OUTDOOR NEBRASKASPRING ISSUE 1955 15c
OUTDOOR NEBRASKAVol. 33, No. 2 EDITOR: Wallace Green Artist C. G. Pritchard Circulation Marjorie French Leota Ostermeier COMMISSIONERS Harold H. Hummel, Fairbury; Frank Button, Ogallala; Bennett Davis, Omaha; La Verne Jacobsen, St. Paul; Donald F. Robertson, North Platte; Floyd Stone, Alliance; Leon Sprague, Red Cloud. ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF EXECUTIVE SECRETARY: Paul T. Gilbert. CONSTRUCTION AND ENGINEERING DIVISION: Eugene H. Baker, supervisor. FISHERIES DIVISION: Glen R. Foster, supervisor. GAME DIVISION: Lloyd P. Vance, supervisor. INFORMATION DIVISION: Wallace Green. LAND MANAGEMENT DIVISION: Jack D. Strain, supervisor. HOW TO SUBSCRIBE OUTDOOR NEBRASKA is published quarterly at Lincoln, Nebraska, by the Game, Forestation and Parks Commission. Subscription rates are $1.00 for two years and $2.00 for five years. Single copies are 15 cents each. Remittances must be made in cash, check or money order. Send subscriptions to OUTDOOR NEBRASKA, Department C, State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify this department immediately of any change of address to assure prompt delivery of the next issue to the new address. All material appearing in this magazine may be reprinted upon request NEBRASKA FAMER PRINTING CO.. LINCOLN. NEBR.
I HAVE BEEN Juvenile Court Judge in King County, Washington, for over twenty years, and during that time I have handled some forty-five thousand juvenile cases. As a result of that experience I have come to the conclusion that most youngsters go wrong simply because they do not have anything else to do. City kids don't have the chores to do that most of us had when we were growing up. It is more difficult for them to get out into the hills and on the waters and in the mountains. Paved streets and alleys are not very wholesome places in which youngsters can give vent to their abundant energies and their hunger for adventure. Many of them turn to stealing cars and burglary for their outlets.
It has also been my observation, however, that these same kids respond naturally when given an opportunity to hike and fish and climb, and I can not recall a single case, in twenty years, of serious juvenile conduct involving a youngster whose hobby and recreation outlet was fishing.Judge William G. Long Superior Court Seattle, Washington THE COVER: This issue's cover shows a Northern pike about to take a bluegill, as two orange-spotted sunfish escape; according to Staff Artist C. C. "Bud" Pritchard. See pages 14 and 15 for more information on the Northern pike in Nebraska.
DEER HUNTING THE HARD WAYby Stan Smith
It was a crisp clear autumn morning as Tom finally settled himself down on a log. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon to the east, and its early morning glow cast a beautiful golden color on the trees near him. There was just a trace of frost in the air and Tom was thankful that he had put on plenty of warm clothing this morning. This was the first day of the bow and arrow season on deer.
Tom had looked forward to this day for several months. He had purchased a bow and some practice arrows, and had spent many hours learning how to shoot. He was confident now that he could hit a target as big as a deer. He knew, however, that he must be close to his target.
As an early morning breeze brushed Tom's face he gave a sigh of relief for he had guessed right on its direction. He was about 20 yards downwind from a runway where he hoped a large buck would pass. He found the runway about a week ago, and knew it was well traveled by deer. A big buck was sure to use it.
Tom sat in a small blind that he had built the same day he found the runway. He had fitted an arrow to his bow and was waiting, watching and listening. He could hear his heart pounding. He was almost afraid to breathe for fear it would be heard by an ever-cautious deer.
After several minutes of waiting Tom's eye caught a slight movement to his right. As he watched, a doe stepped into view. She was about 70 yards away and was looking along the trail. Her large ears moved slowly forward and back as if trying to pick up every sound. Tom sat still as a statue on his log, with the wind blowing his scent away from the deer run.
Finally, the doe walked out along the trail. Then Tom saw what he had been waiting for. He wanted to jump up and send an arrow flying at the huge buck deer that moved into view. But he waited. He didn't move. He hardly dared breathe. The doe stepped nearer to his blind now, and again scrutinized her surroundings for danger. She must not discover his presence in the blind, for if she did, both deer would be gone in a flash.
It seemed like an hour before the doe moved again, but the buck hesitated. He now walked on cautiously. HeContinued on next page SPRING ISSUE 3 continued from page 3 DEER HUNTING THE HARD WAY
seemed to sense danger in the air. As he approached to about 30 yards from the blind he stopped.
Tom's nerves were dancing, his heart was beating hard against his ribs, and he could sense that his face was hot. Did the buck know he was near?
Tom decided to chance it. Slowly he stood up. The buck hadn't spotted him yet. He raised the bow and looked down the arrow toward the razor sharp point. Practice was paying off now, for he knew how to aim the arrow in order to hit the deer in a vital spot behind the front shoulder.
Then it happened; a small stick snapped under Tom's weight. The buck whirled, but Tom already had the bow drawn back full. He shifted his aim and let the arrow go. The buck leaped forward and seemed to meet the arrow in mid-air. The buck staggered a little and ran back up the trail out of sight.
Tom sat down again, and wiped the perspiration from his face. He knew his arrow had hit the deer, but he knew he would have to wait, for the deer would keep running if chased. He tried to relax and he waited.
Tom was one of thousands of bow and arrow hunters in the United States. Ever since the first season in Oregon in 1935, other states have opened seasons on deer for archers. In 1937, Pennsylvania opened an area to bow and arrow enthusiasts, and in 1941 Allegan County in Michigan was opened. Since then Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming and others have opened seasons for archers, and the list is still growing. Today Wisconsin and Michigan afford hunting to more archers than other states.
What chance do you have getting your deer with a bow and arrow? If 5 to 10 percent of the archers are successful in getting either a buck or doe, it is considered good. Gun hunters on the other hand enjoy a much higher success ratio. In 1954, 68 percent of the hunters in Nebraska got a deer.
The reason for this is obvious. The bow and arrow hunter has to outsmart the deer in its own backyard. He must sit more, and stalk more carefully. He must get closer to his target for he usually has but one shot, and a small spot on the deer to hit for a clean kill.
An arrow does not kill by shock as does a bullet. The wide sharp point on an arrow is made to cut blood vessels as it enters the deer's body. An arrow into the lungs will deflate them. A large bone will stop an arrow, but a rib will not. An arrow will kill large animals such as moose, elk, grizzly bear and even the huge Kodiak bear. Figures show that the crippling loss from bow and arrow is actually no more than from guns.
Most archers use a bow with a 50 to 65 lb. pull, but a good bow with a 40 lb. pull is adequate if the arrows are sharp. The important thing is to get a bow that can be easily handled in cold weather with heavy clothes on, and keep the arrow points razor sharp when hunting game.
Tom had been waiting now for about 30 minutes and decided to go find his deer. He found the tracks in the bottomland sand and began following it. He had a little trouble, but kept working at it. After tracking about 100 yards, Tom sighted his deer lying down under a low tree. As he approached, he could see that the buck was dead. What hunter would't be proud of a trophy such as this?
Tom could be any Nebraska deer hunter this fall. The first bow and arrow season in Nebraska opens October 1 and runs through the month until October 31, in Burt, Douglas, Thurston and Washington counties.
The bag limit for bow and arrow hunters is one deer of either sex. Game technicians are assured there is a sizeable herd in the river bottom country of the Missouri River. In order to harvest the surplus deer in this herd in a densely populated part of Nebraska, they have recommended a bow and arrow season.
Due to the difficulty of taking deer with a bow and arrow, hunters are allowed the full month season.
Archery hunters will not be allowed to carry firearms while hunting deer. They may not use crossbows or arrows other than those tipped with a hunting or broadhead tip. The heads must not be less than 1 inch in width and not more than 1/2 inches wide. Longbows, the allowable hunting weapons, must have more than 40 pounds pull at full draw.
A hide tag will be provided, which must be attached to the carcass immediately after the kill. Within 24 hours, a special deer seal must be attached by a Nebraska Conservation Officer or other authorized personnel. No deer can be transported out of the open bow and arrow season area without the special tag.Read and Heed Water is a good friend but a deadly enemy. Learn to swim. You can't think of a better sport to save your life. Never swim alone. Make sure someone is nearby who can help. Swim at a safe bathing place, preferably one with life guards. Don't swim when overheated, overtired or right after eating. Before diving make sure the water is deep enough and has no hidden objects. Know your ability. Distance over water is misleading. Take a boat along for distance swimming in open water. Be courteous. Consider the safety of others. Beware of sunburn; even on a cloudy day, take it easy. Learn safe handling and self-rescue before going out in boats. Stay with your boat or canoe. Most small craft will float when upset. In case of a drowning, start artificial resperation at once. Learn more about water safety from your Red Cross. 4 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA
Fish Management Means... BETTER FISHING FOR NEBRASKANSby R.W. Eschmeyer
Here is part two of a series on fish management. The place of stocking and regulations as tools used in fish management is explained by R. W. Eschmeyer, pioneer fisheries worker, now with the Sports Fishing Institute.
STOCKING: The North Platte hatchery is a key installation in Nebraska's stocking program.
REGULATIONS: Modern conservation officers are charged with prevention of violations through education, as well as enforcement of regulations.
THERE'S one basic fact that needs to be understood if we are to properly determine the role of stocking. Fish are prolific—much more prolific than most animals we deal with.
We can't give accurate figures on egg production because a big female lays far more eggs than a small female of the same species. However, in general, a trout may lay 1,000 eggs, a bass 10,000, a bluegill 20,000, a walleye 50,000, and a big carp might lay a million. Under suitable conditions, a big percentage of these eggs hatch. One study on a 14-acre lake showed that the number of fry produced naturally by four species (large-mouth bass, bluegill, common sunfish, rock bass) was slightly over 500,000 per acre. The water would support only a few hundred adult fish per acre.
We have instances where the limited brood stock present in the original river was more than adequate to provide all the young fish needed to stock big impoundments.Natural Stocking
A big female bass in a one-acre farm pond could produce enough progeny so that if all eggs hatched and all fish survived for three generations, there would be enough fish, at one pound each, to replace the water in the pond, and to make a heap, one acre in area, extending over 700 feet above the pond!
Obviously, fish are prolific. We can understand the picture if we will think of cows having thousands of calves per year. If each cow had only 10,000 calves, adding a truck load of calves wouldn't increase the cattle population of a pasture very appreciably.
There's an added item. Fish need food—lots of it. Their food chains tend to be long. The average acre of water in the United States probably supports not more than a hundred pounds per acre. This may range all the way from a very few pounds in some waters to a thousand pounds or more in some small highly productive waters.
It's easy to see why, during the days of the hatchery "craze," many of our hopes were unrealized. We can understand, now, why much of the stocking was ineffective or even harmful. During those days the public was quite willing to accept the belief that stocking was the panacea to all our fishing ills. We fishery workers believed it, too, and advocated it. The job of selling the stocking idea was an effective one. It was later that we learned more about fish being prolific and about the food needs.
The job of "unselling" has not been an easy one. For instance, a year or two ago we talked with a farmer about his farm pond. He had decided to start fishing it but then he observed an immense crop of bluegill fry—"millions of 'em." "We decided to wait until they grow up before starting the fishing," said the farmer. The man had a well-managed farm. He had only a limited number of cows in his pasture. He understood about carrying capacity and overgrazing on the land. But to him the farm pond was quite different.
There's the case, too, of sportsmen being delighted when a federal truck delivered bass fry for distribution in the rather extensive waters of one county. The supply consisted of 5,000 fry, less than half the potential output of one female!
Though there are still exceptions, more and more sportsmen recognize the fact that stocking has limitations. In general, the public still looks on stocking as a cure-all only in those states where the top fishery people (some ex-hatchery men or politicians)continued on Next Page SPRING ISSUE 5 Continued from page 5
have been disinterested in public enlightenment, for obvious reasonsProper Use
Stocking does have major limitations. But, it's one of our important fish conservation tools. Properly used, stocking plays an important role in improving our fishing.Warmwater Fish
For warm waters we must rely on planting small fish. Raising game fish to adult size in hatcheries costs a fortune. Rearing a bass to twelve inches would cost an estimated two to four dollars. Not over half the planted fish can be expected to be caught. This raises the average price of each bass creeled to four to eight dollars—more than the average price of a fishing license. So far as we know, only Virginia still carries on this expensive practice.
Planting warmwater fingerlings serves a good purpose in a number of instances:
1. To stock new waters, especially farm ponds and new public fishing lakes.
2. Reintroduction of fish in lakes depleted by winter-kill.
3. Introducing species not already present, where such introduction is desirable.
4. Restocking of waters from which existing fish populations were removed through use of chemicals or by draining.
5. In some instances stocking will help fishing in waters where the fish are already present, but where conditions for spawning are inadequate. For example, Minnesota has been able to provide walleye fishing in some kinds of waters by stocking them heavily with walleye fingerlings. The situations where stocking of this kind is helpful seem to be rather limited; the need for the stocking should be determined by the professional fishery worker.Coldwater Fish
The stocking picture for warmwater fish and coldwater fish differs rather decidely. Trout can be raised to catchable size at a much lower cost than would be needed to raise bass or other game fish to a size where they would be attractive to anglers.
In numerous waters we can now have good trout fishing only by planting catchable-size fish. The cost is high. A single legal limit costs more than the price of a license. But, such stocking is justified if the trout fisherman is willing to pay the bill. In many trout waters, the question is one of having put-and-take stocking, or having no fishing at all. Of course, such stocking is justified only on heavily fished waters where a big percentage of the planted fish will be retaken by the angler.
In general, stocking with coldwater species may be expected to benefit fishing under these circumstances.
1. Stocking lakes where conditions are suitable, but where the trout have no spawning areas. Usually fingerlings may be stocked under these conditions. Many trout lakes provide good fishing only because of periodic fingerling stocking; others have adequate natural reproduction.
2. Restocking lakes with fingerlings after removal of existing fish populations by use of rotenone or by draining. The state of Washington, for example, has provided excellent trout fishing in a number of waters by this method.
3. Stocking with catchable-size trout. This is the only method of providing good trout fishing in many very heavily fished waters, either because they are not good trout waters or because they cannot raise enough fish naturally to take care of the demand. For best results the fish must usually be planted at intervals just before and during the open season. Most studies show a low winter survival of these fish.
4. Stocking with anadromous fishes. Planting of small salmon is helpful where the spawning habitat has been destroyed by the building of dams or by other activity. Too, stocking with steelhead on the west coast has greatly improved the runs of these fish.Introductions
Introductions. have been both beneficial and harmful. For example, trout fishing has been created in many waters by introducing trout; fishing in some waters has been destroyed by introducing carp.
Often sportsmen tend to want those species introduced which are not already present. If these succeed, they must generally do so at the expense of native species. Carrying capacity is limited. If we add horses, sheep and mules to a pasture, the pasture will necessarily support fewer cows than it could support before the other species were added.In General
Stocking isn't a cure-all. For a while its value was greatly overemphasized. It's only one of the various fish management tools. However, it is still a very important tool. Its value will depend on how intelligently the tool is used. The need for stocking should be definitely established before we stock. It should be established not by the man who raises fish or by the sportsmen, but by competent trained fishery personnel through a study of the habitat and the fish population already present.Regulations
In times past, fish laws were made with very little factual evidence to back them. We tended to put more and more restrictions on the fishing, and to increase the warden staff with the expectation of having better enforcement as a result.
The regulations usually involved size limits, closed seasons, and creel limits, though many other types of restrictions were also imposed. Some states still pass arbitrarily - made regulations, others now tend to base their laws on proven need.Basic Considerations
Here are a few basic statements which should be carefully considered in the question of fish regulations. We're referring here to hook-and-line fishing only. Commercial fishing will be discussed separately in a later article.
1. Regulations should be aimed at providing a maximum number of successful fishing trips, and a fair distribution of the fish resources.
2. The fish in public waters belong to the people. Regulations should be aimed at giving the public maximum use of the fish resources.
3. Fish are a crop, and a renewable one. They should be used. If not caught within a reasonable number of years after birth, they die of natural causes. The average fish has a relatively short life span.
4. An acre of water will support only a limited poundage of fish. Regulations will not increase the potential standing crop.
6. We should have only those laws for which there is proven need. If regulations have been imposed without proof of specific need, the situation should be studied to decide what action is proper. Proof that a law is needed should be provided by the state fishery authorities. The proof should be gotten through research conducted by competent investigators.
7. The hook and line is ineffective "harvesting equipment." Our lure must compete with the natural foods. You can get a good picture of the effectiveness of the hook and line if you will "fish" for pheasants, putting a grain of corn on a hook (in pheasant country) and waiting (hidden) for a pheasant to take it!
8. Regulations imposed to preserve the broodstock are generally not needed. A few brood fish can furnish a lot of young. Furthermore, even when a lake is "fished out" from an angler's standpoint, it usually still has a good population of brood fish left. We could understand this if we tried "fishing" for cattle in a big pasture. If the pasture were grazed to capacity, a handful of grass would soon attract a cow. But, as the caught cows were removed gradually, there would be less demand on the pasture. The grass would grow. Soon, taking a cow on a handful of grass would become more difficult. Finally, it would be a rare experience because of the greater availability of natural food.
9. We fish to relax. When regulations are highly complicated, there is the constant fear that we may be breaking some laws unintentionally. Having too many laws spoils our sport.
10. Conditions change. To meet this change, the regulations should be made by the fish and game (or conservation) department. Legislatures lack flexibility and often tend to give undue consideration to politics.
11. In the past we have tended to regulate only the fishermen. More attention should be given to regulating fish populations.
Other points might be listed, but we'll stop with the eleven mentioned above.The Hook and Line
Sport fishing is generally limited to use of hook and line. Most other kinds of equipment may be too effective unless properly controlled. Too, it is generally assumed that hook-and-line fishing provides greater enjoyment than other kinds of equipment. Most regulations limit fishing to "hook-and-line." This is generally desirable for game fish species.Size Limits
There is no evidence that a size limit on pan fish is desirable, and considerable evidence to suggest that such limits are undesirable. These species tend to become overabundant. If your state has size limits on sunfishes, crappie, yellow perch, white perch, bullheads, and similar pan fish, chances are that the laws are unnecessary or are doing more harm than good.
Size limits on bass and trout, and on the big predator game fish such as pickerel, pike, and muskellunge are probably beneficial in some areas and unnecessary in others. This question needs further study.Creel Limits
Creel limits have a psychological value. A person would be more satisfied with catching a limit of five fish than with catching eight fish, if the limit were ten. Saying that we caught the limit implies that we could have taken more if the law had allowed.
This leads to complications, because there is usually no justification for creel limits on pan fish, except the psychological one.
On game fish we should have creel limits on some waters, though fishing has not deteriorated in Ohio as a result of removing all creel limits some few years ago.
On very heavily fished trout waters, a very low creel limit seems desirable.
In general, the question of creel limits needs further study.Closed Seasons
We have no evidence that a closed season is needed on pan fish. Year-round fishing for these species seems desirable.
A number of states have discarded the closed season on all warmwater fish, thereby greatly increasing the fishing without adverse results.
Where we rely on put-and-take trout stocking, the number of fish available is determined by the number planted. Here, there is little need for a closed season for that reason.
There are undoubtedly instances where a closed season is desirable. However, at times past, we have often had closed seasons where they were not needed.In General
For a while we imposed more and more restrictive legislation. Then, when we realized that in many waters most fish were uncaught, that fish are prolific, that waters have a definite carrying capacity, that the hook and line is usually too inefficient to remove all the broodstock, and that fish have a relatively short life span, we moved in the other direction. The tendency today is to liberalize—to have fewer restrictive laws. There is ample evidence to show that this tendency is in the right direction, though there will probably be exceptions. There are instances where we may need even more rigid restrictions. For example, in some states the creel limit on trout will undoubtedly need to be reduced.Enforcement
Laws are of little value unless folks obey them. The presence of an enforcement officer in a general area does not prevent violation if people tend to ignore the laws. This point has been well demonstrated in a portion of the southern Appalachians where I lived for a dozen years. Here, there have been enforcement officers (revenooers) for several generations, but moonshining is still a big (though admittedly hidden) industry.
The mere fact that a state has wardens (conservation officers, rangers) offers no assurance that violations will decrease. Even a doubling of ihe warden force will not prevent violations from taking place.
We do obey those laws which we respect. There are few people who would knowingly drive through a red traffic light, even though there was no traffic, and even though it were obvious that there was no traffic cop in the vicinity.
Not long ago we witnessed a case where a drunken driver crashed into a car and then sped away from the scene of the accident. Folks who saw the accident immediately pursued the hit-and-run driver and caught him, holding him until the state police arrived. They didn't wait for the enforcement officers continued on Next PageSPRING ISSUE 7 Continued from page 7
to do the job—they took action immediately. The public will not tolerate hit-and-run driving.
It all adds up to one thing. We obey a law if we believe in it. If we don't believe in a law, we tend to ignore it even though an enforcement officer might be somewhere in the county (though obviously not in sight at the time of the violation).
We want to be well thought of, that's human nature. If it's unpopular to violate, we'll tend not to do so. If we want less violation, we sportsmen can bring it about; the warden alone, without our active support, can do very little.
For years we felt that the answer lay in employing more and more fish and game "cops," whose sole duty was to detect violation of the fish and game laws and to make arrests. We now realize that this system is of limited value, and that the number of arrests made by the warden is of secondary importance.
In the more progressive states, emphasis now is on prevention of violation, rather than on detection. Prevention is brought about mainly through these two activities.
1. A sound, practical fact-finding program to determine which laws are really needed. (A great many people have been arrested at times past for doing the right thing conservationwise).
2. A sound, effective education program aimed at enlightening the public on the need for the regulations. Once the public recognizes the need, violations will decrease.
The change in concept, from emphasis on detection to emphasis on prevention, imposes one basic problem. The old-time fish and game "cop" who enjoys making arrests is necessarily anti-social. There is serious question as to his effectiveness as an educator. The modern warden must be able to educate the public effectively, arresting only the habitual violator who can't be educated. Too, he can do a good job only if the laws are sensible. In some states, the intelligent warden knows that some regulations do more harm than good. He can't sell, effectively, something which he knows is wrong.
The warden is an important figure in fish and game conservation. He will be an even more valuable figure when he has only properly tested regulations to enforce, and when he directs most of his activities toward prevention, less toward detection. In some instances, this change in program may call for a change in personnel because the temperaments of "cops" and of "preventers" and "educators" may differ somewhat.The Idea Situation
Ideally, a state should have only those sport fishing regulations for which there is proven need. We may need to impose emergency regulations at times, without proof of the need for them, but in those instances we should immediately institute a fact-finding program which will demonstrate whether or not the regulation is proper.
Ideally, too, we should, have an effective educational program which will generate respect for regulations. Enforcement men should play an important role in this educational program.
Interestingly enough, in those states where these methods (fact-finding and education) are used, the laws are being simplified and reduced in number, and the amount of violation seems to be decreasing rather decidely. In general, we're much more rational about the regulation question than we were twenty years ago. As a result, in some areas, we now have more and improved fishing, and a growing respect for the regulations.
One of the most encouraging features in modern fish conservation has been the change in the warden. In the more progressive states, these men are now carefully selected on the basis of qualifications for the job. In these states the political warden has disappeared. Here, the modern enforcement man is a highly respected individual and is well versed in conservation problems generally. He attends special schools at regular intervals, so that he can keep up on modern developments, and can compare experiences with the other wardens.
He's basically an educator. There is a growing, and proper, tendency to refer to him as a ranger or as a conservation or fish and game "officer," not as a "warden." He's a far different individual from the old-time fish and game "cop." He plays an extremely important role in promoting improved fishing and hunting. He's interested basically in preventing violation of the regulations, but his field of active interest extends far beyond mere enforcement.
One state, Pennsylvania, has separate fish wardens and game wardens. A patronage dispenser could see plenty of merit in having separate wardens for fish and for game; it creates more jobs. But, most people who are genuinely interested in conservation would probably regard such duplication as an unnecessary extravagance.
Though there are exceptions, the regulation picture has been improving immensely—with greatly improved laws, with emphasis on prevention of violation, and with high caliber officers on the job. The regulation picture is a very encouraging one.1955 FISHING REGULATIONS 1955 AREA OPEN: The entire state is, open to fishing excepting private lakes closed to the public or areas closed by Federal or State law or City ordinance. SEASON: Open for the entire year on.all species. SIZE LIMITS: No size limits on fish caught with hook and line. SPECIES DAILY BAG LIMIT POSSESSION LIMIT TROUT BLACK BASS (Large and Smallmouth) 10 10 WHITE BASS 15 15 CRAPPIE (Black and White) 15 15 BLUEGILL AND SUNFISH (Green, Orange-Spotted & Pumpkinseed) No Limt No Limit ROCK BASS 15 15 BULLHEADS (Except in Arthur, Blaine, Brown, Cherry, Garden, Grant, Hooker. Holt, McPherson, Rock and Thomas counties where the limit is 25)_____________________ PERCH (Except in Brown, Cherry, Holt where there is no limit)_________ WALLEYE AND SAUGER 15 15 nd Rock counties 25 25 NORTHERN PIKE FRESHWATER DRUM (Sheepshead) CATFISH (Channel, Blue and Yellow) 10 10 10 10 DAILY BAG: "Means fish taken from midnight to midnight." POSSESSION LIMIT: "Means fish in the possession of any person at any time." There is no limit on bluegill, sunfish (green, orange-spotted, pumpkinseed) or other non-game fish. 8 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA
OUTDOOR Nebraska Quiz
IN PLANNING this month's Outdoor Quiz, we hit upon the idea of clearing up the misunderstanding the average fisherman has about "moss" or waterplants. As we progressed in the art work, we found that our subject matter is so difficult to identfy, that only well informed technicians could readily tell one water plant from another.
Obviously this makes the Quiz far too difficult, but we are still presenting the subject matter as a guide for readers who have been curious about the different kinds of water plants they see every summer.
All of the plants presented here are submerged plants, which provide an important link in the food chain of the fish life in your fishing waters. Thousands and thousands of tiny microscopic plants and animals are found on these plants, providing food for young fish.
The plants also provide a means of putting oxygen in the water, similar to the way plants put oxygen into air. They also provide escape cover, where young fish can hide from predators and have a chance to grow.
1. Coontail: Found in water 2 to 15 feet deep, both foliage and fruit is eaten by ducks.
2a. Western Widgeon Grass, 2b. Eastern Widgeon Grass: Both are common in alkali and salt water and are often confused with Sago Pondweed.
3a. Sago Pondweed, 3b. Long Leaf Pondweed: These are one of the most important of duck foods, having large succulent tubers or roots.
4. Algae: One of many forms, usually the cause of the large masses of "summer moss" that ruins fishing in many ponds.
5. Charra: Also called musk grass, is found in many of Nebraska's alkali lakes.
6. Bladderwort: This small water plant can actually entrap and digest small insects with its small flowers.SPRING ISSUE 9 Fish for Your Pond!
HOW DO I get the State Game Commission to come and stock fish in my pond? Is there any charge for stock? What do I have to do? These are only a few of the questions concerning stocking that are asked of the Fisheries Management Division every spring.
In order to regulate and continue the fish stocking program the Commission has established a very definite policy.Stocking Priority
Naturally, the first item in the policy concerns the matter of priority on stocking. Let's take a look and see where fish are stocked.
The primary obligation of the Nebraska Game Commission, is the stocking of waters on lands owned or controlled by the State. Such areas include lakes and streams on State recreational areas, State parks, State game reserves and other State-owned lands. All of these are open to public fishing unless closed by the State for a specific reason.
Next in line for stocking of State-owned fish are the quasi-public waters, open to public fishing; without a fee being charged either for fishing or trespassing. Such areas include the Public Power and Irrigation reservoirs, city lakes and natural streams where the public has free access to fishing.
After the above obligations are taken care of, privately-owned waters such as your pond can be considered. These privately-owned ponds, where the owners permit fishing entirely free to the public, can be stocked by the Nebraska Game Commission. These areas include large sandhill lakes, large and small artifical lakes and streams running through privately-owned lands.
The Commission does not stock any waters that are not open to free public fishing. Owners of private waters must agree to keep their lakes or streams open to the public without trespass or other fees before fish can be allotted to them.
If you do not want to let the public have fee access to your pond, you can still get fish by applying to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1006 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota. These applications must be approved by the Nebraska Game Commission before fish are stocked.
Before allotting fish, either on state or federal applications, ponds and lakes must meet certain minimum requirements. If applications are approved, fish are alloted to each applicant in proper numbers and species for only the initial stocking or when the original stock is lost.Distribution Time
Fish will be supplied during the fall distribution period from September 15 through November. Some state applications may be filled during May and June when fish are available.
Fish for the initial stocking will be of the fingerling size. The deadline for receiving state applications for spring stocking is April 15; for fall stocking, September 1.Land and Water Requirements
The following specifications are the minimum requirements for ponds or lakes before fish will be allotted on either state or federal applications.
WATER SUPPLY: Ponds shall have a water supply large enough to maintain a water level. Ponds with rainwater supply only, must be large enough and deep enough to carry fish over the winter and through the dry summer months. The water supply must be free from pollution or anything harmful to fish.
SIZE AND DEPTH: Rainwater ponds shall have a surface area of V2 acre or more and shall have a depth of not less than 10 feet over !4 of the impounded area during the fall months of the year. Smaller ponds with a constant water supply sometimes produce good fishing with proper management, but they seldom repay the effort expended in construction.
CONSTRUCTION: Pond bottoms shall be graded to slope toward the outlet so all water can be removed and fish can be salvaged any time the pond is drained.
The sides shall drop off sharply to give a depth of 18 inches or more. Shallower areas are of little value in a fish pond.
Every pond should have a drain and water level control. When a pond becomes overstocked or undesirable fish get into it, the pond must be competely drained, all fish removed and restocked with the right species and numbers of fish. The drain pipe should not be less than 4" in diameter and larger for ponds over 3 acres.
An overflow spillway shall be provided on each pond as a protection against floods. It should be wide enough so the flow over it will not be over a few inches deep, to prevent fish loss. Non-porous soil should be used for construction of the dam to prevent seepage.
FENCING: The entire pond area and dam, 100 feet or more back from the water edge shall be fenced or otherwise protected against livestock damage. Livestock breaks bank edges down and causes the water to become muddy. The shore line is a source of fish food supply and also may become good habitat for waterfowl. Stock may be watered in a trough or tank constructed in the pond outlet below the dam.
DRAINAGE AREA: Waterways and the drainage area above the pond shall be grassed over and planted to prevent silt from washing into the pond. Natural food cannot be produced in a muddy pond. Small ponds will soon be filled up if silt is continually carried into it by floods and runoff water.
STOCKING: Owners of ponds should not permit any fish of any species to be stocked in the pond without first consulting the Game Commission. Anyone planning to construct a new pond, where they intend to have fishing, should first contact the Fishery Management Division of the Game Comission at the State House, Lincoln for detailed information.
According to Glen Foster, Supervisor of the Fishery Management Division "Ponds built for fish are also good for stock water ponds. But, stock water and erosion ponds are not necessarily good fish ponds."10 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA
Part 1 of a Guide to Nebraska Fishing Waters ... NEBRASKA'S GREAT LAKES
NEBRASKAN'S might aptly name south central Nebraska as their "Great Lakes Area." Two major reservoir systems, the Republican and Platte river watersheds offer thousands of acres of some of the best fishing waters in the state.
These waters are important -sport fishing facilities from which many of the state record size fish have been taken. It is unbelievable to thousands of tourists traveling through Nebraska every year on U.S. Highways 30 and 34, that such fishing resources are within a few miles of their routes.
Accommodations have not been developed to a high degree, yet, on most of the reservoirs. Some of the older reservoirs, constructed in pre-war days, such as those in the Platte valley have accomodations. Unless you are familiar with the area, you had best arrange for accommodations in near-by towns on your first trip to these areas.
Every kind of game fish found in Nebraska can be found in one or more of the reservoirs. Best seasons for fishing are in the spring or early fall months. Reservoir fishing is similar to most fishing waters; there is a "doldrum" period during the intense heat of the mid-summer. Fishing success drops off during this time with only intermittent periods of good fishing.Platte River Reservoirs
Reservoir fishing and Lake McConaughy are synonomous. Nebraska's biggest reservoir, in Keith county, is well known for its large variety of fish; rainbow trout, walleye pike, northern pike, black and white bass, crappie and catfish being included in the list.
Many of the state record size fish have been taken from this huge western reservoir. Lake McConaughy is about 25 miles long and has more than 100 miles of shoreline, when it is full of water. In recent years, the use of water for irrigation has caused the shoreline to recede and the lake level is down about 12-15 feet.
As the North Platte river is diverted, east of McConaughy's Kingsly dam, it is sent through flumes, under the South Platte river and continues through canals into Sutherland reservoir in Lincoln county.
To strangers it is hard to believe that a series of reservoirs are up on the south rim of the Platte valley.
Huge canals connect the individual reservoirs with each other. From Sutherland reservoir, the canal continues to Maloney reservoir in central Lincoln county. Going east of Maloney, you would find a series of small reservoirs such as Moran, Box Elder, Cottonwood, Target and Snell. These are all connected by canals and good fishing can be found throughout the area. All kinds of game fish, mentioned before, can be found in these waters including a few trout.
Jeffery reservoir is the next big reservoir. It is well known for walleye and northern pike fishing. One of the top fishing spots at the reservoir is at the inlets and outlets of the canals. Most of the inlets have small dams and the water is swift running, below these dams. At the outlets there is usually a fore-bay where fishing is good.
As the canal leaves Jeffery reservoir, it connects with another series of small reservoirs. Little, Midway, Gallagher, and Plum Creek are all small inter-connecting reservoirs just west of Johnson reservoir, the last of the Platte river reservoirs.
Johnson reservoir is on the county line between Dawson and Gosper counties. From here the water is flumed down off the south side of the Platte valley and returned to the river.
All in all, the Platte river reservoirs offer over 45,000 acres of top fishing water to Nebraskans.Republican River Reservoirs
The Republican river reservoirs are the newest series of major reservoirs in the state of Nebraska. They were constructed primarily for flood control and irrigation purposes.
Most types of warm water fishing can be found in these reservoirs. Bass, walleye, bluegill, catfish, crappies, and other panfish are the more common game fish taken. Some of the best catfishing in the state is found along the Republican river and in the reservoirs.
Swanson reservoir, in Hitchcock county, was opened to fishing for the first time this year. Fishermen there have been having excellent success. This reservoir promises to become a favorite fishing spot for bass, crappies, walleye, catfish, bulhead and panfish.
Enders reservoir on the Frenchman river in Chase county is included with the Republican river watershed reservoirs. Although this is the smallest of this series of reservoirs, it has been a popular fishing spot for people in this section of the state.
Harry D. Strunk reservoir, formerly called Medicine Creek, is located in Frontier county and is the second largest of the Republican reservoirs. Although most kinds of warm water sport fish can be caught in this reservoir, the bass and crappie fishing has been particularly good in past seasons.
Harlan County reservoir, in Harlan county, is the largest and most heavily used reservoir in the watershed. Lying just north of the Kansas-Nebraska state line, this water has provided both Kansas and Nebraska fishermen with some of the best fishing in the state. Good catches of bass and crappies are taken here each year. Walleye fishing is excellent in the spring.
Both the Harlan county reservoir and the Republican river, below the dam, are favorite locations for catfishing. Some of the biggest catfish to be caught on inland waters of the state, are caught here.
Accomodations have not been developed at these reservoir sites of the Republican river watershed. However, the adjacent towns have good accommodations for those who do not plan to camp out. It is just a short distance to town from any of the reservoirs.See map on following page. SPRING ISSUE 11
"We have a program--"
A familiar phrase to your Information Division employees
IF YOU are on the entertainment committee of your local club, you often ponder over the question, "What can we have for a good program at our next meeting?"
The Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission can be of aid to you and your club, school or church group. Although it is almost impossible to provide a speaker for every program request, the Game Commission has a number of excellent wildlife movies that almost any group would enjoy.
These films are handled and booked through the Audio-Visual Aids Department, Architectural Building, University of Nebraska in Lincoln. There is a nominal fee to cover transportation charges to and from Lincoln.
The following is a list of the films available to clubs such as yours:YOURS IS THE LAND
(Full color—26 minutes)—Stresses the interdependence of the four great natural renewable resources: soil, water, forests and grasslands, and animal life. Portrays ways in which some of these resources came to be. Exposes the results of man's parctice of taking too much from the earth in too short a time. Emphasizes the need for a system of orderly management of our natural resources. For adult groups and high schools.PRAIRIE WINGS*
(Full color — 24 minutes) — American waterfowl are shown in brilliant super slow-motion. Actual calls of wild ducks and geese in flight are heard. Filmed in Pin Oak Flats of Arkansas. Physical characteristics, flying habits and peculiarities of all species are shown. Picture taken with telescopic lens, making it possible to view ducks and geese at close range.
*This film can only be shown on projectors which can be run at silent speed.THE MAKING OF A SHOOTER
(Full color—24 minutes)—Devoted to instruction in gun safety, handling and shooting. Many of the nation's top shooters partake in the film. Some scenes are filmed at the nation's top shoots, such as Vandalia, Ohio. The story centers around a youngster who watches some of the top marksmen and finally, utilizing his knowledge and instruction, goes duck, pheasant and big game hunting. All age groups.STEADY NOW
(Full color—12 minutes)—Training dogs to wing and shot. This film clearly demonstrates the firm patience used in training dogs to locate and point, to steady on shot, to retrieve on command and to be under perfect control at all times. Good for all age groups.BIOGRAPHY OF A FISH
(Black and white — 10 minutes) — Filmed under water. The extraordinary life story of the male stickleback fish—and the unusual life he leads. As father, and part-time "mothers," his underwater world is fascinating. The film shows nest construction, selection of mate, depositing of eggs and resultant fertilization, hatching, rearing and final destruction by a cannibalistic fish. All age groups.THE BEAVER
(Full color—12 minutes)—This film shows the life of the beaver. Trapping of the beaver; its midnight habits and dam construction. Many of the scenes were filmed at night when few human eyes have had the opportunity to observe the beaver at work.TROUT FACTORY
(Full color —10 minutes)—Shows a typical trout hatchery including stripping, feeding, sorting of fry, rescue work and various methods of planting the fish.SHOOTING SAFETY
(Full color—33 minutes—A motion picture film dedicated to the safe and proper handling of sporting firearms.PHEASANT FEVER
(Full color—11 minutes) — Pictures the training of a young dog in field work through the relationship of a boy to his dog. This film presents the themes of kindness to animals, responsibility for a pet and personal satisfaction in meeting obligations.TRIGGER HAPPY HARRY
(Full color—22 minutes)—Harry is the epitome of gun-carelessness. He is the man who shoots himself in the foot, or mistakes his hunting companion for a deer. He is the man whose child shoots a playmate with an "empty gun," or the man whom the newspapers so quaintly describe as having shot himself while cleaning his gun. At the end of the film on firearm safety, Harry continues to exist, through the grace of God and the miracle of the movie industry . . . thoroughly chastened, humbled and much the wiser for the experience. In his backhanded way, he teaches some lessons which will benefit anyone who takes to the field or may ever come in contact with a firearm.BOBWHITE QUAIL
(Full color — 45 minutes)—This film won international awards for wildlife color. It has received high acclaim at every showing because of the unusually fine color techniques, and particularly the unusual telephoto shots of quail. This film takes the quail through the entire season, beginning with the nesting season and the difficulties experienced by quail in avoiding predators, burning of cover and negative natural forces. Then continues into the growing season; the hunting season, with many fine shots of quail hunting with dogs; and finally the ravages of winter. This film is recommended for all age groups, and is particularly adaptable to rural groups as well as city civic and wildlife clubs.16 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA
Izaac Walton League Proposes... The Soil Bank Plan
OUR PRESENT use of our agricultural land presents a painful paradox. On the one hand, we have overproduction. Technical advances have increased and probably will continue to increase per-acre production.
Meanwhile, foreign markets for food-stuffs have dwindled, and the immediate outlook in this direction is not favorable.
It is true that our population is increasing rapidly, and eventually we will almost certainly need all our potential agricultural resources.
At present, however, we have enormous and growing surpluses of basic commodities, purchased by the federal government as part of a price support program. Clearly, in the race between population growth and food production, the American farmer is now far in the lead.
Yet we are using our land resources as if we were faced with imminent starvation.
We are cultivating some 360-400 million acres, of which perhaps 20 per cent is not suited to cultivation.
We have 70 million acres of Class 1 land (USDA classification system) not subject to wind and water erosion; 170 million acres of Class 2, capable of protection by simple measures; 232 million acres of Class 3 land that requires cautious handling if kept in continuous production; 95 million acres of Class 4 land capable of only intermittent cultivation; and 224 million acres of Classes 5 and 6 land that should be kept under permanent vegetative cover. Unfortunately, we are farming considerable acreages of land in Classes 4, 5 and 6. Land of Classes 7 and 8 are suited only to forestry and wildlife.
The Department of Agriculture has estimated that U. S. Surplus production represents the output of 40 million acres. If this means acres of average productivity, it is roughly equivalent to the output of 50 to 70 million acres of Classes 3 to 6 land. Thus, we are using too much of our production potential, and misusing and degrading a substantial share of our total land resources.
If a workable method is found to remove 50 to 70 million acres of land, Class 3 and up, from cultivation, and put it in a self-restoring land reserve, two major purposes in the public interest could be accomplished:1. We would restore a balance between production and demand. 2. We would have one of the most effective soil and moisture conservation programs imaginable. Editor's Note Here is a thought-provoking proposal that could be an answer to one of our gravest conservation problems. Izaak Walton members, for long months, have been striving for a workable plan that would give some answers to the controversial subject of farm price supports and surplus commodities. The League believes the land bank proposal, described in this article, embodies a workable and worthwhile soil and moisture conservation plan. Outdoor Nebraska is reprinting the proposal for two reasons. First, the Izaak Walton League is an important group in Nebraska's organized wildlife clubs. Secondly, the proposal itself has been favorably by farm and conservation leaders throughout the country. We feel that the basic idea in the plan should merit the serious consideration of each of our readers because of the crucial importance of soil and moisture conservation—not only for wildlife, but for survival of humanity.
This, then, constitutes the essence of the reasoning of the League's Land Use Committee and is the end result the proposal is intended to achieve.Working Proposal
It is proposed that the USDA lease from the owners, and remove from all agricultural production, a sufficient acreage of cultivated land to bring production in line with current demand.
Terms of leases would be a minimum of 5 years in humid areas, 10 years in areas that are semi-arid or cyclically arid, and 20 years where reforestation would be the required land use.
All leases might be terminated at any time by mutual agreement of both parties.
A lease provision would be that the land be immediately conditioned and planted in accordance with specifications calculated to assure the highest practical degree of fertility stabilization and restoration. Payment would start only when conditioning and planting were completed on leased tracts.
The cost of soil amendments, fertilizers and seeds would be borne by the USDA, and conditioning and planting would be done by the land owner.
To be eligible for leasing, land must have been in cultivation for at least two years. It must have been owned by the applicant for two years except where it had been acquired by inheritance, foreclosure or other means that did not anticipate the opportunity of the leasing program.
The protective and restorative plant cover would not be harvested, grazed or removed except by authority of the USDA in time of disaster such as prolonged drought or national emergency.
For ease of administration, not less than 10 acres of any farm could be leased.
Applications for leases would be accompanied by a fee, possibly set at $10 to defray part of the cost of appraisal and processing the lease.
The rental paid would be on a sliding scale, based on two factors. OneContinued on next page SPRING ISSUE 17 Continued from page 17
would be a fair cash rental price based on past productivity of the land and full parity prices for the products. The other would be a percentage factor of the first, that considers the need the particular tract shows for stabilization and restoration.Here is a suggested percentage table: Class 1 land, 60 per cent Class 2 land, 70 per cent Class 3 land, 80 per cent Class 4 land, 90 per cent Other, 100 per cent
The basic rental appraisal would be made by the USDA with the aid of a professional appraiser. The capability classification and specifications for conditioning and planting, would be done by the USDA.
If the first seeding failed, because of adverse weather or other causes, it would be repeated until successful, with costs divided as in the initial attempt. Failure of either party to carry out this provision would terminate the lease.
This program would first supplement and then supplant the present system of price supports. In the first year of effectiveness of the program, support prices would be reduced to not more than 75 per cent of parity, in the second year 70 per cent, and in the third year 65 per cent. Thereafter, price supports should not be necessary since this is in itself a price support program of an indirect nature.
The committee says that, admittedly, such a program would be costly and difficult to administer, and would not solve all the economic, social and conservation problems that face agriculture. It would, however, strike at the roots of these problems in a way that would benefit all the people, and at a cost in keeping with the benefits.
An example of the actual working of the proposed program can best be explained with a hypothetical case. Let us assume the situation of a midwest farmer operating 200 acres of land, some of which would fall into Class 2, some Class 3 and some Class 4 land using the USDA system previously mentioned.
Knowing that direct price supports are going to be gradually withdrawn, he applies for participation in the restoration program for a 40-acre field that is badly eroded.
The administrative committee, accompanied by an experienced land appraiser evaluates the field. The land has been producing corn, wheat, soy beans, occasionally clover. The committee estimates what a fair cash rental would be, assuming the corn was selling for $1.82, beans $2.83 and wheat $2.50 per bushel. They arrive at a figure in the range of $12.00 to $16.00 per acre. For convenience, let us assume they set the figure at $14.00 per acre.
Meanwhile, the United States Department of Agriculture field man classifies the land as Class 4 and therefore eligible for 90% of parity rental. The rental offered to the farmer is set at $12.60 per acre per year. This happens to be very close to the average cash rental of much midwest farm land during the last three years.
The field man also determines what is needed to place this field in proper condition for restoration. He prescribes 3 tons of limestone per acre followed by a seeding of mixed sweet clover, lespedeza and redtop. He further prescribes 2 pounds of DDT per acre be applied to the field when sweet clover has formed its first leaves, to prevent damage by sweet clover weevil.
The application, with all the information, is examined by a central USDA office. No evidence of local favoritism or other error is found; and the application is approved. The field is limed, prepared and seeded by the farmer, with the USDA paying for the lime and seed as well as the DDT.
Since this was the least productive field on his farm it cuts the farmer's production only 15%, even though it removes 20% of his land from cultivation. The first seeding is successful: and the farmer draws a check for $504 each year for the five years of the lease.
During one of the years of the lease, a disastrous drought strikes and there is a crop failure. The hay crop is short and pastures are burned. There is an emergency declared and the farmer may cut some of his hay as poor quality feed or may pasture the accumulated growth until the-emergency is over.
The farmer now has no acreage controls, no compliances or cross compliances but he does have price supports. If prices are too low for satisfactory returns, he can place additional land in the program until enough land , has been taken out of production on a nation-wide basis to balance normal supply and demand. Meanwhile all of his land is producing income, most of it by producing needed and not surplus food. He is also being paid to rebuild and restore the remainder of his land against the time when it will be needed.
Also the creek that runs through his farm is just a bit clearer, and the rivers just a little less muddy.
At the end of five years the farmer decides that it is better to leave this land in the restoration program and continue to draw his annual payments. One reason is that his oldest son has moved to the city and he himself is getting a bit older.
In the eighth year of the lease, a major war begins and there is a call for all-out production and the lease is terminated. The soil has undergone a build-up in major proportions of nitrogen content and soil texture. The dense sod is plowed and the field is both greatly improved in productivity and the soil is less erodable than it had been eight years before.
The nation's soil fertility had been banked when not needed and withdrawn with generous interest when it was badly needed. Meanwhile the farmer has been given almost complete freedom of choice in managing his land.
How would the plan work in western wheat country such as the Nebraska Panhandle? Take an example of bona fide farmer, not a suitcase farmer, operating two sections of wheat land.
The dry cycle hits him hard and he applies for a lease. The land was classified as 800 acres of Class 3 and 480 acres of Class 5 land due to the high sand content of some of the soil. His average wheat production was around 12 bushels per acre when it rained and the fair cash rental on the Class 3 land was set at $5.00 per acre. On the Class 5 land it was set as $3.00 per acre. The rental was therefore set at 80% of $5.00 or $4.00 per acre for Class 3 land and 100% or $3.00 per acre for Class 5 land.
The USDA field man prescribed a seeding of the best holding cover known at the time. The farmer decided that a sure return of $4,640 per year was better than gambling on the weather. He moved off the farm as soon as the seeding was permanently established.
There was less wheat to glut the market for the next ten years; and there was less dust in the air in the Midwest.
Of course, when wheat rose to $2.20 on the open market and the rain cycle returned, the farmer wanted to resume wheat growing. His ten-year lease was not terminated, as the wheat was not needed and there was no justification for renewing the hazard of blowing soil.
One can visualize many individual situations. Not all would be entirely desirable. Some land owners would place their land entirely in the restoration program and their tenants would be forced to leave the land for the crowded cities. This would be regrettable, but it has been going on steadilyContinued on page 24 18 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA
MEET YOUR CONSERVATION OFFICER
ALMOST everyone that fishes regularly at the Fremont lakes has had the occasion to meet Conservation Officer, Vernon Woodgate. "Woody,' as he is more commonly known, has been assigned to the Fremont area for the last 5 years.
He lived in North Platte before coming with the Game Commission in 1950. He was a fireman on the railroad for 7 years and then went into business with his father and brother, operating the city bus lines.
"Woody", an ardent hunter, was well acquainted with Officers Burman Guyer of Lexington, Roy Owens of Crete and Officer Lee Jensen, deceased. These friends encouraged him to apply for an opening as Conservation Officer and he was accepted.
Although the friendship of each of the three Officers had much influence on Officer Woodgate, it is probable that his association with Lee Jensen was the strongest.
Officer Jensen was a much respected and loved person before his death, who set a traditional example of a top flight Conservation Officer. He and "Woody" had an intense mutual interest in waterfowl as a basis of their friendship. They both began having specimens, which they shot during open season, mounted by taxidermists.
Today, "Woody" has one of the finest private collections of Nebraska waterfowl in the state. Although it is his private collection, he often uses it for Game Commission programs. Both youngsters and adults in the vicinity of Fremont can attest to the interesting and informative programs Officer Woodgate presents on waterfowl and waterfowl hunting.
Living near the Platte river at the Fremont recreation grounds, Woodgate is in the heart of part of Nebraska's better duck hunting country. Naturally, many of his law enforcement cases are on waterfowl. One of the biggest cases involved 29 ducks over the possession limit. Total cost to the violators was $874, including fines, liquidated damages and court costs.
"Woody" is the first to point out, "I never make a big case alone. We always work as a team. On all of the big cases, waterfowl, fishtraps or deer, it invariably takes a team of Officers to investigate large game law violations."
Besides waterfowl cases, the Platte river presents the problem of illegal fishtraps. "Woody" remembers two older violators that were "in my hair" for a couple of years.
"They were both well along in years, one was in his mid-sixties and the other well over 80. We found their trap and kept an eye on it. Finally, they came along in a few days to get the fish and we had our case. They were fined $64 each and that was that."
"The next year we found another fish trap and camped on it. When the violators came along, who do you think it was? Yes, the same two old codgers. Well, we took them to court again and they were fined $100 each and given 5 days in jail. We haven't run into them lately, so I guess they have ceased their fish trap activity", he concluded.
Besides the hard work involved in locating fish traps and the time consumed in waiting for the violators to show up to get the fish, "Woody" has another reason for not liking these cases. "Fish traps are a perfect example of greed," he says. "The fish trap violators are out to get all they can for themselves and to heck with everyone else. More people are realizing that fish traps are taking their fish and are reporting traps they run across
Working with the Commission airplane to spot fish traps from the air takes up much of Woodgate's time during the summer. Fish traps can usually be spotted from the air even though the water is fairly muddy.
Strangely enough, although "Woody" lives within a stones throw of one of the Fremont lakes, he doesn't do much fishing. "I am usually too busy during the summer to get much time to fish", he explains.
"Every weekend I have many fishermen almost in my yard, so I have plenty of checking to do. Most of them are pretty clean and don't leave much litter around. I make a patrol through the area every hour or so to encourage people to use the trash barrels. They are much more cooperative than they used to be. Still some of them just think the outdoors is a place to mess up with their picnic litter."
Back to talking about his first love— duck hunting, "Woody" told about one of his toughest cases. "Officer Wolkow from Omaha and I were working the Platte river for illegal duck shooting. We had reports of activity, but just hadn't located the violators. This night we were out was cold, awfully cold. There was a high wind and it was below zero."
"The river was still open in many places and we knew if the poachers wanted ducks they would be out this night. The ducks would be roosting on open water in sheltered coves along the river. After much walking and shivering, we finally located the violators. After we made the arrest and counted the ducks, we found they had taken 54 ducks that night. It was 1:00 A.M. by then and we didn't thaw out for a week," he exclaimed.
FOCUS THE PICTURE
Following are characteristics of a little noticed animal living underground and in streams and ponds of Nebraska. How many of the characteristics must you read before you can bring the picture into focus?
1. This is an Amphibian, spending part of its life cycle in water and part on land.
2. This animal has external gills for breathing in water when it is young or in the larval stage of growth.
3. The immature's tail has a fin that aids it in swimming.
4. It goes through a change in physical appearance, developing definite legs and feet, while the gills are absorbed and replaced with lungs for breathing.
5. When it is in the larval stage, its color is a drab brown without spots.
6. Adults are brown, gray or blackish with large light colored spots.
7. Unlike other common Nebraska Amphibians, this animal retains its tail throughout its life.
8. Its hind legs are about the same size as its front legs.
9. Many people mistakenly call them lizards.
10. Fishermen use it for bait and it is known by the common name of "Mud Puppy." Answer on page 25SPRING ISSUE 19
1955 Nebraska Big Deer Season
Research or 'Horse Sense' Or Is There A Difference?
PHIL JENKS cut the throttle on the old tractor and climbed down to where Gramps was waiting with the lunch basket in the shade of a big old gnarled cottonwood tree. "Boy, am I hungry," he said as he sat down by Gramps.
"How are you and Mary coming with the spring house cleaning, Gramps?" he asked.
"I sure wish she'd leave me alone," he answered. "A man my age shouldn't have to help with housework. I don't mind yard chores and such, but house cleanin'! Ain't proper for a man!" Gramps grumbled.
Phil flashed him a smile and said, "Now Gramp, you'd rather be helping her, instead of having her mad at you. She's got a temper when she's worked up, you know. Besides, she told me this morning that we're having cherry pie for supper and you are the only one that likes it." "Don't go tryin' to soft soap me," Gramps retorted, "you like it just as much as I do."
Phil grinned and reached into the lunch basket. Gramps sat down beside him and said, "Here's a letter you got this morning." Phil started munching on a sandwich and took the letter from Gramps. "It looks like that soil report I've been waiting on," he stated.
Both men were quiet while they ate. Phil was reading and Gramps was busy figuring how he could delay Phil from going back to plowing and thereby keep away from the spring house cleaning a little longer. "Sure hate to go back to that dad-blasted house cleaning," he muttered.
"Well, Gramps, this here report is sure going to help us this year. We won't be stumbling around in the dark, wondering and waiting until harvest to see if we did the right thing."
"What do you mean?" questioned Gramps, seizing on an opportunity to get Phil talking.
"You remember when I went around taking soil samples to send to the University in Lincoln?"
"How could I forget you runnin' all over the place with that oversize corkscrew you got from the County Agent?" Gramps sneered. "Never had no truck with those college boys, myself," he claimed.
"Gramp," Phil said, "that was a soil auger and I was collecting samples to find out what kind of soil we have, what kind and how much fertilizer to put on the fields and what kind of crops are best suited for our fields. You just can't keep taking from the soil without putting something back."
"Well, I farmed the place for 40 years before arthritis got me down and I never needed anyone to tell me how to do it," Gramps said glibly.
Phil poured himself another cup of coffee and tried to calm him down by saying, "The County Agent isn't telling me how to do anything. I went to him to get some help and he's just doing his job by giving me some help and advice."
"Well, Tom Mitchell is a pretty nice lad for a County Agent," Gramps conceded. "But, remember he was raised about ten miles from here," he added.
Ignoring this, Phil continued, "I don't know what kind of fertilizer we need, let alone how much we need to bring our fields up to a high level of fertility. The only way we can find out, without guessing, is to have soil tests; find out what type of soil we have and know for sure what our soil deficiancies really are. Maybe we should have more of a crop rotation program. You know what putting the south 80 into legumes for two years did to last year's corn yield," he reminded Gramps.
Phil didn't have to remind him, as that was a sore point with Gramps. "Well, you did get a pretty good yield, but you had a perfect growing year, too," Gramps claimed weakly.
Phil thought to himself, 'Gramps was a native Nebraskan, but you'd think he was from Missouri and had to be shown.'
"Anyway," Gramps said, trying to keep the conversation going, "how do those guys in Lincoln know anything about our soil."
"I wondered about that too, Gramps, until Tom Mitchell told me about the research and work that went into the study of soil all over the state. He says they are still studying it; hoping to find ways to better our farming practices."
"They started out by learning a few facts and kept looking until they got" a pretty good over-all picture. With these basic facts of the soil conditions, they worked out tests to tell what crops grow best on different kinds of soil, methods for finding out what chemicals were taken from the soil by crops and how to figure out the amounts and kinds of fertilizers to renovate the soil.
"If we didn't get the use of the soil testing service, we would still be able to farm, but it would take us a lot longer to get that new tractor I'm going to order. Maybe in the long run, I wouldn't be able to stay on the homestead place as long as you have, Gramps," Phil concluded.
Gramps started to continue the conversation with Phil. Phil cut him off short with, "Gramps, you get foxier every day. Here it's almost 1:30 and I've got to get back to work. You quit loafing around and get back to the house and help Mary or I'll eat your cherry pie tonight," he said with a look of mock sterness on his face.
Gramp's eyes twinkled over the extra 30 minutes he had gleaned from Phil as he stooped over to pick up the lunch basket. As he ambled off down the road, he was thinking about the new tractor Phil had mentioned. "Might even be a chance for me to drive it, if my arthritis would let up a little," he thought.
Both Gramps and Phil, in their own way, have a sense of value for the place of research—at least in farming. Although Gramps is a little reluctant to admit acceptance of new methods and changes, most of his reluctance can be charged off to keeping his self esteem. When the chips are down and it means getting the job done in the best way, most of us will accept research in our own fields of endeavor.
When research concerns our own work, we don't call it research. Instead, we say we are using 'common sense' or 'logic' or even the term 'good business.'
When research concerns a field in which we have little factual knowledge, we all are hesitant to accept it or the new methods resulting from it. Take the work of the mathematical genius Albert Einstein; his theory of relativity and the accompanying formula for energy have been the basis of many comedians' jokes. From his little understood work has come a new horizon for the progress of mankind—atomic energy.
Yet, in spite of the widespread publicity of atomic explosions; just how many of us have any idea of the power and extent of an atomic bomb? Civil defense experts are at their wits' end trying to make all of us realize the seriousness of atomic bomb attacks.
In the wildlife field, one of the greatest problems of administrators is getting the public to have faith in research programs and accepting management methods resulting from research.
In fact, this is such a grave problem that many Game Commissions havecontinued on Next Page 22 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA
even been forced to give special names for their research programs and the men that work on them. The research workers are tagged with titles such as fact finding teams, field technicians, field workers and many others. Even the title biologist has suffered from the public's reaction of not understanding.
If an explanation of the hesitancy of the public to accept wildlife research can be found, there are probably two basic reasons.
First, in spite of many years of hunting and fishing experience, the average person knows little about wildlife. Their personal observations are limited and give only a partial, distorted picture of the whole story.
Take the case of the pheasant hunter, late in the season. Most of the groups of birds he encounters are made up of hens. Roosters are pretty hard to find and are seldom in large flocks like the hens, after the advent of cold weather. A common conclusion, made by many hunters seeing only part of the picture, the large flocks of hens, is that too many roosters have been shot.
Actually, this is not the case. Game technicians, spending all their time in the field, have observed the complete picture and can show a different conclusion. They know positively that the pheasants group into flocks segregated by sex, with the first of the cold weather. The hens, not being hunted, are more tame and form big flocks.
The roosters, still being hunted, do not congregate in large flocks. They are very wary and tend to sneak around by themselves; running or flushing at the slightest suggestion of danger.
The technicians can prove the wary roosters are still there. Post season sex ratios, taken in the winter when most hunters have forgotten about hunting pheasants, show that we always have an ample supply of rooster pheasants.
Another reason for poor public support of wildlife research stems from the fact that wildlife research is just an infant, when compared with other kinds of research. We have only been studying wildlife for about two decades and just don't know much about it.
Generally speaking, we have a pretty good over-all picture. The position of Game Commissions today is that more detailed information is needed before much progress can be made in wildlife management.
This infant, wildlife research, hasn't received much nourishment in the form of money during this short 20 year span. Sportsmen haven't allowed much money to be invested into something they don't believe in. With the tremendous increase in hunting and fishing pressure in recent years, there have been many other things considered more important and therefore received a higher priority than research.
For the professional wildlife workers, either research or management technicians, conservation is a way of life. Their goal is the "Wise use of our renewable wildlife resources." Wise use does not imply non-use; but, rather, use of the harvestable surplus of each kind of wildlife, from fish to upland game birds.
Few of us even know the difference between game management and game research. Although there is a very fine line between the two, it is a definite and important line. Professional wildlife men themselves, in talking to the public, seldom mention this difference. They are prone to list all of their activities under the label "research."
Going back to our definition of conservation as "wise use" of our wildlife resources; we can find the basic difference between management and research.
Management is concerned with the use of these resources. You can readily see that the main concern of wildlife management is much like Phil Jenks' work—production of a crop.
Of course, wildlife crops are not harvested as closely as farm crops, but the principal is the same. In both crops there is a harvestable surplus; with the seed stock being left for the following year's production.
The majority of the work by game commission technicians is concerned with management. They are making continuous inventories of the wildlife crop. This gives factual information for the harvest or setting of seasons and limits.
Wildlife research is concerned with improving management or the means of production; much like the University's research work on soil that Phil Jenks mentioned to Gramps, is meant to improve the means of farm production.
Research programs are ultimately aimed at bettering the methods of production. However, the course to this goal usually falls into two categories.
One category is research studies on populations. How many and where are they located? What are their requirements for living? How do they live and what are their habits? These are just a few of the questions that population studies are designed for.
The other general field of study is the range of the animals. Where do they live? What are the charateristics of their habitat? What can be done to improve or provide additional habitat?
Range studies open an almost unlimited field for exploration of wildlife facts. As our land use is ever-changing, neglect of range studies can put a game commission in an untenable position; without the slightest idea of the real current situation of game populations.
Probably most studies or research programs are the commonly called "practical" kind. This type of work is planned to provide immediate answers and involves short-time projects. A good example of this would be deer checking stations in order to determine hunter success. Phil Jenks, taking soil samples, was actually doing some "practical" research in cooperation with the soil department of the University.
An even more important type of research is the so-called "fundamental" type. This type generally does not provide immediate or practical application for management. Some of it never is of practical value, that can be used directly in management.
Yet, this fundamental work is the most important kind of research. This fundamental work gives the technicians the details of the over-all picture. The picture, that a few short years of investigations has not made very clear. There are tremendous gaps in our knowledge of wildlife. Even if unlimited funds had been provided for research, we would still have much to learn.
The true picture of wildlife just hasn't been completed. If you could imagine an artist trying to paint a moving picture, you might begin to understand the position of wildlife research. Before he could even complete the picture, the picture itself is changing.
Wildlife populations are in a constant state of change from extreme highs to periods of low populations. We don't even know all the reasons behind these changes.
The use of the land is being radically changed by intense farming, drainage, grazing and cutting of timber. The effects of our present day agricultural revolution on wildlife is by no means clear. Or will it be clear until research or fact finding or plain investigation gives us the factual information of how these changes effect wildlife populations in detail.
Only you, the Nebraska sportsmen, can endorse and approve a good research program by your Game Commission. Most important, only you can honestly accept research program results with an open mind, free from prejudices of seeing only part of the picture.SPRING ISSUE 23
MATERIALS FOR TEACHERBy George E. Rotter Supervisor of Conservation Education Nebraska Department of Education
IT IS A GOOD teacher's dream and the answer to a good citizen's prayer to see the children and youth in our schools grow up to be men and women who are imbued with the ideals of good sportsmanship, who respect the rights and property of others, who cherish the land and are sensitive to the misuse of our natural resources.
The new conservation materials now available from the Nebraska Department of Education represent an effort to help our teachers who are seeking to build good citizens in our schools— citizens who feel a moral responsibility to act as faithful custodians of our natural resources—soil, water, minerals, trees, and wildlife.
During the last year the Department made a special effort to give an assist in wildlife conservation education. One of the publications, Wildlife Conservation for Nebraska Elementary Schools, provides opportunities for children from the kindergarten through grade eight to understand and develop wholesome attitudes regarding furbearing animals, song birds, game birds, and fish.
Even the children in the very earliest grades can begin to understand, for example, how different kinds of wildlife help us, why we should be kind to animals, and how we can help animals and birds. Older pupils tackle additional considerations, such as the importance of obeying game laws, the relationship of good sportsmanship to good citizenship, and what they and their classmates can do to help others be careful with firearms.
The publication entitled Making Land Produce Useful Wildlife was made available through the courtesy of the Soil Conservation Service. This carefully prepared pamphlet is an aid for high school teachers. The teacher's guide which accompanies this publication directs attention, for example, to crop land, pasture land, and woodland management practices which are beneficial or harmful to wildlife.
Naturally, these materials are available to all Nebraska teachers. Requests for them should be made through the county or city superintendent of schools.
A Look At A New BookOUR WILDLIFE LEGACY By Durward Allen, Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York, N. Y.
Here is a book that children in the upper grades and high school can use to fit the wildlife picture into their general conservation course. This book alone would give a child a solid background in the conservation of natural resources in spite of the fact the main stress is on wildlife.
For the post-school adult, the myths, half-truths and misconceptions of "barber shop biology" will fade into firm factual information after reading this book. Allen takes great care to build up a solid background of fact for each principle of conservation put forth in his book. He cites evidence to technical workers and in many cases explains in detail how the evidence was collected and analyzed.
Another reason for this book's importance is that it is easy to read and understand. If the reader is searching for an authoritative book on wildlife that is not complicated, his search is ended.
The book is in three parts. The first is "Numbers at Work," seven chapters of the how, why and when of wildlife population increases and decreases. Allen points out some of the known reasons for the population changes and stresses the point that we are only beginning to get some of the answers to these changes.
"Paths and By-Paths," the second part of the book, has eight chapters that deal with harvesting game crops, evaluates released game, predators, and points out how the public's misconceptions and belief in myths often makes it impossible for managers to use good game management.
"Method and Outlook," part three, tells the readers what our failures have been in the past, what they are at the present and gives a dark picture of the future unless people face up to their responsibilities—and quickly.
Soil Bank Plan Continued from page 18
In just the last ten years, the farm population has dropped from 18% to 14% of the total population. With mechanization and industrialization of our farms this trend is seemingly inevitable.
The committee has said the full cost of the program would be hard to estimate, but an approximation might be reached - by calculating average cash rental prices for land. It is believed probable that 60 million acres could be transferred from production to restoration at an average cost of about $7.50 per acre, or $450,000,000 a year. This includes some lands that would rent at a much lower figure, some at a much higher figure.
It likewise is difficult to estimate the present price support program, due in part to the fact that some of the costs are involved in other USDA activities. The magazine Newsweek, in September 1954, estimated the loss on the 1954 crop would be 450 million, and that at the end of the crop year the Commodity Credit Corp. would have nearly 10 billions of dollars invested in surpluses. Assuming that the figure is about 8 billions of dollars, it is probable the combined interest, storage and deterioration losses would reach 500 to 600 millions of dollars a year just to hold the surpluses.
A positive program to eliminate the surplus problem, and at the same time give soil conserving benefits to 50 to 70 million acres most badly in need of conservation, should be considered a bargain even at a billion dollars a year.
It should be possible to reduce the present ACP program to help provide funds for this program. Existing USDA agencies could be adjusted to carry it out. This program could be superimposed on the present price support program with a reduction in the price support level as the effects of this program were felt.OPEN RESERVATIONS There are still a few open dates for cabin reservations at Nebraska State Parks. You can arrange for accomodations by writing: L. M. Snodgrass, Chadron State Park Dallas Johnson, Ponca State Park Paul Meyer, Niobrara State Park H. E. Jones, Victoria Springs State Park
TREES FOR NEBRASKA YOUNGSTERS
AN INTEREST in trees and a hobby of metal working has developed, for W. R. McGeachin, Lincoln, a plan for stimulating Nebraska school children in tree planting.
His interest in trees began years ago when he bought a cabin in the Black Hills country. Contact with foresters in a nearby Ranger Station added to his knowledge of trees. It soon became a family tradition to plant trees at the cabin site each vacation time.
A unique idea stemmed from his metal working hobby. Each new tree was tagged with an aluminum tag with the planter's name and the date of the planting. McGeachin says, "The personal tag on the tree assured careful attention to the planting and annual care on our future trips to the cabin. Everyone in the family has fond memories of when they planted their trees. Some of the trees are 20 years old and 20 feet high," he stated.
Observing how the tags instilled the annual care of the trees at his own cabin and also for some that were brought back to Lincoln, McGeachin felt he had something.
He has now arranged for private financing of the tree planting kits to be made available to youngsters in Nebraska schools. Included in the kit are young trees and aluminum name tags.
During the spring of 1955 he arranged five pilot projects with the cooperation of local service clubs such as the Rotary and Lion's clubs. Over 600 trees were planted in Wahoo, Crete, Madison, Aurora and Orleans this year.
McGeachin hopes that records can be kept on the individual plantings and a system of competition can be developed between schools, with some type of reward for the school with the highest survival of new plantings.
"OUTDOOR NEBRASKA ON THE AIRKXXX KCNI KCOW KCSR KGFW KJSK KMMJ KBRL KFOR WJAG Colby, Kansas; 6:30 a.m. on Sun. 790 kc Broken, Bow, Nebr.; 12:45 p.m. on Sat. 1280 kc Alliance, Nebr.; 8:30 p.m. on Tues. 1400 kc Chadron, Nebr.; 11:30 a.m. on Sat. 1450 kc Kearney, Nebr.; 5:30 p.m. on Sat. 1340 kc Columbus, Nebr.; 1:45 p.m. on Mon. Grand Island, Nebr.; 10:15 a.m. on Sun. 750 kc McCook, Nebr.; 10:15 a.m. on Sunl4 1450 kc Lincoln, Nebr.; 5:15 p.m. on Sat. 1240 kc Norfolk, Nebr.; 8:30 a.m. on Sun. 780 kc KODY North Platte, Nebr.; 10:45 a.m. on Sun. 1240 kc KOLT Scottsbluff, Nebr.; 9:15 p.m. on Sat. 1320 kc KRVN Lexington, Nebr.; 8:30 a.m. on Sat. 1010 kc WOW Omaha, Nebr.; 10:15 a.m. on Sun. 590 kc KFGT Fremont, Nebr.; 5:15 p.m. on Mon. 1340 kc KHAS Hastings, Nebr.; 5:15 p.m. on Sat. 1230 kc KSID Sidney, Nebr.; 4:00 p.m. on Wed. KOGA Ogallala, Nebr. 930 kc
Dan Smith, Beatrice, took this trophy mule deer near Harrison on opening day of the 1954 deer season.
L. E. Nagel holds up a 3 lb. 1 oz. while crappie, he caught in April near Naper, Neb. It measured 17l/2 inches long.
Notes On NEBRASKA FAUNA
THE "family fish" or crappie is the species of interest in this issue of Outdoor Nebraska—and well it should be, as we are entering the season during which crappie fishing is at its best.
Crappies are members of the sunfish family, which also includes the black bass, bluegill, rock bass and warmouth.
Two kinds of crappie, the white and black crappie, are found in Nebraska. Both species are silver in color with black mottling. The drawing is of black crappies.
Black crappies usually have more dark mottling than do the white crappies, however, a good rule-of-thumb method to use in distinguishing the two is counting the total number of spines in the dorsal or top fin. If the fish has six spines, you can be quite certain you have a white crappie. If seven or eight spines can be counted, the fish is a black crappie, many times called the calico bass.
The two species differ as to the waters they prefer. The white crappie seems to thrive best in turbid waters while the black crappie is usually found in relatively clear water. The saucer shape of both species indicates their preferred habitat of relatively still water. They thrive in the natural lakes, river oxbows and sandpits of the state but generally do not do well in our smaller farmponds.
Studies carried out by the fisheries research division of the Nebraska Game Commission indicated tiny crustaceans are the major food for crappies until they are 4-6 in. in length. After the fish are six inches, they eat mostly small fish. Further evidence of this is the fact that small minnows, two inches or less in length, are used by most fishermen when crappie fishing.
Little is known of the life history of crappies; however, Donald Hansen, working under the direction of the Illinois Natural History Survey Division, has studied the crappie and accumulated information available from other sources on the life history of the crappies; the white crappie in particular.
His work and the works of others show that crappies do not fan out nests as deep as those of other members of the sunfish family when spawning and that crappie eggs are almost invariably attached to some form of aquatic vegetation or brush, if such is available. Eggs have been found in water from one foot to twenty feet in depth.
Experiments indicate the egg production of black crappies varies from 27,000 to 68,000 per adult female. A 1 1/2-lb. black crappie may have as many as 140,000 eggs in its ovaries. Spawning usually occurs in May and June. From the little information available, it appears the eggs hatch about one week after spawning; however, a raising or lowering of temperature will hasten or prolong the time of incubation.
Average growth of the crappies in Nebraska agrees with growth rates of other areas of the same latitude: 5-inch fish—1 year old; 71/2-inch fish—2 years old; 9-inch fish—3 years old; 101/2-inch fish—4 years old; 11-inch fish—5 years old; and 12-inch fish—6 years old.
These are only averages and the growth rates in a particular body of water will vary with the amount of food and space available to the fish.
Of the sunfish family, the crappie may be known as the "deep water" fish, whereas bass, bluegill and sunfish are usually taken in relatively shallow water. Crappie are usually caught at depths varying from 4 to 16 feet depending on the season and the water temperature.
The best fishing occurs in the spring before the fish population of the lake has spawned. After the hatch has occurred and millions of fingerlings have been produced, crappie fishing falls off, presumably because the great number of small fish, then available as food, which give the fisherman's bait minnow stiff competition.
Methods used in crappie fishing vary; however, following is a bait fishing method from a boat which usually pays dividends. The hook is tied to a four foot nylon leader. A small bobber is attached so that it may be raised or lowered as various areas of the lake are fished. The minnow is attached to the hook by slipping the barb through the flesh along the dorsal fin. Care must be taken not to thrust the hook through the backbone.
A minnow hooked along the dorsal fin will swim naturally for a long period of time. Remember, live minnows always catch more crappies than dead ones. A sinker is usually not necessary in this type of arrangement. Slow trolling and rowing about the lake, probably fishing for a time near brush piles or inundated trees, will generally produce results.
If one crappie is taken, do not move on, but fish in the immediate area. Crappies are a school fish. By this we mean they travel in groups, so if you get one you have a good chance of filling your bag limit from one location.
Good crappie catches are also made on artificial lures. Spinning with a small spoon, wobbler, or spinner attached usually produces good results.
Before inundation on areas such as Grove Lake and Gavins Point reservoir, the Nebraska Game Commission has constructed artificial fish attractors. Brush piles, 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 10 feet high have been permanently secured to stumps by cables. They have been built with the idea in mind that crappies and other fish are most generally caught in areas of submerged timber and vegetation.
Aside from the possibility of these areas being used as spawning sites, the primary pur-pose of the attractors is to serve as cover for young fish. Larger crappie, bass, and other fish-eating species will be drawn to the brush pile areas in search of food. Fishing in the vicinity of the attractors should be excellent sport.26 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA