After a vacation break from fishing I was eager to get back on the lake last weekend.
I considered several options. I went to Lake Minatare, because it would provide the shortest route home after I was done. The weather started out cool but got hotter toward late morning. I fished for five hours and got two bites. I lost both of them.
One of them was the proverbial one-that-got-away. Whatever it was, it was big. It pulled out some line. It wallowed so slowly that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had turned out to be a snapping turtle. It was probably a big carp.
End of adventure.
What I learned from all that is that the summer fishing has definitely slipped into the doldrums. Some people argue that the fish get sluggish in warm water. Others claim — more accurately, I believe — that they have plenty to eat this time of year, with this year’s forage fry gaining size, and are feeling no desperation about when and where their next meal will show up. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m not telling you to stay home, but I can find other uses for five hours of my time that don’t require baking under a hot summer sun.
In fact, I have a couple of plans coming up — a trip to Wyoming high country and maybe chasing around at dusk after schools of white bass — but this column will become a little more intermittent until later in the fall. You can still turn in your entries for our annual big fish contest. It will run through Labor Day, Sept. 5, about a month from now.
Meanwhile, I’ll lean toward passing along other outdoor-related news from Nebraska Game and Parks and other sources.
If you hunt fall turkeys, you can begin purchasing permits Aug. 8 at noon. The fall turkey season runs Sept. 15 through Jan. 31, 2017. Permits will be available at OutdoorNebraska.org and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission permitting offices. A fall turkey permit, valid statewide, allows you to shoot two turkeys, of either sex, with a shotgun or bow. You can buy two permits. Kids can participate.
If your preference is quail or pheasant, the outlook this year is good. Early reports indicate that winter survival was good for pheasants, quail and other upland game in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s upland bird harvest saw a big increase last year, and hunter participation was up. That’s according to a Game and Parks harvest survey. Pheasant harvest was up by 26 percent. During the 2015 season, 166,285 rooster pheasants were harvested, compared to 131,423 during the 2014 season. Quail harvest increased by 73 percent, with 91,472 quail harvested in 2015, compared to 52,947 birds in 2014.
In addition, resident small game permit sales were up in 2015 by 2 percent and nonresident small game permits were up by 23 percent. Game and Parks attribute the improvements to some relief from previous dought conditions.
Earlier this year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission unveiled The Berggren Plan for Pheasants, an aggressive and innovative five-year pheasant management plan. The Berggren Plan strives to provide the best pheasant hunting experience for the most hunters by growing pheasant populations and increasing the quality and quantity of upland bird habitat. Habitat improvement work has already begun in several areas across the state, with much more to be done in the coming years.
If you do hunt any other migratory birds, including doves, ducks, geese, snipe, rail, coots and woodcock, Game and Parks requires you to register to register for the Harvest Information Program. Registration began Aug. 1.
HIP registration is required of residents age 16 and older and all nonresidents who plan to hunt migratory game birds in Nebraska between Aug. 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017. Among those who must register in Nebraska are hunters registered in another state and holders of lifetime, 64-and-over veteran, and 69-and-over senior permits.
HIP is required by federal regulations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helping wildlife managers estimate the number of migratory birds harvested each year. Those estimates help biologists set limits and seasons.
Register for the free program at OutdoorNebraska.gov/HIP or call toll-free at 877-634-8687. Registered hunters are assigned a number that they must carry with them while hunting.
Hunting permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.