Barbs and Backlashes

AAaaaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! by whitetips
October 8, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

Here is the thing about having a blog; every once in a while I see or read something that absolutely fires me up.  It just happened again this morning.  With the blog I can immediately “vent” and in doing so hopefully convey a very important message.  Here goes . . .

This is a picture that was posted on the Nebraska Fish and Game Association’s Fishing forum this morning, .

The picture is a little blurry and it may not be apparent what is going on there, so let me explain and you will see why this absolutely fries me.

What you see is someone using a cast net.  Cast nets can legally be used on a few Nebraska reservoirs during July through November.  You can see all the baitfish regulations and especially cast net regulations in the 2010 Fishing Guide .

The violator pictured above is NOT on one of the waters where cast nets can be used.  That picture was taken below Gavins Point Dam.  I will bet you a box full of crankbaits that genius pictured above would not know a small, young-of-the-year bighead or silver carp if you smacked him in the forehead with one.  All of the fish in that cast net probably look like bait to him.  So, he collects a bucket full of bait below Gavins Point Dam, uses that bait who knows where, and when he is done fishing dumps his bait bucket in the water where he was fishing.  Next thing you know we have Asian carp in a bunch more waters where we do not want them.

We have tried to keep baitfish regulations that allow folks to collect their own bait while preventing the spread of invasive species and diseases.  All of that works ONLY if anglers are responsible and know and follow the regulations.  When I see a picture like the one above I wonder if we should not just outlaw all collection of baitfish for personal use?

So here is my plea.  In today’s world most folks have cell phones with them even when they are fishing.  If you see a violation, AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU SEE SOMEONE USING A CAST NET BELOW GAVINS POINT DAM, grab the cell phone and make a call!  The Wildlife Crimestoppers number is 800-742-7627.  Phone numbers for every conservation officer in the state are listed in the 2010 Fishing Guide I linked to above.  Find the phone number for the local conservation officer and call it.  Keep calling it.  If you cannot reach that conservation officer call the regional supervisor.  Keep calling.  If you cannot reach the regional supervisor, call the law enforcement administrators in the Lincoln office.  Keep calling.  Call the local Sheriffs office and they can contact a conservation officer.  Keep calling.  We do not have a lot of conservation officers in the state and they very much rely on responsible outdoors people to be their eyes and ears in the field.  If you see violations, call them and keep calling them!

By the way, I have called conservation officers a few times myself about folks illegally using cast nets.  I believe in every case someone ended up receiving a ticket and losing their cast net.

A fish pox on everyone that transfers fish from one body of water into another public body of water!


Some announcements, September 16, 2010 by whitetips
September 16, 2010, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Fishing, Hunting | Tags: , , , ,

I know of a few “goings-on” that I thought I would share with you in case you have not heard about them.

The first would be the Missouri River Outdoor Expo at Ponca State Park this weekend, .  This has become the premiere outdoor expo in Nebraska.  Take a look at the website I linked to and you will be impressed; there will be hands-on rifle, shotgun, and muzzleloader shooting; hands-on archery; hunting, trapping, and fishing demonstrations; dog demonstrations; camping; cooking; boating and much, much more.  Missouri River fish will be on display and there will be tours on the river.  If you live in northeast Nebraska, you have to plan on a day at Ponca this weekend.  I will go even further and suggest this would be well worth the drive from other parts of the state as well; Ponca is an easy drive up I-29 from Omaha and Lincoln.

I would tell you I will see you there, but I have an adventure “out west” I will be on this weekend. (wink)

Continue reading

Crayfish by whitetips
July 6, 2010, 3:43 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

Alright, from the very beginning I am telling you this blog post is not going to mention fish.  It is going to mention another aquatic organism, an important prey for fish in many habitats, and the more anyone knows about that, the better angler they will be.  And, this will allow me to make a point or two in the process.  So, read on, you might learn something.

I am not a crayfish biologist and I will not proclaim to be any kind of crayfish expert.  However, I have had to learn a thing or two about Nebraska crayfish and let me share some of that with you.  Here is the only website I know of that has information specific to Nebraska crayfish, .  There are 4 species of crayfish listed for Nebraska, but I believe by far two species are most common; the calico or papershell crayfish, Orconectes immunis and the virile or northern crayfish, Orconectes virilis.  Another great website that I have found for crayfish is a Missouri website, but it lists a lot of different species of crayfish including those found in Nebraska waters, .

calico or papershell crayfish

Virile or northern crayfish (note: I do not name 'em)

Crayfish are common throughout Nebraska and can be found in a variety of habitats; rivers, streams, pits, ponds, natural lakes, and reservoirs.  You will find crayfish in almost all of our waters and most of them will be one of these two common species.  The other species that are listed as having been documented in Nebraska waters are less common and confined to limited habitats.  Regardless of the species or the habitat, crayfish can be an important prey item for a variety of fish living in those waters.  Panfish like bluegills and yellow perch love small crayfish as well as larger predator fish like largemouth and smallmouth bass.  At times even walleyes will prey on crayfish and the largest predator fish in Nebraska waters, flathead catfish, often start their predatory careers eating crayfish.

Unfortunately, there are exotic species of crayfish that can cause problems in waters where they are not native.  One of those crayfish species that has caused problems in some parts of the United States is the rusty crayfish, Orconectes rusticus.  Rusty crayfish are native to the Ohio River basin in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee  but have been introduced to many other “Midwestern” states.  Once introduced into waters outside their native range, rusty crayfish have caused some major problems.  Rusty crayfish have literally elminated aquatic vegetation from some waters and thus dramatically altered the aquatic habitat and food chain.  They also out-compete native crayfish and may have significant impacts on other aquatic macroinvertebrates (e.g. aquatic insects).  In some cases it is suspected that rusty crayfish prey on fish eggs.  So, once again this is another example of an exotic species that we would like to keep out of our waters.

So, let me tell you a couple of stories about rusty crayfish in Nebraska.  The first one started several years ago when a knowledgeable and concerned angler called me to report that he had purchased some rusty crayfish from an Omaha bait shop.  The angler sent me some photographs and from the little bit I knew at the time they sure looked like rusty crayfish.  My son and I then went on a little “under-cover” operation.  We drove over to the bait shop in question and I sent Daniel in to purchase a couple dozen crayfish; I used my son because I did not want to tip anyone off by going into the bait shop and having someone recognize me.  To make a long story shorter, yes, they were rusty crayfish and yes, an investigation resulted.  In the end, the bait shop owner was out nothing more than a tankful of crayfish, but the supplier who imported those crayfish into the state ended up with some hefty fines.

That was the last we heard of rusty crayfish in Nebraska until just a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, we have now confirmed the presence of rusty crayfish in a small pond in Omaha.  I am going to guess that a bait bucket with some rusty crayfish in it got dumped there once upon a time.  There is no way crayfish can end up in a new state, in a new body of water, unless there was some human “assistance” involved.  So once again, let me remind folks that it is illegal to dump your bait into the “lake” when you are done fishing, and it is a very bad idea to dump any unused bait or even the water from your bait bucket into any body of water.

For more information on invasive species, and what you should be doing to prevent their spread, go here, .  If you want more details on the rusty crayfish, here is a short paper, Rusty crayfish Fact sheet .  We simply do not know what impacts invasive species may have in our aquatic habitats; in some cases they may end up to be nothing, but in all cases we would be better off not finding out!

If you see one of these, a rusty crayfish, in any Nebraska waters, let me know about it. Note the rusty spot on the side; that is characteristic of rusty crayfish.

Odds and Ends, June 24, 2010 by whitetips
June 24, 2010, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , ,

I have found a few things on the internet that I thought would be of interest;  let me share them with you.


No this does not deal with Nebraska waters, but it has to do with a neat fish that can be found in some Nebraska waters.  I have been following some research updates in Muskie magazine, the magazine of Muskies Inc., and recently someone showed me that I could follow a blog on this particular research project, “Project Noble Beast”, .  These guys are doing some really cool research and I am betting some of you will find their blog to be very interesting!

By the way, let me put this plug in again, if you are a muskie angler or are interested in becoming one, we have a Muskies Inc. chapter in Nebraska and you need to join!


Gar get a “bad rap”.  We have shortnose and longnose gar in Nebraska waters, and once in a great while a spotted gar shows up.  Those fish are found in the Missouri River and in the lower reaches of Missouri River tributaries.  Sandpits and other waters that can at times be connected to those rivers may have some gar in them as well.  With the high waters we are having in many Nebraska rivers right now, there are going to be some gar show up in a lot of places in the coming weeks.

Gar are predators; take one look at their mouth full of pointy-sharp teeth and you will know that.  For some reason there are folks that hate gar because they believe the gar eat all the other fish, especially when they believe the gar eat more desirable sport fish.  They are predators, but gar are less effective predators than largemouth bass or walleyes and no one ever seems to hate bass or walleyes for eating other fish.  I believe part of the hatred for gar comes when folks discover an isolated water where all the fish are gone except the gar and then they assume the gar ate everything else.  Likely that did not happen at all.  Gar can survive in waters with very little if any dissolved oxygen; they literally gulp air at the surface in order to survive in those waters.  With little or no oxygen in the water, the gar may be the only thing that survive; the gar did not eat all of the other fish, they simply were the only ones capable of surviving low oxygen levels.

Beyond the menacing look, I believe gar also have a bad reputation because they have scales and skin that are like armor.  Believe it or not, they can be very good table fare if you can just get through that armor.  I will never forget the first time my Gramps caught a gar while we were camping and fishing on Lewis & Clark Reservoir.  Gramps was going to eat that fish and proceeded to attempt cleaning that gar with his fillet knife and a screw-driver.  I do not know what ever happened to the gar, but I do know that we never had any fried gar that night.  Seriously, a pair of tin snips is needed to clean a gar, but once you get past the scaly armor they actually have some very firm, white, palatable meat.  Do not try eating their eggs though, they are poisonous.

Anyway, I am rambling.  If I have piqued your interest, here is a great website on everything gar and gar-fishing, .  Take a look, there are some interesting ideas on that website and they have a great sense of humor!

Nebraska's hook & line state record shortnose gar.

Asian Carp

You will continue to hear more and more about Asian carp.  You might as well hear some more . . . .

“Shanghai bass” for all!

Aquatic Nuisance Species Alert by whitetips
June 7, 2010, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I just learned that there is a possibility that some tournament anglers from Nebraska may be traveling this week from some out-of-state waters infested with zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species back to Nebraska waters.  I do not know the details, do not know how many anglers may be involved, but this is a great opportunity to remind everyone about this issue and that you should be VERY aware of it and be very aware of what you should do to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species.  Here is an excellent website you should take the time to become familiar with, .

Zebra Mussel

Clean, Drain and Dry!

Some announcements, June 4, 2010 by whitetips
June 4, 2010, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

I have nothing exciting, just wanted to get a quick post up before the weekend.

I am going to mention a couple of upcoming public meetings that you might be interested in attending.

The first one occurs next week.  A management plan for aquatic nuisance species in Nebraska is being developed.  You can review that plan by following the link in the flyer and you can attend a meeting in Lincoln next week if you would like to provide public comment on that plan.

ANS Plan Flyer

The second request for public comment is coming from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they review their operation of the Missouri River reservoirs.  Now, all I have is a link to a short article that I saw in the Omaha World Herald, .  If you look at that article it tells you nothing but the dates and cities where meetings are being held this summer.  In other words it tells you nothing.  Keep your eyes and ears open for more details on the times and locations of those meetings.  I will tell you this, if you are interested in fish & wildlife and outdoor recreation you should be very interested in how the Missouri River reservoirs and the Missouri River itself are managed.  You can bet all the other interests will make their wants and desires known; speak up for the fish & wildlife and outdoor recreation too!

Have a good weekend!

Some updates by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
November 13, 2009, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

It has been a busy day.  I wanted to get a blog post up before the weekend.  This one will include a couple of different topics.

Zebra Mussels

Many of you know about the zebra mussel infestation of the Base Lake at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue.  Many of you are also aware that efforts were made to eradicate that population of zebra mussels.  There has been a final report produced detailing that successful eradication effort.  That report is not available on-line, so I am going to copy and paste a couple of sections of interest here.  This is taken from the Final Summary Report Zebra Mussel Eradication Project, Lake Offutt Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.  I believe the report was prepared by the URS Group, which I believe was the consulting firm that performed the eradication.  This report was just completed, November 2009.  Anyway here is the executive summary from that report:

Zebra mussels are an invasive species from Eurasia that were introduced in Lake St. Clair, in the Great Lakes region in 1988. The ability of zebra mussels to attach to hard surfaces, their ability to live for extended periods out of water, and the small size of their larvae (veligers) allow them to be transported unknowingly on recreational boats, trailers, and bait buckets, and has contributed to their rapid range expansion. Within four years after being introduced in Lake St. Clair, zebra mussels had become established in all of the Great Lakes as well as the Arkansas, Cumberland, Hudson, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee River systems.

It is believed that zebra mussels gained access to Lake Offutt when a boat or boat trailer that had been used on a water body infested with zebra mussels was transported and unloaded into Lake Offutt. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Lake Offutt in April 2006. This was the first confirmed reproducing population of zebra mussels in the state of Nebraska. The Zebra Mussel Working Group was formed to discuss  treatment options and preventative measures and included representatives from government agencies and private stakeholders. Offutt Air Force Base (AFB), in cooperation with the Zebra Mussel Working Group, determined that treating the lake with copper sulfate would be the most feasible treatment method with the greatest potential for successful eradication.

Offutt AFB contracted URS Group, Inc. (URS) to treat Lake Offutt in an attempt to eradicate zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha). An United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Special Local Need Label was acquired in order to treat the lake with a sufficient concentration of copper sulfate to eradicate zebra mussels (1 part per million [ppm] lake-wide copper concentration). Copper Sulfate was applied in two treatments to Lake Offutt over 30- hour periods on 17 and 18 September 2008 and again on 7 and 8 April 2009. Post application monitoring was performed in four categories: 1) water quality, 2) adult zebra mussels sampling, 3) larval zebra mussels sampling, and 4) fish mortality. Thus far no zebra mussels have been detected in Lake Offutt since the first treatment was applied.

And here is another section that will be of particular interest to anglers.


Copper sulfate was applied to Lake Offutt at a concentration of 1 ppm elemental copper.  Although copper sulfate is an approved chemical that can be applied in the aquatic environment for the control of aquatic weeds and snails, many previous applications were either at lower application rates or were used as spot treatment for control of nuisance aquatic weeds. Some fish mortality was expected since copper is known to be toxic to certain fish at lower concentrations under various conditions. However, it was not known which species would be affected or to what extent due to differing sensitivity or exposures to the chemical.

Fish mortality occurred following both the 2008 and 2009 copper sulfate treatments, and extended over a prolonged period in both events. Table 3-5 lists the 21 fish species killed following the copper sulfate treatments. Table 3-6 provides the estimated weight of dead fish collected as well as the time period of mortality. As stated previously, the Special Local Need Label issued by the USEPA required that all dead fish be picked up and disposed until no dead fish were found during a 48-hour period. Dead fish were picked up for approximately 5 weeks following both the 2008 and 2009 treatments and buried in an area adjacent to the lake. Both the species composition and the poundage of fished killed varied between the two treatments.

In 2008, dead fish were evident starting on 18 September 2008 (during the second day of the copper sulfate application). Dead fish removal started immediately following the completion of the application of the copper sulfate and continued for approximately 5 weeks. During this period, approximately 38,500 pounds of dead fish were collected (Table 3-6). This quantity of fish killed equates to approximately 320 pounds of fish per acre. The vast majority (approximately 72 percent by weight) of dead fish recovered in 2008 were buffalo (bigmouth and smallmouth). Other species that were killed in sizable numbers included common carp, grass carp, bighead carp, white perch, freshwater drum, and gizzard shad. Smaller quantities of game fish species (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, paddlefish, black bullhead, flathead catfish, channel catfish, crappie, and walleye/saugeye) were also killed in 2008. As will be discussed in the following paragraphs, approximately 97 percent of the fish killed (by weight) were non-game fish and less than 0.2 percent was prized game fish (bass, catfish, walleye/saugeye, and crappie).

In 2009, distressed fish were observed on 8 April 2009, during the second day of the copper sulfate application. Collection of dead fish started on 9 April 2009 and continued until 15 May 2009. Approximately 3,000 pounds of dead fish were collected and buried. The 2009 treatment resulted in an approximately 26 pounds per acre of fish being killed of which almost 86 percent were non-game species. The majority of the fish collected were buffalo (bigmouth and smallmouth) and common carp. Other species that were collected in fairly significant numbers were freshwater drum, bighead carp, and crappie. The majority of crappie that was collected died within the first two weeks after treatment. In 2009 prized game fish (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish walleye/saugeye, and crappie) comprised approximately 10 percent of the poundage killed.

In summary, it was apparent that some species of fish were much more susceptible to copper sulfate than other species and the period of mortality is shown on Table 3-5. Based on the fish collected, the most susceptible species included gizzard shad, common carp, bigmouth buffalo, smallmouth buffalo, bighead carp, walleye/saugeye, and freshwater drum. In 2009, an estimated 3,000 pounds of fish were killed and, similar to the 2008 event, the majority of species affected were the non-game species (mostly buffalo and common carp). However, the overall mortality rate was drastically lower in 2009. The biomass killed following the 2008 treatment (approximately 320 pounds of fish per acre) may have had major influence on the quantity of fish remaining in the lake in 2009. Another disparity between the years is that a larger number of crappie were killed in 2009 (approximately 600 individuals). Only one new species (bluegill) was collected in 2009. Two species (paddlefish and black bullhead), were collected in 2008, but not in 2009. In 2009 there were fewer gizzard shad, white perch, walleye/saugeye, and freshwater drum. In 2009 the precise periods of mortality by species was not as pronounced as it was in 2008. In summary, the two copper sulfate treatments resulted in approximately 1,500 pounds of dead fish being removed from the lake, of which over 40,000 pounds (97 %) werenon-game and invasive fish species and approximately 325 pounds (less than 1 %) were prizedgame fish species.

There is more in that report, and I wish I could just post a link to the whole thing, but those are the high points, those most interesting for anglers.  For more information on invasive species in Nebraska, please check out this website, !

Lawrence Youngsman

Lawrence Youngsman is the name that has been given to the new reservoir on West Dodge in Omaha.  I know lots of folks are wondering about the status of this fishery and when the gates will be open.  The City of Omaha has had the area closed to finish developing the area and they initially intended to complete that work by this fall.  The latest update I have heard is that they still have some work to do and have had some erosion problems that they are still addressing.  The target date for an official opening is now next spring.

That is boring, no stories of big fish, but I thought those would be of interest.  Have a good weekend and every chance you get GO FISH!