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Bonus Fish–Details!

A couple of days ago I teased you with an opportunity that will be available to catch some quality-size channel catfish from a select few bodies of urban and parks waters, Bonus Fish.  So, to understand what I am referring to in this blog post, why and how there is this opportunity right now, and why it is so limited, you must go back and read that blog post too.  Take a couple of minutes, go back and read it, I will wait for you. . . .

OK, now if you have read that I will proceed.  You need to know the details–where did we stock those fish?  Let me answer that this way. . . . We stocked them here:




And here:


They were rambunctious in the tank, splashed us with water as we were stocking them (it was hot out and the showering was welcome, but I smelled like fish when I got home, oh well, any day I smell like fish has been a good day!).


Here is a closer look:


As you can see, a couple of them had some extra spots (Weird).

This will give you some perspective on the size of those fish:


Go get ’em!

OK, there’s more.  If you cannot figure it out from the pictures, those “bonus” size channel catfish were stocked yesterday afternoon in Bowling Lake, Two Rivers Pit #1, and Louisville Pit #1.  There were 50 of those “bonus” size channel catfish stocked in each one of those waters.  The fish averaged about 4 pounds a piece and would have ranged from 2 to 8 pounds, maybe a little larger.

They are channel catfish and it is the middle of summer, they are feeding every day.  You can use your favorite bait, the stinkiest, foulest stuff you can concoct, or the blood-based baits work well this time of year.  If you want to go “top shelf”, shrimp might work, but do not forget the ole reliable nightcrawlers, frogs, or cut bait.  If all else fails, stick a hot dog on a hook.  A variety of rigs should work, but I would K.I.S.S.–Keep It Simple, “Stupid”.  Here are some basic rigs, Getting Started on Channel Catfish.  Oh, and do not necessarily rule out the “bobbers” (Bobbers Ain’t Just for Kids).

Now let me address one thing that is sure to come up:  No, we did not stock these “bonus” size catfish in a bunch of waters all over the state.  I know many are going to be disappointed in that, I expect that I will hear the complaints.  As I said a couple of days ago, these were some exceptionally large hatchery fish that grew that large by escaping to a settling pond and growing for a number of years.  We do NOT produce this size of channel catfish as part of our annual channel catfish hatchery production.  However, knowing there were a few of these fish living in a hatchery settling pond, we wanted them to be available to at least some of the state’s anglers.  There were only 150 of them, and we chose to stock them in heavily-fished parks and urban waters in eastern Nebraska.  Those fish will offer opportunity to a lot of anglers.  This was the first time we have ever stocked bonus channel catfish like this, and it is something that will not happen very often.

I know many anglers are going to be disappointed that they were not stocked in their favorite park or urban water.  Before you start complaining to me about that, I am sorry.  We only had 150 of those fish and we stocked them where we knew a lot of anglers would be able to catch them.  Maybe next time we will stock them somewhere else.

Let me again say this:  We hope that some beginning anglers, K-I-D-S have the chance to wrestle with these bonus catfish.  We did NOT stock them for folks to stockpile in their freezers.  Channel catfish are a species that is very releasable even during the heat of the summer.  Instead of “one and done” and going home in the back of someone’s pickup, if you catch a big catfish, snap a quick photo and turn it loose–those fish can thrill a lot more than one angler.

Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once.–Lee Wulff

When you catch one, I want to hear about it!  And I want to hear about big catfish catches around the state, wherever they are caught, not just from these three waters where the bonus fish were stocked.  Snap that photo and send it to me, daryl.bauer@nebraska.gov or post it on our Game & Parks FaceBook page!

OK, now, GO FISH!

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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