On the road the next morning, we drove past what seemed to be either a graveyard or breeding ground of vending machines. Hard to tell with these ones.
After the heavy rain last night, we weren’t sure what to expect as we pulled up to our next fishing spot. We were amazed when we saw the water was still quite clear and very fishable.
As I fished the faster pools for cardinal shiners, Ken searched for plateau darters. Once again, Ken found the darters and guided me to one of my own. Thanks Ken!
We fished the deeper pools for shiners and found our target.
Some of the cardinal shiners were displaying their striking spawning colours.
In addition to a rock bass and hornyhead chub, I also came across two more new species at this spot.
Our next spot was a culvert area in another small Ozarkian town.
While Ken once again searched for our target darter species, I caught a few minnows. Aside from more southern redbelly dace, I caught a shiner that ended up being different when I checked range maps.
As I tried to catch my lifer Ozark darter, my bait was continuously assaulted by Ozark sculpins. After trying and trying to catch even one sculpin back home in Ontario, it sure was strange to catch so many here!
Eventually the sculpin left me alone.
On-route to our next spot for elusive fish, I was graced with an elusive orange-flavoured milkshake from McDonalds. Why is this not always an option?!
After driving past over 20-something hours of farmland over the past day or so, I was also fairly glad not to see any more farms. Our drive took us past a few quaint woodland views.
Our next fishing spot was a treat to behold.
First on the line was a new species of sunfish, and a fairly bullish male one to boot!
It was great to see most of our catches lit up in spawning colours. According to Ben, this hornyhead chub may eventually be split into a new species.
But for now, it’s just a sweet-looking specimen.
Ken was going to town on our chief target of the spot: Ozark bass. It took me a lot longer just to find a single one.
As night fell we fished intently for new species of madtoms. We found one of our targets.
With tidy black stripes, this little guy was much better dressed than myself.
Ken caught a monstrous yellow bullhead and I got a smaller one of my own to update my life list photo.
We fished long into the night in search of slender madtom, but only caught more banded sculpins and checkered madtoms. Exhausted and semi-defeated, we crashed in the car that night.