We are three months into 2017 and yes, I have some new state record fish to tell you about. . . .
I have three new state records to report on, all of them taken by rod & reel. The first was caught back on the third day of the new year, and the angler who caught it surely believes I have forgotten about getting his state record certificate to him. . . .
On Jan. 3, Kelly Macke of Lincoln pulled a beautiful 1 pound 14 ounce redear sunfish through an ice hole on Wildwood Reservoir.
Kelly’s fish was 11 3/4 inches long and ate a tungsten jig and wax worm, pretty standard fair for ice-fishing.
If you keep up with internet “chatter” you likely heard about this fish weeks ago, but I am just clearing state record applications off my desk for the first time in 2017. Sorry to make you wait so long, Kelly.
Kelly’s fish beat our old redear sunfish record by just 4 ounces, but that was a record that had been on the books since 1989! Redear sunfish certainly can grow much larger than a couple of pounds, and perhaps we will see that record pushed higher in coming years. We do have more fisheries in Nebraska now that have redears. However, redear sunfish are a warm-water species who’s native range is east and south of Nebraska. In some Nebraska waters, we can see significant winter mortality of redears and I am afraid that might limit the ultimate size this species might reach in our waters. I certainly would think that a 2-pound redear would be a possibility, though.
The next new record to tell you about also takes some explanation: Wade Williby caught a 3 pound 0 ounce triploid crappie from Kea Lake, the interstate lake at the Kearney I-80 interchange. That fish was 17 inches long and just clipped the existing triploid crappie record by a little more than an ounce.
Wade knew what he was after; he was fishing Kea Lake on March 5 hoping for a big, potential state record, triploid crappie. The fish ate a silver jig.
Now let me again explain what a “triploid” crappie is. . . . A few years ago we produced some of these fish in our state fish hatcheries and stocked them in a handful of waters. “Triploid” refers to the fact that these fish have an extra set of chromosomes and that is achieved by pressure-treating the eggs shortly after fertilization. Why in the world would mad, pointy-headed fish biologists do that? Without an extensive college biology lesson, let’s just say that being triploid makes them functionally sterile. That, theoretically, is a desirable trait for some fish because by being sterile they can divert more energy into growth instead of to the production of eggs and milt. The idea is that triploid fish can grow faster, get bigger, quicker. At least that is the theory, in “the wild” actual performance can be different than what is expected.
So, some of those triploid crappies were stocked in a limited number of Nebraska waters a few years back, and Kea Lake at Kearney can still produce one of those big fish. Hatchery production of triploid crappie is not easily done, and we have not stocked any more in Nebraska waters for a number of years now. You will NOT catch any triploid crappies from any Nebraska waters with the exception of Kea Lake; that is the only water where we will recognize a state record for triploid crappie at this time. That record could go higher, but I am betting there are fewer and fewer of those triploid crappies in Kea Lake as time passes. There ain’t many there now.
And then there are tiger trout, brown trout X brook trout hybrids. Again let me digress and recount that whole story again. . . .
Once upon a time, we used to see a naturally-produced tiger trout from time to time in a few Pine Ridge streams where both brown trout and brook trout are present. The first fish we recognized as state records for tiger trout were fish caught from those streams.
Tiger trout can also be produced in fish hatcheries and once again, in recent years, our Nebraska state fish hatcheries produced some of those hybrids and they were stocked in a few waters around the state. Last year at this time we had a couple of tiger trout caught by rod & reel certified as new state records and I anticipated that record would continue to push larger.
Douglas Hyde of McCook is the latest angler to raise the bar on the rod & reel tiger trout record. On March 11, Douglas was taking advantage of the hot bite at Lake Maloney early this spring when he caught a 2 pound 1 ounce tiger trout at the inlet. Douglas’ fish was 18 3/8 inches long and ate a minnow.
Now, if you rush to the stocking database, you are going to find no records of tiger trout being stocked in Lake Maloney. As a matter of fact, no species of trout has been stocked in Lake Maloney for a long, long time. However, tiger trout were stocked in Lake Ogallala, and from there they can move down through the canal system to Sutherland Reservoir and then on down to Lake Maloney. I have caught a rainbow trout from Sutherland myself, and have heard of trout being caught down the canal system as far as Johnson Reservoir. So, if you are looking to catch the next state record tiger trout, NO, I would not spend any time fishing at the inlet to Lake Maloney, but it is one of those places where there are fish moving through and surprises can show up!
The bulk of our open-water fishing still lies ahead. I am sure this will not be the only state record update for 2017! All of the state record rules and an application form can be found in every copy of the 2017 Fishing Guide. Take a minute, look it over, you never know!