Species #54 — Common Rudd

Common Rudd look like dozens of other cyprinids, but they’re upturned mouths and relatively small dorsal fins distinctly separate them from goldfish.

Species: Common Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)
Location: Lake Pupuke, Auckland, New Zealand
Date: February 19, 2014

There aren’t many native freshwater fish in New Zealand. There aren’t many non-native ones, either.

Along with European Perch and Brown Trout, the Common Rudd is one of several species European settlers brought with them to the tiny island nation, and it has thrived where planted.

So, when I managed to entice a small, gold fish to inhale my jig after having already caught several European Perch, it was just icing on the cake.

It looked like a goldfish, but I knew it wasn’t. Namely, the dorsal fin was too small. I’d spent a lot of time researching what was available, and I quickly identified the Common Rudd I’d just caught.

Night fell hard, and the bite died, so David and I decided to head out.

***

We hopped into the car and made our way back to the park’s entrance only to find a locked gate across the road.

***

A call to David’s parents got us a ride, but our car was stuck there for the duration of the evening. We came back the next day, the car no worse for wear.

This was the last new entirely freshwater species I caught down under, but it would not be the last time I got locked in someplace while fishing.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #55 — Blue Cod.

 

Species #41 — Klamath River Lamprey

Klamath River Lamprey are otherworldly creatures that don’t quite look Earth-born.
Photo courtesy UC Davis.

Species: Klamath River Lamprey (Lampetra similis)
Location: Klamath River, Keno, OR
Date: June 3, 2012

Up until this point in my Blogosphere, every species has been captured directly on hook and line. Every fish was, in fact, legally captured after being hooked in the mouth. I know what you’re thinking, and this fish wasn’t snagged.

I typically count a new species as long as it was legally captured. For some species, hands and snag hooks are legal. For others, bow-and-arrow, spear, or even net suffice. For Species #41, neither hook nor hand caught it, but it was still a first.

***

Anyone who has fished the Klamath Basin has seen the telltale pockmarks and battle wounds our large native Redbands wear with honor. Many think these are leech marks, and while some of the minor marks might be, most are caused by another type of parasite: lampreys.

Lampreys are terrifying, parasitic eel-like creatures stranger than fiction that would seem to be more at home in the Cretaceous than modern times. They attach themselves to larger fish with a circular mouth full of irregular teeth that cleave to the host and allow the lamprey to suck blood.

Pacific Lamprey is a well-known species targeted by a number of specialty anglers. There are several lesser-known lampreys living in the Klamath Basin that are related to these larger, ocean-going menaces. These include the Klamath River and Miller Lake Lampreys — both of which are rarely caught by anglers — and some others that may or may not just be subspecies like the lampreys once found in Miller Creek below Gerber Dam.

Regardless, they are neither well-known nor hotly pursued fish.

***

Deep in the Klamath River Canyon, I landed another respectable Redband Trout. As I lifted the net, I noticed a black, writhing mass that I initially mistook for a leech. It was, in fact, a succubus of pescal proportions.

As the black form contorted in ways only a creature possessed could manage, I took a moment to try and photograph the horrendous monstrosity.

It didn’t really take, and I wasn’t too keen to hold it for any longer than necessary.

I let the fish go and with it, a case of the willies, knowing I’d just caught my first lamprey.

Like many other species I’ve caught, it wasn’t until the trip ended, and I’d had time to do some research that I learned its name: Klamath River Lamprey.

The picture came out blurry, but this is the first lamprey I caught.
These fish don’t cooperate for photos very well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

I’ve netted several with large trout since, and I even caught one by hand that was rooting for hapless prey at the waterline in Upper Klamath Lake. Though all have been 5-7 inches long, I know they get a lot bigger.

While microfishing for sculpins in Link River last month, I noticed a snake rooting in the substrate. Only it wasn’t a snake. This fish was every bit of 10 inches long and maybe larger. Its diameter was much larger than a 12-gauge shotshell, and it, too, was a lamprey.

These fish are officially protected, though anyone who has fished the lake and seen their mark will know they’re doing just fine.

I’ve wanted to try targeting them with a bloody piece of meat as I used for freshwater eels in New Zealand, but you’re not supposed to target protected fish, and there’s really no other justification for using red meat in local waters.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #42 — Grass Rockfish.

Species #22 — Northern Pikeminnow

When the dog days of summer hit, and the trout go dormant, fish for pikeminnows during mid-day to slake your thirst for hard-fighting fish.

Species: Northern Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis)
Location: Umatilla River, Pendleton, OR
Date: July 21, 2008

We’ve established I hate baseball.

I respect it and those who play it, but it bores me to tears. So, when my brother Gabe’s team made it to the Little League state championship tournament for a chance at the Little League World Series, I was excited for him. Until I wasn’t.

Then I moved on to other things.

I’d just been given a cell phone as a graduation present. It flipped open and closed which seemed kind of cool, but it looked ridiculous, and it was one more thing I had to carry in my pocket.

I knew these were popular already, but they seemed a little unnecessary for everyday use. Still, I took a few really grainy photos of the fish I caught shortly after ditching the game to fish the river behind the stadium.

At the time, I had no clue what the fish were, but those photos later helped me identify them as Northern Pikeminnow.

These underrated “trash fish” aren’t the most popular sport fish, but they fight well, hit the same things trout do, and can actually grow quite large. The specimens I caught that day were all 7-to-9 inches, though.

Oh well. A new species is always better than baseball.

#CaughtOvgard #SpeciesQuest

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #23 — Brown Bullhead.

Species #17 — Tui Chub

I remember catching chubs while fishing as a kid, but I didn’t keep records until 2004, and it was four years after that before I caught another of these underappreciated creatures.

Species: Tui Chub (Gila bicolor)
Location: Lost River
Date: April 13, 2008

Before I learned where to chase big trout in the spring, I used to drive out to Crystal Springs County Park during Spring Break or any time I had free from sports. Lonely Luke would fish for anything that would strike his lonely worm.

I’d camp on the bridge or off a point upstream of the bridge for a few hours and soak worms, rain or shine.

***

Dad had told me stories of how he used to fill his bike basket with plate-sized crappie there as a kid, and I went out with high hopes every trip. Sadly, they’d be crushed time after time.

My catch rate was miserable. I caught next-to-nothing, and I sure as Hell didn’t catch any crappie.

***

But one fine day, I caught a slimy, silver, trout-looking thing without teeth. It fought well, and it took me a moment to realize it was a chub.

I’d caught them before, but in the four years’ time since I’d decided to keep track of my fishing endeavors, and clearly it had been at least four years since I caught one.

While it technically wasn’t Species #17, for the sake of my list, it is.

And that, kids, is how to end a relatively uneventful story on a resounding low note.

#CaughtOvgard #SpeciesQuest

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #18 — Tui Chub.