Barbs and Backlashes

Catch and release makes a difference by whitetips
September 8, 2010, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

I followed a discussion on the Nebraska Fish & Game Association Fishing Forum that posed some interesting questions, .  A couple of those questions sent me searching into some of our data and I would like to share that with you.

First of all, let me post a disclaimer.  I know it is not fair that I have access to our Master Angler data and I cannot share that database with other anglers.  We have recently re-done our entire web page and at some time we would like to have our Master Angler database available to the public.  We are not there yet, so for now you are going to have to put up with what I can share with you.  Sorry, but please be patient.

Let me take you back in time.  Our angler recognition program or Master Angler program has always been extremely popular.  In fact Nebraska’s Master Angler program is one of the largest angler recognition programs in the country.  Years ago Nebraska anglers had to take their trophy catches to scales to have them certified for master angler awards.  If you wanted a Master Angler certificate, you kept the fish.  Angler attitudes have changed over the years and that was reflected in our Master Angler program in 1986 when in addition to the qualifying minimum weights, minimum lengths were established that could be used to qualify largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskie, pike, trout and walleye for master angler awards.  Anglers could then measure those 9 species of fish, release those fish and still qualify for a master angler award.

Largemouth bass have always been one of the most popular fish in Nebraska’s Master Angler Program.  Many years more largemouth bass are entered for master angler awards than any other fish (largemouths have to weigh a minimum of 5 pounds if kept to qualify for the award; measure 20 inches long to qualify if immediately released).    The percentage of master angler largemouth bass that have been released has steadily increased over the years.

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Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock by whitetips
June 8, 2010, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

A few thoughts have been running through my mind the past few days; I think I have finally put them together . . .

I watched “Expedition Great White” on the National Geographic Channel over the weekend,  WOW!  In case you did not see it, there is a team of anglers, fisheries/marine biologists and others capturing great white sharks so they can be fitted with satellite transmitters for research, for tracking the movements of those great predators.  They capture the sharks on hook and line using circle hooks as big as your arm, and the sharks break some of the hooks!!!!  The hooks are tied on ropes with a chain leader and tuna heads or whole tuna are used for bait (cut bait works, I’m telling ya!).  When they hook a shark they are played by boat, the rope is held by anglers in the boat, no rods or reels are used, and they use a series of large floats on the line to aid in keeping the shark near the surface and to help tire it (“I never saw one take down two barrels”).  Once the sharks are played, and it takes them as long as an hour for the biggest sharks, they are towed next to a ship that has a platform in the water that can be lifted once the shark is over the platform.  When the shark is landed they irrigate its gills with a hose to keep water running over the gills as they collect data, take blood samples and attach the satellite transmitter to the dorsal fin.  Now these guys are working with live, great white sharks up to 20 feet long, I am guessing those sharks weighed over 1,000 pounds, maybe up to 2,000 pounds, and they are able to do all their data collection and release the fish in less than 20 minutes!

Over the weekend I also picked up an issue of Muskie magazine I had laying around the house (it was the February 2010 issue).  In there was an article that included a time-line and photos of an angler landing and releasing a 44-inch muskie while fishing alone in a boat.  From the time that muskie was put in the net until it was released was just a little less than 8 minutes.  The muskie never left the water during that time except for 52 seconds while the fish was lifted, cradled in a horizontal position, and pictures taken by an angler in another boat.

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Where I’ve Been, June 1, 2010 by whitetips
June 1, 2010, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , , , ,

The long weekend is over, trying to get caught up with “stuff” back in the office today.  So let me give you a quick report of where I have been, what I have been doing and what I have been catching; will try to go into more detail later in the week.

A little over a week ago I mentioned that we were entering one of the best periods of the year to go fishing, .  Well how about it?  Since last Wednesday I have fished at least a little bit 5 of the last 6 days.  I did not fish all day on any one of those days, but spent at least a few hours fishing on every one of those days.  I made the statement that we were entering a period of time where the fishing would be good for a variety of species.  In the past 6 days my partners and I have caught bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, flathead catfish, white crappie, black crappie and northern pike.  How’s that for variety?  I continue to “beat the drum” about Nebraska being “The mixed bag capitol of the world” and 10 fish species in 5 days qualifies!  I am sure we could have caught more species if we had fished a few more different bodies of water.

I have always loved the Interstate 80 lakes in central Nebraska.  I grew up in North Platte, and at that time we never had a boat larger than a square-stern canoe.  We spent a lot of time fishing interstate lakes.  Those waters are other waters where I just get the feeling that I am “back home” whenever I get the chance to spend some time fishing them.  Maybe later in the week I will expand on some of my interstate lake/pit fishing strategies, but here I will concentrate on a quick report and showing off some pictures.

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Catch & Release by whitetips
May 14, 2010, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I made a statement in last Wednesday’s blog post, “Catch and release is a fact of life for all Nebraska anglers”, .  Don’t believe me?  Check out the mural on the floor of the Rotunda in Nebraska’s state capitol building, .

If that guy ain’t releasing a big bass he just caught, then I do not have a clue what he is doing!  You can go see for yourself, catch & release of big fish is engrained in the floor of our state capitol!

Have a good weekend!

Fish Handling by whitetips
May 12, 2010, 10:31 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

Catch and release is a fact of life for all Nebraska anglers.  You will either catch fish that you voluntarily release or you will be fishing on waters where regulations require you to release fish.  If you are not convinced, do me a favor and take a few minutes to read this, .  Regardless of the motivations, the benefits of releasing fish will never be realized if the fish that are caught and released perish from improper handling.  So let me throw out some of my ideas on the best way to handle fish and get them back in the water with the best possible chance to survive.

First of all, I will tell you that landing the fish as quickly as possible, handling them as little as possible, and getting them back in the water as soon as possible pretty much sums it up.  That rule is the basis for everything else I am going to say.  For example, I am NOT a fan of catching fish on light tackle just for the sake of catching them on light tackle.  Yes, in some fishing situations you will have to “tackle down” to lighter lines and more natural presentations in order to get fish to bite.  In those situations you gotta do what you gotta do.  But you should try to use tackle that is heavy enough to control the fish you catch, because you do NOT want to spend 20 minutes or longer landing a big fish on light line.  I know it happens, I know it can be done, but try to use tackle that will allow you to do the job effectively and efficiently by landing fish as quickly as possible.

Years ago I would have told you that landing nets were hard on fish and if you wanted to release a fish you should try to land it without a landing net.  I do not believe that is the case anymore.  I have always been a fan of the rubber mesh nets or at least knotless mesh that is rubber-coated or treated.  There are a variety of nets made by a variety of manufacturers specifically for fish that are to be released, , , .  Landing nets are simply the quickest way to land a fish and control it.  In addition once the fish are landed, they can be left in the net, in the water, while the hooks are removed and the camera is readied for a picture if wanted.  Handling of the fish can be reduced to as little as possible with the proper use of a good landing net.

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Some things to think about by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
June 3, 2009, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

I love it when anglers/outdoors folks take time to discuss and think about some important issues.  I have been following some discussions on the Nebraska Fish & Game Association forum recently and if I may let me add some comments.

First of all, on the topic of catch & release fishing or selective harvest, this article originally appeared in NEBRASKAland magazine (June 2008).  If I may be so bold, I would suggest that should be required reading for any angler in today’s world.

Secondly, a related article just appeared in the June 2009 NEBRASKAland . Continue reading