Recently my family rented a house on Mustang Island at Port Aransas, Texas for a family outing. Mustang Island is a barrier island just north of and similar to the more famous Padre Island.
While there, I managed to arrange a quick collecting trip to two sites. The first was a bayside sand flat and the second a drainage ditch. The first was marine and the second freshwater.
In attendance were my wife (Susie), two sons (Carl and Nathan), two daughters (Cara and Susan), one son-in-law (Ky), and five grandchildren (Haley, Stella, Hannah, Sam, and Oliver). The grandchildren range from three to seven years old. All of them are avid collectors of everything from rocks to shells to fish and lizards. Absent were two daughters-in-law (Kathy and Megan) who opted out in order to relax sans children at the rented house. To each his own…
At the sand flat, while Nathan and Ky practiced with a cast net, Carl and I, with help from the grandkids, tried our hands with the seine net. It wasn’t very productive. We only caught five keepers, two male and three female sheepshead pupfish (Cyprinodon variegatus) out of the hundreds we could see. We got quite a few juvenile shrimp and some silversides and juvenile croakers and pinfish. All of which were released over the protests of the grandkids who have never caught something they wished to free.
The drainage ditch was much more productive. In just a single short pass with the seine net, we caught 32 sheepshead pupfish, 38 mollies (Poecilia latipinna), 10 Gambusia affinis, a juvenile diamond killifish (Adinia xenica), and two female golden topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus), a killifish that isn’t supposed to be found that far down the Texas coast. We stopped with one seine pass since I had gotten the mollies I wanted. I didn’t notice the two killifish until I got home. We’ll have to return to get mates for them.
I don’t collect many fish, but when I do I always collect in that general area. I wish I had found your blog earlier as we were absolutely stumped on a few species when collecting in a freshwater ditch in Rockport. We did wind up getting several nice Poecilia latipinna.
There are some nice killifish in that area, one of which isn’t supposed to be there, Fundulus chrysotus. I haven’t seen the Rockport Poecilia latipinna, but really do like the Mustang Island fish. Once the rains settle down some, I’ll be going down that way to do some more collecting.
If you want to find them in Rockport, try Tule creek. It is off of Highway 35 and feeds into Aransas Bay. It is easily accessible and frequently castnet for bait for fishing. We find that if you move upstream a bit you can find large schools of P. latpinna when streams aren’t swollen.
Do you ever encounter any crayfish? We were actually trying to find some Cambarellus ninae.
Tule Creek sounds like a good collecting spot. I’ll have to give it a try.
We often encounter crayfish, in fact, I saw many tunnels on the banks of the Guadalupe River near Tivoli last week when we manned the last checkpoint before the end of the Texas Water Safari. We also occasionally collect them in Coleto Creek on the boundary of Victoria and Goliad counties. Unfortunately, I don’t have any idea what species they are.