Styx River, a small, flowing stream with a sandy bottom and it is part of the Perdido River Complex.  I have yet to spend quality time in pursuit of the different micros it holds.  The habitat is much different from the slow moving stained waters of the upper tributaries of the Fish River and Blackwater River I’ve explored.