I am back in the office. Sigh. It was REALLY HARD to come back to work this morning. I have been debating how to blog about it all; considered splitting it into a couple, three blog posts, but decided I am going to give it all to you in “one fell swoop”. Get comfortable, grab your favorite beverage, let me tell you some stories . . . .
First of all, let me tell you this . . . the weather was hot “out west” too. And I know it is a cliche, but it is true, you get out west and it is a “dry heat”; the humidity levels are much lower. The afternoons were HOT, but if you kept drinking fluids it was bearable; then the mornings and evenings were gorgeous! I got home last night and here in Lincoln at midnight it was 81 degrees F with a heat index of 95! I wondered what in the world I was doing back east where it was miserable?
We have been spending a long summer weekend with my wife’s side of the family each year for several years now; it has become a family tradition. We look forward to our time together every summer. We have rotated to different locations around Nebraska, Niobrara State Park (SP), Ponca SP, Omaha, but our favorite, the one we keep going back to is Ft. Robinson SP. Now let me turn this into a little “commercial”. I grew up in western Nebraska; was born in Alliance, graduated from high school in North Platte. My job now has me living in Lincoln and we are happy in eastern Nebraska. But I know there are a darned lot of people in this end of the state who have no clue what is “out west”! I understand that if you live in eastern Nebraska it is a closer drive to Iowa or Kansas City or even Minneapolis than it is to far western Nebraska. But, in my opinion, if you consider yourself a “Nebraskan” you should at least once take a trip out west and see the great diversity and beauty this state has to offer! All the time I talk to folks who have lived in eastern Nebraska their entire lives and once they finally see the western end of the state they proclaim that they had no idea we had anything like that in Nebraska. We do, it is special, you have to see it, let me share some with you.
We saw tons of wildlife: prairie dogs (a few through a rifle scope one afternoon), pronghorns, more big whitetail bucks one evening than you could shake a stick at, mule deer, a rattlesnake (it was already dead, seems to be a theme for me this year, all the rattlesnakes I find are dead), and some elk. We did not see any bighorn sheep on this trip, but have on previous trips “out west”.
OK, enough of the pretty pictures, HOW ABOUT THE FISHING??????
Yes, we fished when we had time. Spent a couple of evenings fishing on the trip out and back from Ft. Robinson; all we could catch was these funny-looking brown bass.
Those are the biggest ones we caught, but not all of what we caught. I am going to be “coy” here for a minute; they were caught from public water and I suspect many of you will be able to figure out where that was. If you cannot, I will tell you , but you will have to swear on a box of Rapalas to release every one of those smallmouth bass if you go there and catch some. We do not have a lot of opportunities to catch smallmouth bass in Nebraska, especially smallmouths > 18 inches. Call me selfish if you want, but I believe we need to catch & release all of those fish so we continue to have some opportunities to catch them.
Ft. Robinson Trout Slam
There are a lot of good fishing opportunities near Ft. Robinson. There are a number of ponds where a person can catch some largemouth bass, put & take rainbows, and a variety of panfish. But when I get to that part of the state I have trout on my mind. Northern and western parts of Nebraska are the parts of the state where we have cold-water streams that can support trout year-round and when I get a chance to be in those parts of the state I try to spend as much time exploring those cold-water streams and catching some trout. In the Ft. Robinson area I have caught trout from Bordeaux Creek, Chadron Creek, East Ash Creek, West Ash Creek, Squaw Creek, Soldier’s Creek (middle and south forks), and the White River. There are lots of places out there that I have not had time enough to explore, yet. Admittedly, most of those Pine Ridge streams are small and the trout are not large, but . . . trout are some of the prettiest fish on earth and those streams run through some of the prettiest parts of Nebraska. I love every minute I get to explore and fish those waters and even though most of the fish are not large, occasionally there are some surprises (a couple of examples here, https://barbsandbacklashes.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/out-of-the-office-august-3-2010/ ).
We have rainbow, brown and brook trout in Nebraska waters, waters that can support trout year-round. In the Ft. Robinson area you can catch all three species, so when we get out there my son and I have the goal of catching the Ft. Robinson Trout Slam.
Yeah, yeah, I know, all of my son’s fish look bigger than mine. Whatever. The kid beats me to all the best spots anymore. However, I kicked his butt on the rainbows, caught way more of them than he did.
Some stories about the trout. First of all, those fish all came from public waters as well; some of those waters have taken some hiking and exploring to find the best spots, but they are out there and I am sure there are more spots than we have had the time to find. I will keep exploring! If you need some hints on where to go you must get a copy of Trout Fishing in Nebraska’s Streams. That publication is NOT on-line, so e-mail me your U.S. Postal mailing address and I will put a couple copies in the mail for you. If you need some more hints on places to go, I can provide those too.
I am not a fly-fishing purist by any means; my philosophy is to use the best tool for the job, the best tool for catching fish. I mentioned that many of the Pine Ridge waters are relatively small and there ain’t no room to do any fly-casting. I have caught trout on the fly from the Pine Ridge waters, but most of the time a guy is dipping and dabbling baits into likely looking spots. In the cramped corners with all the brush I can dip and dabble with a spinning rod easier than a fly rod. If you want a clue on how we caught many of those fish, I “called my shot” here, https://barbsandbacklashes.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/hopper-time/ . (wink)
We did not catch a lot of brown trout. I had my brookie and rainbow and needed the brown to complete my Ft. Robinson Trout Slam. I knew of a pool that has never let me down for a brown trout and I told my son I was sneaking over to it to catch my brown trout. Snuck over there, dropped my line in and let it drift for a few seconds and Viola! Got my brownie. That pool has never produced more than one fish for me, but has produced a nice brown trout every time I have fished it! I always release the brown trout I catch there and I wonder if I might be catching the same fish each time? Maybe, I am sure a new brownie could move in there too.
Anyway, that was our trip. I have more ideas running through my head that came to me while I was “out” and I will share more of those with you in the coming days. If you make a trip “out west” and want to complete your own Ft. Robinson Trout Slam, let me know if you need some tips. I hope you enjoy the pictures; I will spend a lot of time staring at them in the next few days, wishing that I was back out in “God’s Country”.
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