Let me give you a summary of last year’s state record fish, and make some comments.
There were 14 fish certified as state records in 2013. There were 4 rod & reel records; creek chub, European rudd, longnose gar, and tiger trout caught in 2013. Six bow-fishing records were certified last year; alewife, blue catfish, shortnose gar, smallmouth bass, flathead chub, and wiper. Two underwater spear-fishing records were taken in 2013; common carp and smallmouth buffalo, and 2 surface spear-fishing records; shortnose gar and European rudd. The most state record activity continues to be in the spear-fishing and bow-fishing categories simply because the rod & reel records have been established longer with larger fish.
The biggest state record fish taken last year was a 40 pound 13 ounce blue catfish arrowed by Josh Kern last July. In the picture, the fish looks as big as Josh!
The smallest state record certified in 2013 was also taken by archery; a 2 ounce, 7.25 inch alewife was arrowed by Ryan Reynolds also last July.
I sometimes wonder if we should recognize the biggest fish taken by archery or the smallest? Is it a greater accomplishment to take the largest specimen or hit a little fish with an arrow?
This is my solely my opinion, but I believe the prettiest and most interesting state record fish taken last year was a tiger trout caught by fly-rod and reel by Scott Johnson last May.
Tiger trout are a hybrid fish, the result of brook trout and brown trout spawning together. Tiger trout are produced in hatcheries and stocked in some waters around the country, but have never been stocked in Nebraska. We have naturally-reproducing populations of both brown and brook trout in Soldiers Creek west of Ft. Robinson, and apparently those two species do a little cross-breeding out there once in awhile.
Now, this is just a summary of our 2013 state record fish. If you want to read more details, and see more pictures of all the fish I mentioned, you will have to go back and read some of my old blog posts:
If you want to see a current, complete list of all of our state record fish, you can see it here, Nebraska Record Fish. Some of you will look close enough at that list and notice some changes. You will see that I have added the length of the state record fish for those state records which had that information recorded. Months ago Nebraska anglers suggested that as a way they could judge the potential of a fish being a state record before they decided to go through the certification process. To qualify for a state record, a fish must be weighed on certified scales, witnessed, and verified by a Nebraska Game & Parks Commission fisheries biologist. Although it is not entirely impossible to have a record certified without sacrificing the fish, most likely a record-size fish will perish from the capture, holding, and handling. With an idea of the length of existing record fish, anglers can make a better judgement on whether a fish in their hands might have a chance of besting a state record. Knowing that, many anglers will choose to release a big fish, rather than sacrifice it for certification only to find out it comes up short and light.
In light of the capture and release of some big fish through the ice this winter (Big Fish, Big Fish! It’s Happened Again!) , let me continue this catch & release discussion. We do not recognize catch & release state records and we have no plan to do so. There are too many ways to falsify the catch and release of big fish, and at this point I do not believe a list of catch & release state record fish would be verifiable or legitimate. However, I absolutely applaud those anglers who catch what may be record fish and choose to release them! I am all for that, and hope I have a chance one of these days to do the same thing! Again, the lengths listed for our existing state record fish can be used as a benchmark in qualifying a caught & released fish for unofficial catch & release state record status. Those anglers who catch such fish have every right to brag about their unofficial state records and in fact I will continue to help them brag!
One of the things I love about fishing is the unknown. You never know. I always expect to catch the biggest fish in the “lake” every time I go fishing and in fact that is my goal, that is what drives me much of the time. Most of the time that does not happen, but who knows? One of these days you might end up with a state record at the end of your line. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the state record rules, they can be found in every copy of the Fishing Guide. Next year you might see your name mentioned here!