On the 16th of July, we decided to sample a few nearby creeks for green sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus, to add to our collection of North Carolina fishes. Although a common fish, it is one that we have yet to photograph to our liking. There were a few waterbodies where we have landed green sunfish previously, and we decided to head to them to try our luck. As our luck would have it, the night of the 15th marked some of the heaviest rain that Wake county has seen in a while, which can be problematic for sampling.
Our first stop was at the Speight Branch Greenway, in Cary. This is a little greenway near the Crossroads Shopping Center, and although unassuming, has produced enormous green sunfish in past years.
Unfortunately, the water level was really high, and very turbid, a bad combination for fishing. We still managed the following fishes, through a combination of hook and line, and dipnetting:
We didn’t want to keep this young fish in our phototank for long, so just a quick snap and he was released.
Next we headed over to the Lassiter Mill Dam, with hopes of catching a few more common fishes that we still lacked photographs for. We knew our odds of being able to access the waters here were slim to none, thanks in part to the heavy rains the night before. What we weren’t expecting was the enormity of the water overflowing the damn, it was truly immense. Normally heavy rains will increase the current, overflow the damn, and create problems, but today there was absolutely no bank visible, it was in full flood stage. So we moved on.
From the dam, we decided to try out one more site where green sunfish were known to hang out, Kaplan Drive Park. Kaplan Drive Park is a small park located between the 440 and a residential area. It is also home to Simmons Branch creek, in which many green sunfish have been caught over the years. City ordinances prevent wading or trapping of any kind in the park, so we were left with hook and line fishing, which suited the habitat just fine.
Kaplan Drive Park stated producing green sunfishes on our first casts, and continued for the next hour as we searched for the best colored fish we could find.
It was about time to start photographing that I realized that I had left an important piece of photography hardware at home. So through a bit of photoshop, I was able to piece together a composite green sunfish. Not my best work, but it will do until we catch another.
Our next and final stop, was at a park about a mile from Kaplan Drive Park, Kentwood Park:
Kentwood Park is home to a creek who’s name I was unable to locate on any map. It flows from an unnamed lake to its North, and into Walnut Creek, and then into Lake Raleigh. It really is a beautiful creek, and seems quite secluded for being in the middle of the city. No new species were caught on this leg of the trip, but wading down the stream was very enjoyable. I want to note that there were shiners that eluded us in this creek, we caught a few glimpses of them, so it might be worth a second visit.
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