A few weeks ago I told you about the 2014 High School Bass Fishing Championship held at Merritt Reservoir. I want to return to that event in this blog post because there was something else about that day that I think was really special.
When the state high school bass championship was held at Merritt this year, there was also a Nebraska Walleye Association tournament at the same time. As a matter of fact the NWA folks were kind enough to offer the use of their tournament trailer, scales and equipment for the high school bass anglers! Thank you Nebraska Walleye Association!
There were a lot of boats using the ramps at the same time, but there was plenty of parking so having two tournaments at the same time went off without a hitch. I thought everything went very well, and it provided folks with an unique opportunity–a bass tournament and walleye tournament on the same Nebraska reservoir at the same time.
I ended up weighing bass for the high school anglers and also weighed fish for some of the walleye anglers who wanted to weigh some of their fish early. The scales were busy for awhile but we managed to handle all of the fish in a short period of time and get them back into the water. There was a period where I was weighing bass for one team and then turned around and weighed walleyes for the next team! We even had to snap a picture of a walleye and bass together in the same tournament holding tank!
I am always touting the variety of fishing opportunities we have in Nebraska. As many are quick to point out, it is my job to brag up Nebraska fishing. I also am a born and bred, life-long and several generation Nebraskan. I bleed red, Nebraska is home! Before you think I am just bragging it up again, consider this: Here is the leader board for the bass tournament:
The winning high school bass anglers weighed 5 fish for a total weight of over 15 pounds–an average of better than 3 pounds per bass with a big fish that weighed over 4 pounds. Most of the bass were largemouths, but there were a couple of smallmouth bass weighed too. There were a few of the high school bass anglers that “bageled”, weighed no fish, but the majority of teams caught bass. That is not a bad day of bass fishing anywhere, and not bad at all for an irrigation reservoir in a northern state like Nebraska.
At the same time, the walleye anglers were doing very well, there were a lot of grinning faces at their weigh-in right after the high school bass anglers. Here is the leader board for the walleye tournament:
Take a close look at the walleye leader board–every team that fished weighed fish. The winning team had a 5-fish tournament bag that weighed over 25 pounds with a big fish that was almost 8 pounds. Again those are very respectable weights for a bag of 5 walleyes, anywhere, anytime.
And then stop to think that the walleye anglers and the bass anglers were fishing the same Nebraska reservoir at the same time! Sorry, but I think that was very cool and I am proud of the fish they caught.
To kick it up another notch or three, Merritt Reservoir has excellent fishing for several species of panfish, is the best muskie fishery in the state and produces some big channel catfish as well. In fact, just recently I have been told that a catfish tournament at Merritt resulted in 5-fish winning weights in excess of 90 pounds! Now, I may be biased, but where else could you catch that variety of fish of that quality?
Merritt Reservoir is an irrigation reservoir and does suffer annual summer draw downs, but it also has the luxury of filling with clean water every spring and the reservoir is large enough and has enough diversity to offer habitats for several species of fish. Merritt may be one of the best multi-species fisheries in the state, but it is by no means the only one. I am always saying that Nebraska is a place where “east” meets “west” and “north” meets “south”. We may not have as much water as some of our neighboring states, but we offer quality fishing for a variety of species of fish. And in some cases we offer quality fishing for a variety of species in the same body of water at the same time!
Is this a great state or what?