Fish Family Grand Slam

This past weekend I accomplished something that isn’t all that uncommon. I caught a wild brook trout, a wild rainbow trout, and a wild brown trout, in the same county. Granted they were two different streams that provided the fish, but they were all wild. It was the “Pennsylvania Wild Trout Grand Slam” so to speak. The only native that was missing was the Lake Trout, Salvelinus namaycush. As I released the wild brown back into the environment where he was spawned, it got me thinking, how hard would it be to catch all the members of other families in the same county, or watershed or some other geographically defined area? Which county or waterbody would you go to?

To catch three of the four trout in Pennsylvania the answer to the question is relatively easy. Go anywhere there is a stocked stream and you are likely to fulfill the goal. If the brook, brown and rainbows are to be wild, the question gets a little more difficult. To catch all four Erie County – and by extension Lake Erie is probably the best bet, though I have yet to hear of a brook trout coming from Lake Erie.

Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush

Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis

Brown Trout Salmo trutta

Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss

Excluding lakers, the counties where I would go to catch the other three wild trout would be Cumberland, Westmoreland, Franklin and Somerset.

What about the other families of fish?  Where would you go to catch all the members of the sunfish family Centrarchidae?  There are 30 species of sunfishes found in North America. To be sure, not all of them live in Pennsylvania. So I have abbreviated the list, to just those that are common in the Keystone State.

Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus

White Crappie Pomoxis annularis

Rock Bass Ambloplites rupestris

Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides

Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu

Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus

Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus

Redear Sunfish Lepomis microlophus

Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus

Longear Sunfish Lepomis megalotis

Redbreast Sunfish Lepomis auritus

It might not be possible to find all of the species in one county or one drainage, but the two counties I would consider would be Huntingdon, at Lake Raystown, or Tioga with Cowanesque, Hammond and Hills Creek lakes leading the likely places. The Susquehanna River below Sunbury is also considered.

The perch family, Percidae might be the easiest list to fill. Three species are that you have to consider in this category: walleye, yellow perch, and sauger.

Walleye Sander vitreus

Yellow Perch Perca flavescens

Sauger Sander canadensis

I’ll leave out the other members of the family Percidae which includes the darters. I suspect I would have to go to somewhere in the Ohio River drainage to catch all of them. The Allegheny River on the Westmoreland / Allegheny County line would be a good place to start, or even a little farther upstream where the Kiskiminetas enters the Allegheny in Armstrong County.

The family Moronidae includes Striped Bass, White Bass and White Perch. This could be a tough one as their natural ranges do not overlap.

Striped Bass Morone saxatilis

White Bass Morone chrysops

White Perch Morone Americana

I would be inclined to go to the Delaware River for these.

For shad the lower Susquehanna or the Delaware River would have to be the choice

Shad, the members of the family Clupeidae, are difficult to find in Pennsylvania. The lower Susquehanna River in Lancaster or York county would be my choice to find the two prevalent species, though I wouldn’t rule out the Delaware River.

American Shad Alosa sapidissima

Hickory Shad Alosa mediocris

The pike family might be the most difficult grand slam to achieve in Pennsylvania.

Last but not least, and probably the hardest to catch all four species is the family Esocidae – the Pike Family. This family includes:

 

 

Grass or Redfin Pickerel Esox americanus

Chain Pickerel Esox niger

Northern Pike Esox Lucius

Muskellunge Esox masquinongy

I would probably go to northwestern Pennsylvania for this quest. The French Creek drainage would be a good starting point. Also the Allegheny Reservoir (a.k.a. Kinzua Lake) is a likely starting point. I would also consider Tioga County, though finding a northern pike there may be a bit problematic.

I have not included any of the minnow family, or suckers, drum or other fish that may from time to time show up such as Pacific salmon.

I am curious about your thoughts on this. And by the way, all the species mentioned can be caught on a fly. A “Fish Family Grand Slam on a Fly” or a “Fish Family Grand Slam on the Same Fly”; now there is a challenge.

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