LINCOLN – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission adopted several changes to fishing and wildlife regulations at a meeting Oct. 23 in Fairbury.
The following changes to fishing regulations were adopted:
Bag, Possession and Length Limits – Language states that length and daily bag limits apply to fish, bullfrogs, snapping turtles, or mussels in possession while on the water or fishing, not just when actively fishing.
Black Bass – The following water bodies return to the statewide 15-inch minimum length limit and no longer have 21-inch minimum length limits on black bass: Heartwell Park Lake, Adams County; Tilden City Pond, Antelope County; Laing Lake, Box Butte County; David City Park Ponds, Butler County; Plattsmouth City Lake and Weeping Water Pond, Cass County; Sutton Clark Pond, Clay County; Ansley City Lake, Custer County; Crystal Cove Lake, Dakota County; Big Springs City Pond, Deuel County; Hooper City Lake and Johnson Park Lake, Dodge County; Oxford City Lake, Furnas County; Wolbach City Pond, Greely County; Cornhusker WMA Pond, Grand Island Eagle Scout Lake and Grand Island Such’s Lake, Hall County; Tecumseh City Pond, Johnson County; Bethphage Pond, Kearney County; Humphrey Pond, Keith County; Merganser Lake, Lancaster County; Birdwood Lake WMA, Lincoln County; Skyview Lake and TaHaZouka Park Pond, Madison County; Bader Memorial Park Pits, Central City Lake, and Silver Creek City Lake, Merrick County; Lincoln Park Pond, Nuckolls County; Pawnee Prairie WMA, Pawnee County; Sacramento-Wilcox WMA, Phelps County; Columbus Hospital Pond, Platte County; Barnett Park, Red Willow County; Memphis Lake SRA, Saunders County; Auble Pond, Valley County; Indian Creek Pond, Webster County; and Henderson Park and York Recharge Lake, York County. This will allow more black bass to be harvested where black bass are not serving as effective predators on juvenile panfish and/or not producing larger bass.
— Bowling Lake, Bowman Lake, Fort Kearny SRA, Pawnee Lake SRA/WMA, Prairie Queen Recreation Area, Sandy Channel SRA, and Windmill SRA now have 21-inch minimum length limits on black bass. This will provide protection from angler harvest where there is high fishing use and the potential to produce high-quality panfish populations or larger bass.
Walleye, Sauger and Saugeye – The following are deleted from the list of water bodies where the daily bag limit on walleye, sauger and saugeye may include one fish 15 through 18 inches and three over 18 inches, or four over 18 inches, with no more than one fish 22 inches or greater in length: Buffalo Creek Reservoir, Dawson County; Calamus Reservoir SRA/WMA, Garfield and Loup counties; Glenn Cunningham Lake, Lawrence Youngsman Lake, and Standing Bear Lake, Douglas County; Lone Star Lake, Fillmore County; Big Indian 11A, Gage County; Holmes Lake, Olive Creek Lake SRA/WMA, Pawnee Reservoir SRA/WMA, Stagecoach Lake SRA/WMA; Wildwood Lake WMA, and Yankee Hill Lake WMA, Lancaster County; Skyview Lake, Madison County; Burchard Lake WMA and Iron Horse Trail Lake, Pawnee County; Willard Meyer Recreation Area, Saline County; Prairie Queen Recreation Area, Walnut Creek Reservoir, Wehrspann Reservoir, and Zorinsky Reservoir, Sarpy County; Czechland Lake, Lake Wanahoo SRA/WMA, Red Cedar Lake, and Meadowlark Lake, Saunders County. All of these water bodies except Calamus Reservoir SRA/WMA would return to the statewide 15-inch minimum length limit with no more than one fish over 22 inches allowed.
— The daily bag limit on walleye, sauger and saugeye at Calamus Reservoir SRA/WMA may include no more than two fish 15 through 18 inches in length and two fish more than 18 inches, with no more than one fish 22 inches or greater in length.
These will allow more appropriate harvest on these water bodies, considering that habitat limitations and angling pressure make it unrealistic to establish high-quality walleye fisheries that consistently produce large fish.
Northern Pike – The daily bag limit is increased to 10 at Lake Minatare, Scotts Bluff County, where northern pike are abundant.
Black Crappie, White Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch, Rock Bass, Green Sunfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Orange-Spotted Sunfish, and Redear Sunfish and Their Hybrids – The daily bag limit is 15 for each species of panfish – rather than the statewide limit of 15 in aggregate – in border waters shared with South Dakota. This would be consistent with South Dakota regulations.
— There is a special 12-inch minimum length limit on yellow perch in recently-renovated Rat and Beaver Lake to provide higher-quality fishing opportunities.
Bullheads – The daily bag limit of five is removed at Fremont SRA, Dodge County; Louisville SRA, Cass County, and Two Rivers SRA, Douglas County, as bullhead stocking is being discontinued at those areas.
Transportation and Possession – It is unlawful to transport live black carp, silver carp, bighead carp, grass carp, and yellow bass away from the water body from which they were captured. These Aquatic Invasive Species all pose a high-level threat to aquatic resources.
— It is unlawful to possess fish that are subject to a length limit with more than the gills, viscera, and scales removed while wading or on the water instead of while wading or engaged in fishing from any shore or boat.
Archery Fishing – The language “and other areas as posted” is added for Commission areas closed to archery fishing.
— The archery paddlefish season is moved from July to June 1-30, in conjunction with South Dakota, to enhance success, with a March application period instead of April.
Set Lines, Limb Lines and Ice Fishing – The definition of a jug line is changed to a free-floating line that contains fishing hooks entirely supported by flotation. Jug lines remain illegal in Nebraska.
— The separate definitions of set lines and limb lines are removed, and then combined to define them as fishing line that contains up to five fishing hooks attached to a fixed object while fishing a river, stream or canal. It is unlawful to use set lines or limb lines within one-half mile of a pond, lake or reservoir inlet or outlet. Set and limb lines are required to be checked every 24 hours, with unused lines removed.
Border Waters – Anglers fishing border waters between South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska may have only one daily bag limit of fish per day, regardless of how many fishing permits they have.
Areas Where It Is Unlawful to Possess Baitfish – It is unlawful to possess or use live baitfish while on certain water bodies – and not just while fishing. Recently-rehabilitated Lake Helen, Dawson County, is added to the list of waters where it is illegal to possess live baitfish.
Missouri River, Area Open – Language that made it unlawful to use trammel nets in the Missouri River on the South Dakota side from the U.S. Hwy. 81 bridge at Yankton, S.D. downstream to the Big Sioux River has been removed.
Reciprocal Agreement with South Dakota – A section is added, stating that it shall be unlawful to use any commercial fishing gear in the Missouri River on the South Dakota side from the U.S. Hwy 81 bridge at Yankton, S.D. downstream to the Big Sioux River and in the Missouri River upstream from the Santee boat ramp to the Nebraska-South Dakota state line.
— Language is added to make it unlawful to use hoop nets on the South Dakota side of that portion of the Missouri River upstream from the Santee boat ramp to the Nebraska-South Dakota state line. These proposed revisions were made to clarify where South Dakota does not allow certain gear to be used and were requested by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
Species – Yellow bullhead is removed from the list of commercial fish. The species is uncommon in Nebraska.
Sale of Fish – The requirement that fish caught under a Commercial Fishing Permit be sold for food purposes only is removed and language making commercial processing plants a place fish can be sold is added.
Fishing Tournaments, Derbies and Contests – The requirements in the regulations for fishing tournaments, derbies and contests are applied to water bodies managed by the Commission, not just those owned or controlled by the Commission.
In other business, the Commission approved the following wildlife amendments:
— One bighorn sheep lottery permit is authorized for 2016.
— Two multispecies Combination auction permits, available to residents and nonresidents, are authorized for 2016.
— The start of the application period for Super Tag and Combination multispecies lottery permits is moved from the third Monday in April to Jan. 2 starting in 2016.
— In 2016, duck zone boundaries will be changed to provide better hunting opportunities for hunters in those areas. To see a map of the changes for 2016, visit OutdoorNebraska.org, and then click on Hunting, then Waterfowl.
The Commission also adopted the following proposals to:
— increase concession lease fees and permit fees at state park areas;
— approve a Niobrara River instream flow application.
Staff members presented reports on big game, mountain lion research updates, and efforts to recruit, develop and retain hunters and anglers.
The Commission and the consulting firm EA Engineering of Lincoln received an American Council of Engineering Companies of Nebraska Aquatic Habitat Award for projects at Arnold Lake and Victoria Springs.
Commissioner Dr. Mark Pinkerton, whose term is ending, was recognized by Director Jim Douglas and the other commissioners for his service to the agency.
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