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Western Adventure

NOTE:  THIS IS MY BLOG AND I OFTEN POST WHERE I HAVE BEEN, WHAT I HAVE DONE AND WHAT I HAVE CAUGHT.  AT TIMES SOME OF THOSE THINGS ARE OF A PERSONAL NATURE.  THIS PARTICULAR POST WILL NOT BE SPECIFICALLY ABOUT FISHING IN NEBRASKA.  I WAS OUTTA STATE.  SO, IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ IT, DON’T.  HOWEVER, IT WILL INCLUDE FISH AND FISHING AND I WILL MAKE SOME COMMENTS RELATING TO NEBRASKA NEAR THE END.

My family and I took a trip out of state a week ago.  We had a wedding to attend, my niece’s wedding.  Yes, we spent a lot of time with family, great times!  Of course, the fishing gear went along too.

First, let me tell you about the wedding.  It was an outdoor wedding.  The wind blew 45 mph.  It was “touch and go” for a while, but with an hour delay it went as planned.  The boys and I joked that it was a good day for a wedding because it was too windy to fish.

The view was spectacular!

HollyWedding

I admit I did not pay a lot of attention to the ceremony.  I was busy staring off, looking for an elk to walk up out of a canyon someplace.

Congratulations, Holly and John!  Would not have missed it for anything, even 45 mph wind or rattlesnakes.  (We did not find the rattlesnake until the day after.)

After tearing down wedding stuff, we went sight-seeing with family.  We had a great time together; got the chipmunks ready for winter.  Spotted a big bull elk a mountain away.

FamilyPicMountain2020

Then we fished.  My son, fly-guide nephew and I spent the next two days on the water.  It was glorious.  We drifted 20 miles one day, around 8 the next.  On those two days we saw exactly one other party fishing!

The views were again spectacular.

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My nephew has a drift boat and a raft, we used each.  He guides fly-fishers all the time.  When my son and I are with him, we are on a big fish hunt.  We do not care about numbers, do not really care how we catch them, just the bigger the better.  Usually we experiment.  Although he strictly guides fly-anglers, when his country uncle and cousin from Nebraska are with him, we also throw some crankbaits on spinning gear.  If we can get fish on a fly-rod, fine.  If we can get them on a spinning rod, that is fine too.  We do both unless one presentation is clearly better than the other.  Frequently, we have found fly gear is best on certain stretches, certain habitats, and crankbaits better on others.  We cover water, we fish hard, fish are caught, nice ones.

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The ‘hopper bite had been good in the weeks prior to our trip, but by late September that was starting to wane.  Regardless, a ‘hopper/dropper rig was drifted for miles.

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A few fish were caught on the fly rod, a handful of them even slurped the ‘hopper, but it was nothing like a few weeks earlier.

We did not hammer fish, but had steady action.  Actual number we caught?  I do not know, who counted?

CountingFish

Biggest came on the crankbait!

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Internet scouts, I left the background, knock yourself out trying to figure out where we were.

Next day we dropped south and fished a little bit faster water.  The raft was employed.

As we approached this stretch my nephew said I better move my tackle bag to the back of the raft.

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Nobody told me to “hang on”.  At one point I was sitting high in my chair looking straight down into the water.  Then, water was coming over the front of the raft and I was getting wet.  The boys had a good laugh.

It was great!

I whipped the fly rod most of the second day.  No fish rose to the ‘hopper.  On previous trips with my nephew I felt my son’s and my fly-casting was good, as good or better than most of his clients.  I struggled this time.  The dropper rig caused me all kinds of problems, and I was constantly tangled.  It was discouraging floating down the river, fishy spots flying by, while trying to get untangled and back in the water again.  That caused me to hurry, and that was the worst thing I could do.  “Pause, pause on the back-cast!”

In spite of my poor fly-casting skills, I managed to dry off a few.  A nice brown hooked here.

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Daniel Bauer photo. Thanks, Daniel!

Slowed things down a bit and waded.

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Daniel Bauer photo. Thanks, Daniel!

A rainbow there; see I can catch fish on a fly rod!

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Daniel had the fish of the day the second day, a nice cutthroat.  It also ate a crankbait.

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Two of my best fishing partners!

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Group photo!

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A couple of great days on the water, a couple more we will never forget.

I promised I would make some comments about Nebraska.  You are wondering how I am going to fit that in????

My nephew, son and I had some great fishing.  We wish those days would never end.   As we were getting off the water the last day, I told the boys that I hated to quit.  Always hate to quit.  Have felt that way for as long as I can remember.  We had some good fishing, we caught plenty of trout, dried off some nice ones, had two great days together.

But you wanna know where I had the hottest bite on my trip?

Had time for a quick session one evening in Nebraska on our way out west.  I did not have long to fish, just an hour, but I knew conditions were prime and I was going to take advantage of it.  Missed a fish on my second cast.  Then, in less than an hour I caught two nice walleyes, several smaller ones, a small channel cat, and lost a big fish.  Fishing was so hot and time was so short that I did not waste any time taking pictures.

There is good fishing in Nebraska just like there is in Montana and Wyoming.  Like every other hard-core angler I have a list of hot fisheries I hope to fish, regardless of state, and every state has them.  I get tired of listening to folks who think you have to leave Nebraska to have good fishing.  Baloney.

My critics, I do not know, maybe they do not read this far?  My critics will think it is great that I traveled outta state and discovered how much better the fisheries are in other states, how much smarter the pointy-headed fisheries biologists are over there.  Again, Baloney.  I read, I attend professional meetings, I know exactly what the state of fisheries science is in other states.  Those biologists know what it is here in Nebraska too.

So, you wanna know the biggest differences I noticed fishing outside of Nebraska?

In two full days of fishing, 28 river miles, I saw hardly any trash.  We picked up one plastic bag on one shoreline.  That was about it.

If I wanted, I could do nothing but spend all my time picking up other people’s trash on any one of several Nebraska waters I fish.

Want to know another difference?

There was a lot less attitude of treating fish like meat “over there”.  On the water, in a tackle shop, talking to other anglers, the fish were treated as prizes, as valuable gems to be caught, cherished, and then released to be caught again, especially the big ones.

Why are the attitudes so different?

That is what I would like to change.

Am going to keep trying to change.

Try to tell me it would not be good for our resources.

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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