In early December I was given the opportunity to join my girlfriend's family on their annual Christmas trip to North Carolina. Of course, I jumped on the offer to get to spend some time with them as well as hopefully catch a few new species ;) It was also nice to get away from the Canadian winter, although the South was unusually cold this season.
Given the "cold" temperatures, the fishing was quite difficult. That being said, I still managed to find a lot of new species and got to try out some new equipment I received as Christmas presents. Namely, a new photo tank and a Peterson's guide. Ended up with a grand total of 20 lifers; 11 of which were on hook & line! I even had to break ice to catch some of them given night temperatures dropping to almost -10C.
Because this was more of a family trip and not an adventuring one, I'll simply list the fish caught instead of telling the story chronologically. Besides fishing, I got to try playing disc golf for the first time and enjoyed some Southern food and culture. Thank you to my girlfriend's grandparents for hosting us and to her grandfather for lending me his truck to go explore new streams!
I believe this is the smallest species I've caught so far; was very happy to catch one before I realized that they were absolutely everywhere!
EDIT: Wrong again, turns out this is a Fantail Darter! (I thought it was a Carolina Fantail Darter)
First cyprinid of the trip, and in my opinion the most beautiful I've ever caught. Those red fins are absolutely stunning! Wish I could keep some in my aquariums at home...
Apparently this one can be quite frustrating to find so I'm glad to have caught it in my new dipnet.
Another pretty common species, it was cool to catch my first Nocomis! I would love to see a spawning male with the obvious blue head.
It seems I'm very lucky to have caught this fish on hook & line, they're not supposed to go for bait too often. Getting it to bite wasn't even that difficult; it went right for a small chunk of worm. Sometimes fish are weird haha!
Finally, my first Cyprinella species!
This one was very high on my list of fish I wanted to catch in NC as it is quite rare in QC. Kinda disappointed I didn't get any decent pictures of it though :/
These guys were very common most places I explored.
I love the way darters look in the photo tank, nothing special to say about this guy though.
Pretty sure this is the rarest fish I've ever caught, it is only found in one lake in the world! (Lake Waccamaw)
In my opinion, this is the best picture in my new photo tank. This guy doesn't look quite like most Piedmont Darters but there aren't any other similar species in the area.
Biggest fish of the trip, was hoping to catch some Smallmouth Buffalo but the cold weather shut that bite down.
These guys schooled in huge numbers and were very aggressive.
Difficult to get a 100% ID on this guy but we believe C. nivea is most likely. There is also the chance of it being a Greenfin Shiner.
One of the cooler fish I caught, almost looked like it belonged in a cave or something. I caught it in a tunnel under a highway so that was kind of fitting :)
This may be the least rosy Rosyside Dace ever, I was unfortunate to not have caught one with the bright red slash on its side. Still neat-looking!
So these are supposed to be one of the most common Lepomis in the streams where I was fishing but it took me forever to catch one! Really happy to have this beautiful specimen though :)
This was one of the other species I really wanted to catch. I just think they're so cool with their big mouths; they look like a cross between a bass and a sunfish. These have been found in the Richelieu river but not in any targetable quantity as far as I know.
The final species of the trip and the first of 2018! Always fun to catch new Ictalurids :)
Overall, this was a great trip and I can't wait to get back and explore more areas of the state, hopefully in warmer weather! Big thanks to all of the members of the NANFA Facebook group that helped me identify many of these species, it would have been impossible for me otherwise. There are simply too many species different from the ones I'm used to. A special thanks to Tim Aldridge who showed me a lot of cool spots to try around the state!