I'm a creature of habit, but I'd also like to think that I learn from my mistakes. At previous conferences I've wasted valuable fishing time by walking around trying to find somewhere to buy bait and licenses (see my post about Seattle WA and St. Paul MN). So in order to maximize valuable fishing time while in Little Rock, I came equipped this time with two fishing poles, an already-purchased fishing license, and even live bait! The airline people gave me quite the look when I told them there were live worms in my suitcase, but we made it! Now that I think about it, you could probably make a movie out of that - "Worms on a Plane" sounds like a promising title, or maybe "Wormnado"! ....no, you're right, that's too far.
I wasn't quite sure exactly what sort of fishing to expect when I got there since I wasn't able to find any fishing reports for the Arkansas River right in downtown Little Rock. So I brought a bunch of generic baits and an assortment of hooks ranging from large to REALLY tiny. It didn't take long before the new species started coming in!
|Green Sunfish - Species #91. I caught another one of these that was about 9 inches long - pretty big for this species - but of course that one flopped out of my hand before I could get a picture.|
|This massive specimen is a blacktail shiner - species #92! Also of note: I'm pretty sure this is the smallest fish I've ever caught!|
|This colorful little gem is a longear sunfish - species #93|
|If you're wondering why they're called longear sunfish, it's because because they have long ears...|
|This red colored one was my favorite one.|
|I think this one's a longear too though the coloration is quite different.|
|Note the long ear...|
|This one is called an orangespotted sunfish - species #94! And before you ask - it's because they have orange spots...|
|I know what you're thinking... this is obviously just a bluegill right? Nope. If you look at the "ear" you'll notice a tiny speck of red. So of course, this beast is called a... say it with me... redear sunfish. Creative eh? Species #95!|
|Species #96, the blackspotted topminnow. There were lots of these little guys cruising around just under the surface of the water. Their shape reminded me of little miniature pike - sans teeth of course.|
|Just another extreme closeup of a two inch fish!|
|Not the caliber of fish I was expecting on my big circle hook, but I'm not complaining! Yellow bass species #97!|
I have the curse and blessing of catching things I don't intend to catch when I'm trying to catch something else and catching things I intend to catch when I'm not fishing for them. If you understood that last sentence, you're way ahead of me... Anyway just before it was time for me to leave I was entertaining myself by trying to get some mystery species of fish swimming near the shore to bite, but unfortunately they were entertaining themselves by fastidiously ignoring every bait I had! After finally deciding it was a lost cause, I looked up at my other rod and tried to find my bobber. But there was no bobber! It was gone, and all the slack in my line was quickly leaving! I ran over and set the hook into what felt like a really solid fish - especially on such a tiny bait! The fish made a couple little runs and some powerful head-shakes, then started coming my way. My bobber finally surfaced about 30 feet from me so I knew the fish was close to the surface. I was excited to see what I had tied in to! However, I was not expecting what happened next. I thought it was maybe a big catfish or something, but instead, a big long beak full of teeth came out of the water followed by the body of a 4 foot jumping longnose gar! This was my dream fish for Arkansas! If I could have chosen one species to catch, this would be it!
Unfortunately though, that's where the story ends because as he jumped, my hook came flying out of his mouth. I was left on the shore crying and needing to change my shorts. Now that I think about it though, I was lucky to even have hooked him at all on such a tiny hook (definitely not typical gar tackle), let alone to have been able to fight him and see him jump right in front of me!
I realize that some of you may not know what a longnose gar is, so to give you an idea, here is a picture of the business end of one of these prehistoric fish:
|Now do you see why I needed to change my shorts? Photo credit www.fishing-headquarters.com|
One of these days maybe I'll learn to catch what I'm fishing for, and fish for what I catch; maybe not though, sometimes the surprises make it more fun!