Something rocketed off the bottom and hit my arm, hard. It looked like a tessellated darter, but didn’t act like a tessellated. Was this fish a hyperactive johnny or tessellated darter, or something less common? My imagination went wild as I fumbled for my camera to try to get a shot, to prove my potential rare find.
This was the spot of the last sighting of a Maryland darter in 1988. I don’t know what a live Maryland darter looks like. I wouldn’t know one if I saw one, or if one hit me in the arm. But I know what isn’t a common darter, and this fish didn’t act like a common one. I am not saying this was a Maryland darter. I am saying the possibility exists that they are still here, in spite of numerous electrofishing attempts to find them. There is still the possibility, no matter how remote. Each time I get into the water here, I hang on the hope that I will see a darter that isn’t the normal, and that maybe it is a Maryland.
The fish disappeared into the labyrinth of crevasses that define this rapid and I couldn’t relocate it, in spite of multiple searches of the area. The darter was probably watching my futile attempt. I wound up enjoying the rock canyons formed by large boulders that push the water in chaotic directions. I wished I got a photo, but was happy for the experience. Sometimes it’s the architecture, and the promise of exploration rather than a discovery that brings the adrenaline. Sometimes it’s the hope of finding an endangered darter.