Outdoor notes: Learn ice-fishing at four events in January
Anglers can learn the basics of ice-fishing or pick up a few new tips from experienced anglers at three Discover Ice-Fishing clinics this month.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Youth Fishing Program will host three on-ice events and one classroom event.
From 1-5 p.m. Jan. 14, the Nebraska Fish and Game Association will host a classroom clinic at Kearney’s Yanney Heritage Parks Environmental Resource Center. This will feature presentations by some of Nebraska’s top ice fishermen. Seating is limited, so registration is requested by emailing [email protected].
From 8 a.m.-noon Jan. 15, anglers can head out to Fort Kearny State Recreation Area Lake No. 6 for an on-ice event. The other on-ice events will be from 1-4 p.m. Jan. 21 at Skyview Lake in Norfolk, and 1-4 p.m. Jan. 28 at Lincoln’s Holmes Lake (located about mid-lake along the north shoreline drive). Limited loaner equipment will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bait and instruction will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment.
A park entry permit is required for vehicles entering Fort Kearny. All fishing regulations and permit requirements apply.
A lack of safe ice will force the cancellation of the on-ice events.
Game and Parks suggests tips for safe ice-fishing
Stay safe on the ice this winter while enjoying a day of ice-fishing. Follow these tips from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for safety on the ice:
- The minimum ice thickness for supporting one person is at least 4 inches of clear, solid ice.
- Drill holes or use an ice chisel or spud bar to check the ice conditions while working your way out to your fishing spot.
- Wear a life jacket.
- Avoid falls by wearing ice cleats on your boots to maintain traction.
- Layer your clothing, beginning with a synthetic layer. Wool garments provide excellent insulation and maintain warmth even when damp. Outer layers may include sweatshirts and jackets covered by heavy parkas, bibs or coveralls. Carry at least a couple pairs of gloves or mittens. Remove layers during periods of activity, such as manually drilling ice holes, to avoid sweating, and add layers back on during periods of inactivity.
- Commercial or homemade ice picks should be worn around your neck in case you fall through and need something to grip the ice and pull yourself out.
- Have some extra dry clothes in your vehicle.
- Fish with others in case trouble arises.
- Have a long rope with you so someone can rescue you if you break through the ice.
- Before heading out, tell a family member or friend where you will be fishing.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages. These affect your judgment and increase your chances for hypothermia.
Fishing permits can be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.
Anglers help bring new life to aging waters in 2022
Anglers in Nebraska got a lot accomplished this year — just by buying a fishing permit.
Regardless of their success on the water, their purchase of a permit — and the Aquatic Habitat Stamp that is included — helped fund more than $8 million in improvements through the Nebraska Aquatic Habitat Program in 2022. In essence, they helped bring new life to aging waters.
The program, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022, enhances aquatic ecosystems by implementing restoration techniques in streams, lakes, reservoirs and the watersheds that feed them. In addition to improving aquatic habitat and water quality, the program also improves boat and bank angler access.
When the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission established the Aquatic Habitat Program in 1997, it was the only one of its kind in the nation.
“Since its inception, the Aquatic Habitat Program has generated more than $90 million for improvements to 137 water bodies across Nebraska,” said Dean Rosenthal fisheries administrator. “The Commission takes great pride in the improvements we — thanks to partnerships, volunteers and staff — have made so that Nebraska is a tremendous state to fish in. We are committed to maintaining and improving fishing access for anglers.”
Aquatic habitat and angler access improvement work was accomplished throughout the state during 2022. The following is a list of projects completed or nearly completed in 2022 using Aquatic Habitat Program, Sportfish Restoration and Nebraska Environmental Trust funding:
North Platte I-80 Lake – The south side of the lake, the primary entrance to the area, received several upgrades. Five fishing piers were built, and Americans with Disabilities Act access was added to the boat ramp and one pier. Barriers to prevent overgrown vegetation also were installed near these fishing piers.
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge – Carp barriers, which prevent carp from moving into or out of a water body, often can clog with vegetation. Rotating screens were installed to prevent this problem in the outlet structures of Clear and Hackberry lakes.
Grable Pond North at Fort Robinson State Park – This pond, the last in a series of three ponds to be renovated, was deepened along the perimeter. The outlet structure also was replaced and an ADA-access jetty was installed, with fish habitat features placed within casting distance.
I-80 lakes – Russian olive and cedar trees were cleared around West Wood River, Bufflehead, West Brady and East Sutherland wildlife management areas. This opened areas for angler access that had become too overgrown for easy access to the water.
Summit Lake – The sediment basins were excavated on the south and west ends to restore them back to their original capacity and prevent sediment from entering the main reservoir. Angler jetties and the boat ramp also were improved and stabilized, and a kayak launch site was developed.
Bordeaux Creek – This Pine Ridge project was designed to reconnect the creek to the floodplain, ultimately improving bank stability and cool-water fish habitat. These changes, which remain under construction, will improve the trout fishery and fishing access, greatly enhancing recreational opportunities for anglers.
Wagon Train Lake – This project restored the sediment basin to its original capacity and modified the design to improve sediment capture. Habitat shoals and vegetation barriers were added to the reservoir basin, and undesirable fish were removed. The lake is currently being restocked. A boat launch and angler access areas will be repaired in 2023.
Gracie Creek – Flooding from 2019 substantially reduced the capacity of the Gracie Creek Pond near Calamus Reservoir. This project developed a sediment dike to make it easier to remove sediment in the future. It also removed 30,000 yards of sediment from the pond. Habitat and angler access improvements also were made below the outlet, which will provide improved opportunities for anglers fishing for white bass in the spring.
Victoria Springs SRA – Research is being conducted to identify sources of nutrients in the lake that are causing considerable issues with aquatic vegetation and duckweed. These issues have led to fish kills and open water angler access difficulties. Investigations are currently being evaluated to determine feasible management strategies to improve conditions.
Read more about the Aquatic Habitat Program at OutdoorNebraska.gov/aquatichabitatprogram.
Turkey hunters can buy permits Jan. 9, get familiar with changes
Several changes await Nebraska wild turkey hunters in 2023.
Hunters can begin purchasing their spring season permits from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission beginning Jan. 9 and should become familiar with the changes before the season opens.
The changes for this spring season:
- Hunters now may purchase up to two spring permits instead of three.
- A hunter may harvest no more than one turkey per calendar day during the spring season.
- This year, 10,000 spring permits are available for sale to nonresident hunters, instead of an unlimited quantity, as in the past.
- Starting with the spring season, all turkey harvests must be reported via Telecheck.
- It is illegal to create a baited area on lands owner or controlled by the Commission.
Changes that will affect the fall season:
- The season is shortened to Oct. 1-Nov. 30.
- All hunters are limited to one permit.
- The bag limit for all hunters is lowered to one turkey.
The spring archery season opens March 25, youth shotgun on April 8, and the regular shotgun on April 15. All spring turkey seasons close May 31.
Visit Game and Parks’ new permitting site GoOutdoorsNE.com or a permitting office to purchase permits starting Jan. 9.
For more information on turkey hunting in Nebraska visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/wildturkey.