Barbs and Backlashes

Updates; March 31, 2010 by whitetips
March 31, 2010, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , ,

It has been a busy week, lots going on, but I will get a quick post up here with updates on several different topics.

Lake Sampling Results

Many are aware of the annual fishing forecasts that we publish, .  That information is invaluable to us as fisheries managers, and as an angler I can tell you it is also extremely useful.  You better believe I study those graphs every year and plan my fishing strategies accordingly.  If you like that sort of thing, if you want even more data on your favorite Nebraska waters, then you also need to check this out, .  What you will find on that webpage, in most cases, are reports for individual bodies of water.  Those reports include the same sampling information that is included in the annual fishing forecasts but instead is information specific for each body of water and usually includes several years of data for that body of water.  You can study those reports and get an even better idea of trends in the fish populations, which of course are trends that are reflected in fishing success.  There is not a lot of text in those sampling reports, but there is some that will give you some thoughts about the challenges of managing those fisheries.

Bowling Lake

Do not know if they have the pump going by now, but an update I heard last week was that the City of Lincoln was going to start the pump at Bowling Lake.  Water levels at Bowling will gradually seep down over time and there will be no pumping during the winter.  Every spring the water level at Bowling will be down a little bit, and every spring they will get the equipment ready to go and start pumping again.  If water is not going back in there right now, it should be soon.

Wehrspann and Zorinsky Crappie Regulations

I could ramble on for several paragraphs about the challenges of managing crappies.  I am not going to do that right now, but if you hear me refer to the “crappie conundrum” then you know it is coming.  The March 2010 issue of In-Fisherman magazine had an excellent article written by Steve Quinn on this very subject.  Anyway, I digress, one approach we have used to manage crappies in heavily-fished reservoirs in Omaha has been to have a 10-inch minimum length limit most of the year.  On heavily-fished waters in eastern Nebraska, crappies can be harvested to the point where they almost disappear, so they need some protection from over-harvest.  On the other hand, crappies can reproduce very successfully in small to medium-size, flood-control reservoirs.  A healthy population of predator fish is critical to controlling crappie numbers, but some thinning from anglers will not hurt.  I said all of that to say this–most of the year, crappies in Wehrpsann and Zorinsky reservoirs in Omaha are protected with a 10-inch minimum length limit, that is most of the year EXCEPT FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL.  Starting tomorrow, anglers can harvest crappies of any size from Wehrspann and Zorinsky.  Daily bag limits still apply and that would be 10-panfish per angler, per day on both waters.  With the weather we have had this week, there should be some very catchable crappies, go get ’em.  Look for protected areas, areas where the water can warm a few degrees, look for some shallow water cover like brushpiles or fallen trees, use a bobber and float a live minnow or small jig in there and see what will bite.

Outdoor Nebraska

Outdoor Nebraska is a “newspaper” published by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission a couple of times each year.  The spring/summer edition has been posted and if you like to fish, there are some stories there you will find interesting .  If you do not like to fish, well, shame on you, but there is plenty of other stuff there you will like too!

The Spawn is On

Every spring I am asked dozens of times when the walleyes will spawn?  Or, will the spawn be late this year because of the long winter we had?  Or the weather has warmed up this week will the walleyes be spawning, will it be over?  Forgive my sarcasm, but my “pat answer” is April 1 walleyes will be spawning in Nebraska.  Depending on the species and the environment, there are several variables that can “cue” spawning behavior.  Water temperature, water conditions, flow rates, weather, moon phase, etc., etc., etc. can all have an influence.  But after observing the walleye spawn on several Nebraska waters for a number of years, I have come to the conclusion that photoperiod or the length of daylight is one of the primary cues that triggers the walleye spawn.  For that reason the spawn occurs about the same time every year.  Sure, it will vary a little bit from year to year, and from one water body to another, but April 1 the walleyes will be spawning.

Well, guess what, tomorrow is April 1 and that ain’t no “April Fools”.  I have even managed to dry off a few male walleyes myself this week, and oh yeah, they are ready to spawn.

Now this discussion comes up every year, I have already answered a couple, three e-mails this year.  So if you have heard this “speech” from me, just ignore it.  Here goes . . . we have no statewide closed season during the walleye spawn because there is no biological reason to do so.  Fish are very prolific and it is not necessary to protect every female in a population in order to produce more than enough small walleyes to maintain that population.  Folks like to fish in early spring and many folks like to fish for walleyes in early spring.  As long as they pursue those fish legally (dip-netting and snagging fish are illegal!), we want folks to fish and we want to offer as many fishing opportunities as possible.

Any fish that is spawning is difficult to catch because they have other things on their little minds.  During the spawn walleyes in Nebraska waters will concentrate on the limited spawning habitats our waters provide.  If only a fraction of those spawning walleyes will bite, there are still enough biters to make it worth the effort.  If you want to catch walleyes during the spawn period, go ahead; tossing Rapalas after dark is probably the most popular technique.  Try throwing some jigs especially early or late in the day or perhaps all day long on windy, cloudy or rainy days.  By far most of the walleyes caught during the spawn will be males and as long as they can be legally harvested (make sure you know the regulations, ), take a couple home for a meal of fresh walleye.  If you catch one of the big females, snap a photo or two and turn her loose for someone else to catch!  If you want a mount, I would highly recommend a graphite replica because they are better quality mounts and will look good a lot longer than the old skin mounts anyway, .


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is all good stuff, you make it hard 2 make up my mind what i want 2 do. My main goal is to catch some eater crappie or male walleyes but a couple female walleye pics would be nice. Is it even worth fishing the omaha lakes or are my best results in the west?

Comment by nick


Let me answer your question this way: if you can make a trip “out west”, do it. Our larger reservoirs “out west” have a lot more walleyes. But, I will also tell you the best time to fish is whenever you have time, and if you have a few hours to fish waters close to home, then GO FISH! No, the Omaha area reservoirs do not have tremendous walleye populations, but there are walleyes there, and there are a few big walleyes caught every spring even from the Omaha area reservoirs.

I travel around the state as much as I can, but I live in Lincoln and I spend a lot of time fishing close to home. I still fish for walleyes in eastern Nebraska, you bet! I just do not expect to go catch the numbers of walleyes that I know I can on our better walleye habitats “out west”.

Daryl B.

Comment by whitetips

“Out West”!!! That’s a kind of funny! Never considered myself a “Westerner”. Here in the “Central” I start fishing open water Walleyes March 12th. Some of my largest Walleye come at this time. They are pre-spawn, hungry and really attack a lure. Dark thirty and darker are my favorite times to go after them. The only downer is the cold, but I soon warm up when I see those eyes glowing back at me. Fish eyes and not people eyes either. I seldom bump into any other fishermen, even in the spots that will be crowded just a few weeks later.

Comment by Steve Trybus

Central and western Nebraska are where some of our best walleye fisheries in the state are located. There are many of us “back east” that wish we could trade spots with you! Ha.

Good point on starting early. I always tell folks that fish in the middle of spawning really are not interested in feeding–they have other things on their mind. But, as you have described, you can get into some pre-spawn fish that definitely want to take on a little extra energy just before the rigors of spawning.

Oh, and the walleye fishing gets really good after the spawn too. (wink)

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Isn’t it a shame, you can only get them on crankbaits at night…..

Comment by Ray Cera

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