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More Flooding

Our great state has experienced some more flooding this past week.  It is a cliche, but again we have seen flooding like we have never seen before.  Most of you are probably aware that parts of central Nebraska had up to 10 inches of rain in one night last week, and well, when there is that much rain, that fast, there is going to be flooding in places where we have never seen it before.

No doubt, flooding impacts fisheries; those impacts can be both positive and negative.  I will be the first to remind folks that high water, flood, events are natural parts of river and stream ecosystems and are beneficial events for those ecosystems.  Many riverine species of fish thrive when there is high water; high water can provide ideal spawning conditions, and fish migrations both upstream and downstream often occur during flood events.

Unfortunately, flooding can negatively impact the fisheries in lakes, pits and ponds.  Those negative impacts mostly stem from invading undesirable fish species that gain access to standing waterbodies that were isolated and not connected to any other waters.  Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that common carp and other non-game fish are always bad fish, but in the wrong environment they are undesirable.  Period.  For example, when carp and other undesirable species invade a previously isolated sandpit or interstate lake, water quality and habitat conditions often deteriorate and so do the populations of sport fish.

Enough of the generalities.  You all know that Kearney was the “bulls-eye” for last week’s flood event and those of you who fish know that we have several good fisheries in that area.  Again, let me post the disclaimer that it is going to take us some time to sort everything out, but I can tell you right now that there has been significant road and access damage to several public waterbodies in that area and we suspect that rough fish have gained access to many of the public pits and interstate lakes in that area.  That is true for Bufflehead Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Kearney Archway Pits, Yanney Park, Kea West WMA, North Kearney I-80 Rest Stop, Union Pacific State Recreation Area (SRA) and Sandy Channel SRA.  In addition, there may be damages and rough fish invasions on Coot Shallows and East Odessa WMAs, but we do not know right now.  I can tell you that road and parking lot damage has been extensive at Bufflehead, Kea West, Sandy Channel, Union Pacific, and perhaps East Odessa.

The good news is that Kea Lake, the interstate lake right at the Kearney interchange, since it is on the south side of the interstate, did not experience any damage or rough fish invasion.  The pits on the Fort Kearny SRA likewise were spared.

I know the heavy rainfall was not confined to just Kearney, and there may be other areas in central Nebraska that were impacted.  I am just telling you what I know right now, and I may know about other areas in the future.  When we know more, we will let folks know.

It will take some time to evaluate how much these fisheries have been impacted and where we will go from here.  We will hope for the best, but I am afraid we must be prepared for the worst–that there will be a bunch of pit and interstate lake fisheries in the Kearney area that are going to need rotenone renovations and re-stocking in the future.  Stay tuned.

West side of Bufflehead WMA.  Brad Eifert photo.
Kea West1
West end of Kea West WMA.  Brad Eifert photo, thanks, Brad.

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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