View Full Version : Paint Rock River

08-22-2006, 09:31 AM
A while back I hiked down into the Walls of Jericho area at the headwaters of the Paint Rock River in Jackson County, Alabama, my homeland. I hoped to catch some smallmouth up there. Didn't see the first bass, but I caught quite a few strange fish that I've never seen before. They looked like a mix between a carp and a shiner and were pretty big in some cases, maybe a couple pounds. Fought like a bass, most even jumped a few times. Ugly critters, but endearing in the way any fish you catch usually is. I didn't have a camera with me, or I would post a shot of one. I caught them all on small wooly buggers. Anyone know what these things might have been? I figure it was some sort of endangered fish species that I probably helped along the path to extinction by damaging their slime coats or some such thing.


08-22-2006, 11:40 AM

08-22-2006, 12:31 PM
No, their mouths were large and on the fronts of their heads as opposed to the bottom like with suckers. If you can imagine the mouth of a really large shiner or shad on the body of a carp, that's about what they looked like. I know the upper Paint Rock is home to some rare and endangered species of shiners, but I don't know how to identify them. These weren't bottom feeders. If they weren't so ugly, they would be considered quite the game fish. Many of them launched their bodies out of the water in an attempt to engulf the wooly bugger as soon as it touched the water. Maybe some day when I feel like catching some ugly fish, I'll hike back down there with a camera and get a shot of these things.


08-23-2006, 09:11 PM
from your decription i think i know what your talking about. they are ugly but are a blast to catch. did they have little bumps on the top of there heads.

08-23-2006, 10:44 PM
This kind of thread excites me. Do you know what a freshwater drum is? Perhaps that? I am familiar with all the TN fish species, and if you work with me, we can figure it out.

08-24-2006, 09:38 AM
The fish you describe sounds like a freshwater drum or sometimes called a sheephead. You can go to the website www.nativefish.org and use their resource links to get a picture. Unfortunately, right now, everything is in the latin, scientic names. The drums' scientific name is Aplodinotus grunniens.

08-24-2006, 09:40 AM
My memory as to the exact features is fading a little. This happened a couple months ago. I don't remember bumps on their heads, but there could have been.

I am familiar with the freshwater drum. You can catch really large ones out of Guntersville Lake on occasion. If they were drum, they weren't the ones I am familiar with. Now I'm interested enough to make another hike down in there with a fly rod. Tell you what, since my memory isn't going to be good enough to figure this out (my strongest impression being it looked like a shad head on a carp body), I'll go back down there this weekend if I get the chance and try to capture a photo of one of these things.

Are you familiar with the Paint Rock River? It begins in Tennessee south of Winchester and flows through Jackson County, AL to eventually hit the Tennessee River in upper Wheeler lake. The Nature Conservancy bought a big chunk of land in the headwaters to protect the area because of so many rare species being present. Most of the area is now part of Skyline Wildlife Management Area. It's an interesting place. Any way, I'll try to get a photo. Hopefully, they'll still bite a wooly bugger.


08-26-2006, 10:49 PM

The fish with bumps on their heads that 14yearoldflyfisher was referring to are creek chubs, specifically the big males. They don't get 2 or 3 pounds, though. They look like this:


I've been down to Walls of Jericho on a hike, but didn't bother with a fishing rod. Now I may have to. I've never fished any of the Paint Rock River or tribs.

Some of the other fish you may have caught could have been redhorse species. Redhorse are suckers, and you said they didn't look like suckers. But here's a pic any way:


MAYBE somehow, some river herring, or a related species, got up that far during a spawn from Wheeler. They are usually fish of bigger rivers, but you never know. They look like this:


I'll bet you, if they WERE river herring, that you won't catch any this time of the year.

Keep us updated!

08-28-2006, 08:40 AM
Wasn't able to get down there this weekend, but I'll get down there within the next few weeks. Next weekend I'm planning on some trout fishing in the Tellico area, so it'll be after that. I doubt these fish are migratory types, but you never know. The more fish photos I've looked at, the more uncertain I am of exactly how they looked. The only way I'll be sure is to capture some photos. Best I can remember, their bodies (coloration and scales) looked like the redhorse, but their heads were different (mouth more on front of head as opposed to on the bottom). Defintitely not a drum though. Thanks for everyone's help! I'll post the photos as soon as I get them,