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Brutal Pike Tagging

As you know we have open water early this year.  Yes, fish are being caught already.  I am also hearing questions about early open water and spawning seasons.  This discussion comes up every spring.  I have and will give the same answers every spring:  Weather will modify spawning activities a bit, but you can count on spawning occurring pretty much the same time every year.  The amount of daylight or photoperiod is the primary driver of spawning activity on most of our waters for most of our species.

Was reminded of that again last week.

With the open water, our field biologists wanted to get a jump on tagging pike on the relatively new Flanagan Reservoir in Omaha.  I had done a quick ice fishing story with a reporter over there this winter.  Managed to catch a tagged pike while we were doing that (On Ice, On Air).  That prompted interest in the pike tagging we would be doing this spring.  Another story was promised.

I met the same reporter last week at Flanagan so she could see our crews pull the nets, catch some fish and tag some pike.  We decided to do the story on Tuesday as the weather forecast looked best for that day.  Yeah, you bet. . . .

Driving over I could feel the wind hitting my vehicle and knew we were already too late.  The front had blown through, the wind had shifted to the north and temperatures were going to do nothing but drop.  Made no difference, nets were in the water.  They had to be run.

Again I would embed the video here, but I cannot get that code to work.  So, if you want to see the TV segment, follow the link:

Pike Tagging on Flanagan

A couple dozen frame nets were set on Flanagan that day last week.  We only got footage of a grand total of 1 pike while Jill was with us.  A few more were caught after she left, but it was still a very low catch.  The water is still cold, the weather was lousy, and the pike just were not up yet.  Now, all of that can change quickly this time of year.  Some warm afternoons will make a big difference.  But, then you know what will happen.  We will get another cold snap.  I do not care if we have open water already.  It is still early March and our erratic weather will swing from one extreme to the other another couple dozen times this spring.

Spawning activities will be about the same time as always.  In fact, that is the very reason why:  If spawning activity got accelerated by unseasonably warm weather, what would happen when the invariable weather change happened?  Survival of very young fish is not good when water temperatures plummet.

If you are interested in more details about the pike tagging, and the Flanagan pike population, refer to Flanagan, Tagagan.

The frame nets did catch fish, mostly small bluegills and crappies, but we did see a few surprises.  A couple nets had some dandy bullheads, and one ginormous crappie made an appearance.

Big Crappie
Jake Werner photo.

Never fear, our pike tagging projects on both Flanagan and Wanahoo will get done this March.  However, they did not get done as early as we thought they might!

Thanks Aaron and Jake for accommodating the media and me.  Thanks Jill for the story!

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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