We are drawing to the end of another year, and with ice conditions the way they are right now, I am not expecting any more activity as far as state record fish are concerned. So let me show a few pictures and give a quick review of the state record fish that were caught in the state this year.
The first state record fish that was taken in 2014 was a blue sucker taken while bow-fishing back in May. Ethan Wellman took that 11 pound 1 ounce fish from the Missouri River in Cedar County.
We had one other bow-fishing state record taken this past year, a black buffalo also taken from the Missouri River in Cedar County. Marlyn Wiebelhaus arrowed that 7 pound 15 ounce fish in early July.
Rod and Reel
We had one new state record fish caught by rod & reel in 2014; a 6 ounce yellow bullhead. That fish was caught by Mark Spitzer in late May from the pit on the Dead Timber State Recreation Area. This was the first yellow bullhead certified as a state record in Nebraska. Even though there are a lot of yellow-belly bullheads in Nebraska, nearly all of those fish are actually black bullheads. There are subtle differences between black and yellow bullheads, the number of anal fin rays differs, but Mark knew the difference and in spite of frying and eating larger yellow bullheads the night before, he knew any yellow bullhead would establish a rod & reel record for Nebraska.
There is a little more to the stories about all three of those fish if you want to go back and read the State Record Update, July 2014.
And that’s it. The update I gave back in July is essentially all the activity we had in the state record program this year. That is far less than we have had in previous years and I do not know that I have a good reason for that. . . .Except, I have to mention one thing. . . .
I try not to be too negative in my blog, but there are things from time to time that I have to mention, negative or ugly as they may be. I do know one reason we had far less activity in the state record program this year. Over the years there have been a lot of fish caught and certified as rod & reel state records. There just are a lot more folks are aware of the possibility of big fish being state records when they are caught on rod & reel. So, over the years the size of rod & reel record fish has progressed steadily upward until the bar has been set very high for some of those species. We never will have a lot of state record fish caught by rod & reel in any given year because most of those records are very well established. By the way, if you want to read some of my rambling on the chances of some of those records being broke, go back and read State Record Summary 2011.
Therefore, most of the state record fish that have been certified in recent years have been those taken by bow-fishing, underwater spear-fishing or surface spear-fishing–two of the three state record fish that were certified this year were taken by bow-fishing. In those categories the size needed to beat a record is smaller, or for many species, the bow-fishing and especially underwater spear- and surface spear-fishing records are vacant. As a result, we have had much more activity in the archery and spear-fishing categories in recent years. In fact, there have been a few individuals that have been very active in certifying fish for bow-fishing or spear-fishing records. And that is where I have to tell you some ugly news. One of those individuals was convicted of a bunch of fish and game violations in the past year, and that included violations in the taking of several state record fish. So, obviously, that individual did not submit any fish for state record certification this year, and that is THE reason we had far less state record activity this year.
In addition, our state record rules are listed in the Fishing Guide, and those rules state that, “Game and Parks may revoke a state record if the record holder is found in possession of illegal fishing gear or has been cited for repeated fishing violations that cast suspicion on the authenticity of the record catch.” With the conviction in that particular case, and the investigation that went into it, suspicion was cast on several of the state records held by that person and his associates. Therefore, those records have been dropped from the state record fish list.
The current list of state record fish reflects those adjustments. In cases where records had been established for a species before being bested by those that have been disqualified, the records have reverted to those previously established. Where no record had been established for a species before being established by those convicted of the fish & game violations, the records are now again vacant.
If you believe you might have a chance of taking a state record fish in the coming year, especially if you underwater spear-fish, take a look at the records because there are some changes that make those records very “do-able”. I would tell anyone to familiarize yourself with the state record rules, those can be found in any Fishing Guide, because you never know what you might catch.
Let me finish this on a positive note. If you ask me what was exceptional on the state record front in 2014 it would be the fish that were state record size that were caught and immediately released! Yes, assuming those fish are still alive, they are out there swimming and very well could be new state records. Since state record fish have to be weighed on certified scales, we will never know for sure if those fish were actually state record size, but the anglers who caught them did not care if they got their names in a record book or not–they simply wanted those fish back in the water! “There is no better feeling than watching your trophy swim away”–Muskie Hunter magazine.
Congratulations to all of those who caught state record fish this year, and even more to those who released potential state records so they could catch them again!