Seining in the Big Thicket


Upon waking on April 23, we a group of eight from Valley City State University made our way to the Big Sandy Creek. Our objective was to identify and collect species through seining. The group split into two teams and sampled different parts of the river. We seined and identified fish with the help of Dr. Casey Williams. After sampling the Big Sandy we sampled turkey creek.

At the Big Sandy, my team chose to sample upstream while the other team went down stream. I noticed a backwater area that seemed like it could be connected to the main creek during high water. We seined the backwater and after the first seine haul, I leaped with joy. In the bottom of the net was a pirate perch and warmouth (figure 1). Two of the coolest fish that we               


Figure 1    Warmouth and Pirate Perch Caught at the Big Sandy creek, 4/23/17

talked about in class were in the bottom of our net. The biggest tadpole I had ever seen also made an appearance in our net. We seined the same spot once again and on the second pass we collected a flier and some very beautiful sunfish (figure 2).After multiple passes in the backwater, we switched to seining the creek and found additional interesting fish species. Darters and shiners were quickly added to our pails. About 2 hours later, both groups met, identified fish and released the samples back to the Big Sandy. In the first spot, we caught 15 plus species of fish.                                                                                                                                                                                    


Figure 2   Sunfish caught at the Big Sandy creek Sandy Creek, 4/23/17                                                The diversity and ecology of streams in Texas differed greatly from those of North Dakota.The second spot on the Big Sandy  lead to many other amazing finds. My team seined an oxbow that yielded a red fin pickerel and a black stripped topminnow(Figure3). More species were added to our list and the other team caught a big spotted bass (figure 4). Backpack electro fish shocking was used at this site. Fish were shocked but the effectiveness of the shocking was in question The conductivity of the

Figure 3   Red Fin Pickerel and Black Stripped Topminnow caught at Big Sandy Creek, 4/23/17                                                                                                                  

water probably played a major role in the questionable effectiveness of the backpack shocker. At this stream, we added about ten more species to our list.

Cypress trees and fallen debris lined the Turkey creek. The river shaded by trees was cold.  Utilizing the backpack shocker in tandem with the seine provided sample collection. Seining proved to be very difficult, so the shocker did most of the work.

Figure 4   Spotted Bass caught at Big Sandy Creek, 4/23/17

Some unique sunfish were shocked in this site, including one of the most beautiful long eared sunfish that you will ever see (Figure5). However, our luck quickly changed from respectable to meager.Casey let out a warning that he had just spotted a cottonmouth. The rest the class retreated to higher ground to view it. He said jokingly, “Where there is one, there are many.” Not 5 seconds had passed when I heard a woman scream, I quickly turned around.


Figure 5   Long eared sunfish caught at Big Sandy Creek ,4/23/17

The scream came from Dalton, who had a 5 to 6-foot banded water snake mere feet from his foot. I leapt behind Dalton and used him as a human shield. My respect for snakes caused me to react in not such a heroic way. The snake slithered passed and that concluded our sampling for the day. We headed back to camp reminiscing about the day’s experience and listening to Snake Farm.

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