Species: Dixie Chub (Semotilus thoreauianus)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Date: April 22, 2018
Apart from some phenomenal tourist attractions such as the Civil Rights Museum and Coca Cola Headquarters, the mediocre attractions such as the Chik-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, and the blissfully above average Southern Food, Atlanta isn’t the best city.
It lives up the “Hotlanta” moniker, but that’s largely because, for a Southern city, it has almost no vegetation. It has no major rivers flowing through the city center, and the streams are limited.
Not only does this mean temperatures will be absurdly high, it means a visiting angler has severely limited options.
Even with a rental car, I struggled to find anything to fish for my one night off to do so on a work trip. I was limited to a 15- or 20-minute radius from the hotel, and that really cramped my style.
To make matters worse, I was there in the late spring, during the peak of the monsoon season, and the few rivers and streams I’d been turned onto by fellow Species Hunters like Ryan Crutchfield of FishMap.org were all blown out.
Torrential rainfall meant fishing even for micros — which is usually a slam-dunk when fishing new water — was out of the question.
I hiked and drove around for hours to the spots I’d been given, but as night fell, I began to take stock of my situation and realized I needed to grab dinner and get home, so I hopped into my rental car, sodden and saddened.
As I drove to my restaurant of choice (a Cajun restaurant because dammit, I wasn’t about to let the night be a total loss), I passed over a small stream. It made me stop and think, and after finding a parking lot at a nearby church, I hoofed it through the pouring rain a few hundred yards back down the highway.
Vaulting the guardrail, I climbed down under the bridge.
I had a headlamp on and hoped to find a sculpin or darter willing to play, but the stream, small though it was, was still high and not terribly clear.
Then, as luck would have it, I noticed a larger fish right up against the shore. It was some sort of Cyprinid, though I couldn’t identify it.
I grabbed the rod with an ultra-tiny spinner and threw it onto the bank, then dragged it into the water. The fish was territorial, and struck the gold blade with a lethargic and haphazard move.
The fight was pitiful and I quickly landed the chub. It had some horrible fungus or infection on its head, and as I snapped a picture for later identification, I cringed.
Miraculously, it swam away.
I would later reach out to local biologist who identified it initially as a “River Chub or Dixie Chub” depending on the drainage. Further research and a white paper helped me narrow it down: only Dixie Chub were found in that drainage.
And I had a new species that compared to the beautiful little dace in my last post, certainly would’ve never been asked on a hot date to prom. Even in Hotlanta.