I am often asked how much we communicate with pointy-headed fisheries biologists in other states. Come to think of it, sometimes I am not asked that question so much as am told that “you guys need to do what they do in _________________________ (fill in blank with your favorite non-Nebraska state). Actually we are very aware of what fisheries biologists in other states are doing, communicate with them frequently, and by they way, they know very much what we are doing too (they here from their anglers that they should be doing what we do in Nebraska).
A lot of that communication occurs on an individual basis, but we also have formal meetings and conferences where lots of pointy-headed fisheries and wildlife biologists get together. Right now let me tell you a little bit about one of those conferences: Recently Nebraska hosted the annual summer meeting of WAFWA–the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, http://www.wafwa.org/ . Most of the attendees at this meeting were directors of state fish & wildlife agencies along with some of the commissioners from those western fish & wildlife agencies. In addition a few high level staff and biologists attended as well as a variety of folks from Federal agencies.
I had nothing to do with the business and meetings of this conference, but since Nebraska was the host state, a lot of us were involved in making our guests feel at home. Many of us helped with the social/carnival on one evening and we had some field trips to get our guests out of the hotel for awhile and show them some of what Nebraska has to offer. Let me just show some pictures and tell some stories.
We had a couple of field trips where we took some folks fishing. Now, the conference was held in Omaha, and we could not haul our guests halfway across the state to show them some of our larger reservoirs. We had to make due with the fishing opportunities we have close to Omaha. One morning a bunch of the directors and a few other folks fished Lake Wanahoo. In the boat I “guided” in we had a gentleman from Nevada and one from D.C./Idaho (if I recall he lived in Idaho, but spent most of his time in D.C. and traveling the country). Anyway, our strategy that morning was to fish for a variety of species, just try to put fish in the boat.
Started flipping some jigs for bass. . . .
Then we slipped over to a channel break and caught a bunch of bluegills and small bass. With about 20 minutes left to fish, I suggested that we might try a couple of trolling passes on the way back to the ramp, might pick up a pike.
Everyone said they had a great time. I know they liked spending some time on a field trip instead of just sitting in a meeting or in a hotel room. I understand a couple of directors from “out west” had more fun catching and releasing bullfrogs than they did catching fish. They almost missed the bus!
I tried not to fish too much while we had guests in the boat. Never fear, I managed to dry off a nice fish or two.
There was a social down by the river one evening. We sat up a little “carnival” for entertainment. There were some shady-looking characters hanging around the place.
One of the games we schemed up was to launch stuffed silver carp pillows at a couple of mannequins sitting in a boat. I stood behind the backstop and caught errant shots in a dip-net.
“Launch a carp, nail a noggin’, win a fish on a stick”!
There was a field trip onto the Missouri River that was a big hit. In fact, it was such a big hit we had a special request to take some more guests on the river the last evening before they headed for home. I got to “guide” on that second trip. We put in at N.P. Dodge Park in north Omaha, motored across the river, pulled in behind a wing dike and almost instantly had all the silver carp that we needed for cut bait jump right in the boat with us. The folks from out west had heard about the jumping carp, but none of them had experienced them. They got a kick, and a slimy fish or two, out of that.
I had three folks from Utah in my boat that evening; mostly they worked with wildlife, but we got along OK anyway (Ha).
Find a wing dike and get the lines out.
The other boat sat up on a current break.
Got a flatty!
And just before we quit, a shortnose gar.
It was a beautiful evening on the river that night. Leave ’em with a sunset. . .
I know some of my hard-core fishing buddies are thinking, “ah, they didn’t catch much”. Well, maybe not. But, we had a beautiful night on the river and I know my guests enjoyed the fresh air. None of them had ever seen a flathead catfish nor a shortnose gar. They thought that was very cool. They also were thrilled with the eastern kingbirds, red headed woodpecker, and great blue heron we saw; more critters that they did not have many of, if any, back where they call home. One of them spotted a hummingbird in a willow along the river bank that evening (I still do not know how he did that, but sure enough, there was a hummingbird). More than once I heard comments about how great it was that we had all of this water in Nebraska. That one made me scratch my head a little bit, but you know, if you think about it, it is all about perspective, and it is nice to be reminded that our home state is pretty special.
There is no place like Nebraska.
(I stole the carnival pictures from Jenny N. Thanks Jenny!).