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A Couple of Updates, Nov. 2, 2018

I know what I am going to post will be of interest to only a couple of small areas of Nebraska, but if you are one of the anglers within those small areas, these news releases will be of interest to you.  I also realize that these news items have been making the rounds and many are already aware, but something else I have learned after several years of blogging is that the more you can “spread the word” the better.  So, here goes. . . .

Crystal Springs Trout Stocking

Trout stocking at Crystal Springs delayed

LINCOLN, Neb. — The stocking of rainbow trout at Crystal Springs Park in Fairbury has been delayed until a population of cormorants departs the area.

Once the fish-eating birds leave, the Grove Trout Rearing Station in Royal will contact city officials, likely next week, and schedule a date to deliver and stock 1,000 trout.

To locate past stockings, visit the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s fish stocking database at outdoornebraska.gov/fishstockingprogram.

ax082_1470_9
Justin Haag photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine.

Let me offer a few comments about double-crested cormorants. . . .

Yes, double-crested cormorants eat fish and in some cases can be a serious threat to fisheries.  Obviously, that is why we are holding off on stocking trout at Crystal Springs in Fairbury.

Cormorant numbers peak in Nebraska in spring and fall during migrations.  Yes, there are some double-crested cormorants that may be in the state all summer long, and some may even nest here, but by far the biggest concentrations occur during spring and fall.  That means, thankfully, that they do not stay and continue to pound the fish communities in some waters, especially small waterbodies.

Double-crested cormorants are protected by federal regulations; therefore, there are only a few options available to us when the cormorants are present and eating fish.  No, we CANNOT go out at Crystal Springs and use lethal methods of control.  Regulations in some states have been relaxed to manage cormorant populations on some waters, but Nebraska is not one of those states at this time.

So, we will hold off on the put & take trout stocking at Crystal Springs until the cormorants move along.  Stay tuned.

Cunningham Reservoir

There has been a lot of talk about Glenn Cunningham Reservoir in north Omaha.  I have not offered much comment about that because I was waiting on this news release:

CunninghamNewsRelease30Oct2018

Believe me I have already heard a lot of questions and discussion about zebra mussels at Cunningham and what is going to happen there.  As the news release says, the plan of action is one that was decided jointly between the listed government entities.  You can disagree with that decision if you wish, but we believe this is the best course of action at this time to limit the spread of zebra mussels.  No, we may not be able to drain every waterbody where zebra mussels show up, and I realize the challenges we face in trying to control the spread of aquatic invasive species.  I also know that we have a responsibility to do our best to protect our fisheries resources.  In the case of Cunningham, draining, drying and freezing zebra mussels is an option and that is going to be done.

Yes, the same thing was done at Lake Zorinsky a few years back.  No zebra mussels have been confirmed at Zorinsky since then.  Yes, there was a suspect microscopic mussel larvae sampled at Zorinsky a couple of years ago, but there has been no confirmation of zebra mussels in Zorinsky since then and no additional larvae have been sampled.  Positive identification of microscopic mussel larvae can be tricky and that is why waterbodies are only considered “suspect” when larvae are sampled.  Confirmation of zebra mussels requires documentation of adult mussels being present.  So, do NOT tell me that the draining, drying and freezing at Zorinsky was not successful.  Until adult zebra mussels are confirmed there, it was not a failure.

Cunningham also has common carp present in it, and once again if water levels are going to be dropped, we have a perfect opportunity to renovate the fishery to get rid of common carp.  We are going to take advantage of that opportunity.

Rumors are flying about liberalized or relaxed fishing regulations at Cunningham.  THOSE ARE NOT TRUE!  No bag limits, length limits, or any other regulations have been liberalized at Cunningham.  ALL fishing rules and regulations remain in effect.

Some will question “why not liberalize fishing regulations at Cunningham?”, again, believe me, I have heard.  All I can tell you is that was the decision in this case.  I believe that the last time Cunningham was drained and renovated, fishing regulations were relaxed and folks tried to get every last fish out of there.  In doing so, some got stuck in the muck and mud even to the point of asking for emergency assistance.  I believe it is hoped that leaving fishing rules and regulations “as is” this time will eliminate some of those problems.  You also may find some access to Cunningham has been closed.

I have also been asked about fish salvage efforts at Cunningham?  Again, I am just passing along the decision in this case, and that is that no efforts will be made to salvage desirable fish and move them to other waters.  We do not want to risk moving zebra mussels to other waters.  In addition, the outlet structure at Cunningham is a design that will allow almost all of the water to be drained from the reservoir, so there should be very few desirable fish left when the renovation is done.  Yes, that means they will go through the outlet and down Little Papillion Creek.

No, that does not mean zebra mussels will be flushed down Little Papillion Creek.  Adult zebra mussels do not have legs and they remain attached to whatever object or substrate they attach to.  Larval zebra mussels are present only during warm water months and none will be present in the water being released from Cunningham at this time.

I know what is going to happen at Cunningham is going to be a hardship to some anglers.  I wish it were not so.  I wish zebra mussels had not been transported to Cunningham.  Let me again emphasize the importance of all water-based recreationists, especially boaters, practicing CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE!

Cunningham Lake
Eric Fowler photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine.

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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