Barbs and Backlashes

Frog Migration by whitetips
September 27, 2010, 10:21 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , , , ,

I am sure you know that there are many species of birds that migrate through Nebraska; we also have butterflies that migrate, bats, fish, etc.  But you may never have realized that we have amphibian migrations as well, and if you like to catch fish in the fall, you need to be aware of the fall leopard frog migration.

I am not a herpetologist, so I am no expert when it comes to Nebraska’s amphibians and reptiles.  Most of what I know comes from this website, , and the recently published Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska, .  I have noticed more leopard frogs around the state this year and I believe that might be due to the increased precipitation and higher water levels we have had the past couple of years.  Nebraska actually has two species of leopard frog; the northern leopard frog,

and the plains leopard frog.

Obviously there are subtle differences between the two species, and if you are interested in distinguishing characteristics be sure to get the field guide that I recommended earlier.  From what I have read, the two species can hybridize as well which makes specific identification even more of a challenge.

The fish do not care.

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World Record Walleye by whitetips
September 7, 2010, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

There are two organizations that keep track of “world record” fish; the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame (“the Hall”), .  IGFA specializes in listing records for marine fish and fish from all over the world while the Hall specializes in records for North American freshwater fish.  Here in my office we receive the annual edition of the Hall’s world records and they also send out quarterly updates.  I found an interesting article in their most recent quarterly update and I want to share that with you here.

For years the Hall had recognized a 25-pound walleye caught from Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee as the all-tackle world’s record.  That fish was caught by Marby Harper in 1960.  As you can imagine, historic record fish were not quite the same as if those fish were caught today; record catches were not documented in the same way 50 years ago as they would be today.  In many cases those catches were valid, but since they were not documented as rigorously as they would have been if caught today, they are considered as good stories, but somewhat questionable as records.  I also believe folks have little appreciation for history; if something did not happen during their life time, then somehow it does not count, never happened, is just some story you read in a book (even the books themselves are becoming part of history).

There was one picture of the Marby Harper walleye and there were folks that cast doubts on the true size of that fish based on that one photograph.

The controversy surrounded the claim that Marby’s walleye was 41 inches long.  Doubters claimed that based on the size Marby’s hands in the photograph compared to the length of the fish, there was no way that fish could have measured 41 inches.  In 1996, based on those arguments and claims, the Hall removed Marby Harper’s fish as the all-tackle world’s record walleye.

This past spring the Hall reinstated the Marby Harper walleye as the all-tackle world’s record.  Why the reversal?  New documentation!  The Hall had found, or someone had produced additional photographs of the head of the walleye (after the fish was cleaned!), and a picture of Marby’s wife, Mary, holding the walleye.  Based on that and additional evidence including affidavits from a conservation officer involved in the official weighing and measuring of the fish, the Hall concluded that Marby’s fish was indeed 41 inches long and weighed 25 pounds!!!!!

So, if you want to know what world’s record walleye looks like, if you want to know what a 41-inch walleye looks like, in addition to the previous photo, here is the photograph of Mary Harper holding the fish.

WHAT A WALLEYE!  That record has “stood” for 50 years now.  There have been walleyes close to 20 pounds caught in recent years, are even a few others in excess of 20 pounds that have been documented, but nothing close to 25 pounds.  And you know what?  Somehow I think it is appropriate that record is pictured in a black & white photo.  Somehow it adds to the mystique, the history, the legend.  Will it ever be broken?  Who knows?  But you know what?  I am fine if it never is broken; in many ways walleye fishing today is as good or better than it ever was, but an old “black & white record” gives us something to shoot for!

This is not my story, I have shared just part of it.  I would highly recommend that you go here and read it for yourself, .

Go Fish, NOW! (May 2010) by whitetips
May 21, 2010, 11:35 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I fish 12 months out of the year, but I will tell you that spring is not my favorite time of the year to fish.  I know that is a shocking statement because everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and fish once spring rolls around.  I am too, but over the years I have found I have better success during other parts of the year.  Part of the reason for that is the behavior of many fish is influenced by spawning during the spring and that can actually make the fish harder to catch as they are less interested in feeding and more interested in other things during the spawn.  Another huge reason I prefer to fish at other times of the year is the schizophrenic weather we experience in the spring.  If you get a few days of stable, warming weather during the spring the fishing can take off, but just about the time you get onto some great fishing another spring cold front blows through and shuts ’em down.  Just last week there was snow in western Nebraska again this spring, and this has been a typical Nebraska spring of “up and down” weather.  Fishing reports throughout the state have reflected that.

If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I do not have much use for the typical “outdoor report”, .  My biggest reason for that is that is yesterday’s information; just because someone caught fish at a certain spot on a certain bait yesterday does not necessarily mean they are going to be caught there again tomorrow or next week.  My goal is to try to anticipate and predict prime times; that way an angler can take advantage of the best bites at the best times instead of showing up to hear “you shoulda been here yesterday!”

So, if you are still reading, listen up . . .

I am telling you, that the time is NOW!

Once we get into late May, the weather is usually a little more stable and the fishing begins to become more dependable.  Right now is one of the best times of the year to fish a variety of waters across Nebraska for a variety of species.  I am looking ahead a few days at the weather forecasts and it looks like we are going to have a period of days of relatively stable, warming weather, and I am predicting that will mean some great fishing in the days ahead.  If you do not know where to go, you have probably heard me refer to this so many times you are sick of it, but look here for some of the best waters in the state for a variety of species of fish, .  Look for one of the best waters for your favorite species and chances are good there will be some good fishing there in the next week and maybe longer.  If you need some more ideas you can go back and see I had a similar blog post last year about this time, .

Back to some fishing by whitetips
May 17, 2010, 11:19 am
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I do not know that I ever get enough of spring turkey hunting, but I have been easing away from the turkeys and mushrooms and back into full-throttle fishing mode here in the past week or two.  Let me share some thoughts about that . . . .

I do not own a boat; someday maybe, but for now I spend a lot of time in chest waders.  Yes, I take every opportunity I get to fish in a boat, and I spend some time every year paddling my old float tube around, but most of the time I am “boat-less”.  I say that because folks often assume that they need all the latest and greatest, and most equipment in order to catch fish.  Baloney.  Some of the very best anglers I know in Nebraska do not own boats!

Now if you want to catch some Nebraska walleyes, you have to pick the right times if you are going to be successful without a boat.  Many anglers assume that the walleye spawn in early April is the best chance they have to catch walleyes.  I will defend their right to fish during the spawn; there is no biological reason for not allowing fishing during the walleye spawn, but after doing a little fishing for pre-spawn walleyes, I find something else to pursue until the walleye spawn is finished.  Why do I do that?  Because I know that those walleyes really are not interested in feeding during the spawn period; they have other things on their minds.  There are so many adult walleyes that concentrate on the spawning habitats in our waters that if those fish really were feeding you would catch a walleye every cast.  Sure, some of those fish will bite, and with the concentration of fish you only have to get a small percentage to bite to make it worthwhile.  But, I would rather wait until the spawn is completed and those fish really start feeding.

That time is now.

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More on the walleye spawn by whitetips
April 15, 2010, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

Just a quick blog post here to show you a video clip about the 2010 walleye egg collections.  Ralph Wall does an excellent job of shooting video and we are getting more and more of these clips posted on YouTube, .

Thanks Ralph!

Big Walleye by whitetips
April 13, 2010, 11:35 am
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I know by now many folks have heard of the big walleye caught at McConaughy last week, so this is not “new” news.  But I have to say something about the 2nd largest walleye ever caught in Nebraska!

What a fish, what a healthy, healthy fish!  There were some details on the catch that ran in the Omaha World Herald over the weekend, .  And you may have seen some of these links before, but I am going to post them again because I have learned everytime there is something that gets folks attention you have new interest and there may be those who would be interested in even more information.  I discussed Nebraska record fish in a previous blog post, and there is some very interesting information on big walleyes in Nebraska, especially at Lake McConaughy here and here .

We had crews working at McConaughy last week collecting walleye eggs for our production of walleyes to stock around the state this year.  We collected walleye eggs from McConaughy, Sherman and Merritt reservoirs and stay tuned, I should have some more details on those efforts later this week.  The crews that worked McConaughy were absolutely amazed at the numbers and sizes of walleyes they collected.  There were a bunch of guys at McConaughy who have been collecting walleye eggs every spring for a lot of springs, and the numbers and sizes of walleyes they saw at McConaughy this spring was better than anything they have ever seen before.  Unfortunately, I was not able to get out there and see it for myself (darn!), but I have talked to a couple, three of the guys who were there and a couple of them were still cranked up about it here 4 days later!  Now understand that we do NOT weigh walleyes while we are collecting brood fish for our egg collections.  We do not want to handle those fish any more than we have to; catch ’em, hold ’em, collect eggs from ’em and turn ’em loose.  So, I cannot tell you that out of the 400+ female walleyes handled at McConaughy last week any of them were big enough to be a new state record fish.  No one has told me of any one individual fish that was so unbelievably big it had to be a new state record, but all of them have told me that they were blown away at the numbers of big female walleyes they saw and who knows?  One or two of those fish might have been just 3 ounces bigger than the big walleye that was caught last week!

Nebraska Walleye Association by whitetips
April 12, 2010, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , ,

Today I am going to brag on another Nebraska fishing organization, the Nebraska Walleye Association, .  I attended their meeting at the LaVista Cabelas yesterday.  Follow along here for a little bit while I explain what I was doing there.

I am a member of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, .  The American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the professional society for “pointy-headed” fish biologists and other professionals who work with fish and aquatic organisms and aquatic habitats.  Our Nebraska Chapter has members who work for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, a couple of the state’s power districts, Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality, and professors and students from at least three Nebraska universities.  The Nebraska Chapter AFS has some awards that our chapter presents to worthy recipients; you can see a description of those awards and past winners, .  Two of the awards given by the Nebraska Chapter AFS are professional awards, and the third is given in recognition of “outstanding contributions to fisheries and the conservation of Nebraska’s aquatic resources by an individual or a citizens group.”

This year the Outstanding Aquatic Resources Conservation Award was presented to the Nebraska Walleye Association.

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