Archive for April, 2013

Yes, Flies Over Nebraska is pleased to announce the completion of a successful “hit” on my fly fishing hit list… White Bass!

But long time readers of this blog might recall that I last summer announced that I had already “wacked” white bass clear back on September 30th…

Well, apparently I suck at identifying fish…

When I caught this white bass on Sunday, I was a little unsure if it was a white bass or a white perch. I was pretty sure it was a white bass; but I have read that white perch can have strips for a certain amount of time at the beginning of their life. The body shape was clearly different than the wider and heavier “white bass” that I caught last summer… I will come back to that last thought.

I posted these pictures of the fish on our local fishing forum and asked for some help identifying the fish…

After some initial waffling on the answer, I decided to post some pictures from this blog as a comparison. I posted one of a white perch, and these two pictures of the “white bass” that I caught last summer…

A local angler whose opinion I trust said that my fish from Sunday was definitely a white bass; but the above fish was not a white bass… it is a hybrid white bass x striped bass; or what we call in Nebraska a Wiper. This was later confirmed (with an appropriate disclaimer) by our state biologist who monitors the forum.

I have caught white bass before but not on a fly… I thought I had nabbed one last summer, but since it was not a white bass Sunday’s fish is technically my first white bass on a fly…

Which also means…

Flies Over Nebraska is proud to belatedly announce the capture of a target of opportunity, a Wiper last summer!

And that I suck at identifying fish…

At least I had the fish down to the right genus… Monroe. That’s apparently as good as I can get it.

The hit list has been appropriately updated.

See you correcting the record books…



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I saw something on the water that upset me yesterday. I decided to sleep on it and see if I was still mad…

And I am. So I am going to blog about it.

I am a big proponent of catch and release fishing. I think it is important to maintain the quality of a blue ribbon fishery, and to provide the greatest number of anglers a chance at trophy fish. It is a personal and ethical choice that I make; but I am not opposed to the selective harvest of fish. I would be lying if I said I have never harvested a fish. As long as the fish is handled as humanly as possible and consumed, I have no problem with someone harvesting fish.

But if you are going to release fish, you need to take darn good care of the fish that you catch. It is a commitment to the animal to minimize their suffering.

Yesterday, I saw something that horrified me.

When I catch a fish, there are three things that I focus on when that fish gets to hand: return it to the water as fast as possible, don’t hold it by the jaw if possible, and carefully release it back into the water (reviving it if necessary). Am I perfect? No, you can a few pictures on this blog of me lipping fish. Occasionally I will give a small fish a small toss to get it back in the water… only when I can’t reach down to place him in the water by hand. But, above and by far the most important to me is to get fish back in the water as soon as possible.

I watched a young man catch a nice bass yesterday; and he held that bass out of the water for about 4 minutes.

I managed to hook, play, land, photograph, and release three crappies while he held this fish out of the water. On top of all of this, he carried it around by the jaw the whole time.

I have run into this kid a couple of times; he’s nice enough. He is clearly good at catching fish; and by the quality of his tackle, he has spent as much bass fishing tackle as I have on fly tackle. I don’t think he is doing it on purpose or to mean sadistic. I just think he doesn’t know any better…

When he got to the lake, he put all of his gear on the ground, then starting working his way around a cove with one rod. When he landed this bass, he had to walk all the way around have to his tackle box so he could weigh and photograph the fish. Then he weighed it again. Then he took another photo…

This went on for 4 minutes… I know because I landed a crappie at the same time and took a picture of it, and compared the timestamp to when he released the fish.

I love pictures of fish. I love seeing them and talking about them. Running a third tier fishing blog, I need fishing pictures. It’s not hard to either have all your tackle with you, or bring what you need around the lake. My camera is tethered to me, and I have a landing net I carry on my back to catch fish as soon as possible; and to give a soft surface to photograph them on. If I do decide to take a picture of a fish, the decision is made it an instant. I take one step from the bank, set everything up, remove the hook, and release the fish. The fish is out of the water for 30 to 45 seconds tops; and I even feel bad about that. If for whatever reason it will be longer the fish stays in the net, and the net in the water, until I am ready. Sometimes this is necessary on the belly boat.

I try to avoid lipping a fish if I can; but this is forgivable. The 4 minutes of the of water makes me livid.

Fish need water; for obvious reasons. If that fish is not headed to a dinner plate, then it belongs in the water. Period. It takes very little forethought to think about photos before hand. I don’t weigh fish (it is an unimportant statistic to me), but having that scale on your body is also something that take no forethought.

Ethical fisherman are what keeps fishing an American pastime. There are plenty of groups out there that would like to see all fishing ended. Although I disagree with them, sometimes I can see there point…

And if not for the sport, simply have respect for the life of the fish.

The greatest thing that I feel fishing teaches is a respect for life. Sadly, this is something that is fading in our fast forward society. Respect for all living things is bred from being around living thing and taking care of them. Sometimes I think people forget that our time here in this life is limited, how fragile life really is, and how precious of a gift it is.

A lack of this leads to horrible things. Just turn on your TV…

When fishing, please take time before you go to think through what you will do if you catch a fish. If you choose to harvest, have a humane way to handle those fish. If you are going to release the fish, take time to plan out how you will preserve that once-in-a-lifetime fish before your line hits the water.

And don’t forget, don’t lip the fish! (This is why I cannot watch most fishing shows…)


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Par for the course right now… Slow fishing. At least I am catching something!

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After I got home today, I peaked out at the flag pole my neighbor has in his yard. I have developed this ritual since we bought our house, and the final decision to go fishing after work cannot be made without first checking the to see if the flag on the top of the pole is still, fluttering, or standing so straight in the wind that fly fishing would be impossible.

Today the flag was fluttering. Oh, how deceiving looks can be.

Even though the wind was light, two miles away at Bowling Lake the wind was miserably strong. After I got onto the water, the realization had set in that I had vastly underdressed for that strong, cold Nebraska wind blowing from the north. I had only brought a sweatshirt with me, and with in minutes my hands were numbing. I even resorted holding my tenkara rod handle inside my sweatshirt sleeve to keep my hands warm.

But within a few casts I pulled a bluegill to hand. And the cold faded away.

Don’t get me wrong, I still was cold. I just didn’t notice it after that fish came to hand.

I was the only angler on the lake; which either makes me a genius or an idiot. By this story, it could definitely go either way. I spent the next hour roaming up and down the bank; walking backward into the wind to keep warm, but not noticing it’s sting.

I didn’t catch another fish the rest of the evening. But catching at least one fish will do that to an angler, and a new frame of mind sets in…

“One fish took the fly, why wouldn’t another one?”; maybe the next one will be the big one… the one I will talk about for years to come; whose photo will be framed in my office, pointed to, and constantly bragged about when others walk in my door and say “I’ve never caught one that big…”; to which I would always reply “You should have been there” with a smug smile on my face knowing that they can’t; that they didn’t stay up late at night tying the perfect fly pattern, they didn’t preserve through the cold and the wind on an evening when all others abandoned hope; knowing that moment in time alone on the lake, in miserable weather and armed only with my faith, nature rewarded me with a magical fight; a moment that no one else will ever know; a secret between me and nature; because while others may see that picture, they will never feel the racing heartbeat, the rush of adrenaline, or the grace of the fight from the moment the rod first vibrates with the strike of a once in a lifetime fish, to the last touch as it swims from your hand…

…the eternal optimism that separates a fly angler from the rest of mankind.

No, I did not catch another fish. I didn’t need to. I guess that either makes me look like a genius or an idiot.

Sometimes, looks can be deceiving…

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I was so excited to get these, I had to share them right away!!!

Only once in a blue moon do my wife’s crafty hobby and my fly fishing addiction overlap. Not to mention when both align perfectly with my third addiction, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Well the stars aligned this afternoon…

My wife made me Husker fly reel bags. How awesome is that! I bet even Tom Osborne would be jealous of this fly fishing swag! (For those of you who do not know, the legendary football coach is also an avid fly fishermen as well. While I have met Dr. Osborne in person, we are yet to cross paths on the water…)

I’ll be the coolest angler out on waters of Nebraska… thanks sweetheart!

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