Seriously, no “April Fool’s” in this blog post, although I have seen some good ones today. No, I have some news updates and I ain’t fooling. As is often the case, some of you may already be aware of these updates, but then I will get questions from folks and realize that not everyone “got the word”. So, if there is anything I can do to let more folks know what is going on, well, I am going to do it.
Yes, a couple of the updates deal with spring trout stocking, again, but I promise I have other things to talk about:
Access to Blue Lake closed temporarily
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is temporarily closing access to Blue Lake in the Sandhills of Garden County while the ground thaws.
Commission fisheries staff decided this week to close the 2.7-mile two-track trail through private property because of poor road conditions brought on by a wet spring. A lease agreement between the Commission and a private landowner provides access to the remote lake.
The Commission will reopen the road when conditions improve.
Several sandhill lakes in the Garden County region are experiencing higher than normal water this year. The Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge has also closed access to the Island Lake Loop Trail, and two of the three access points to Island Lake due to flooding along the trail. County Road 108, which provides access to the west side of the refuge, also has been closed due to high water and mud.
The best access route to the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Crescent Lake Wildlife Management Area until conditions improve is from Highway 26, north through Oshkosh.
The access road to Blue Lake is just a trail across private property. In no way do we want that trail torn up, or the area abused in any way, so the road is closed periodically when needed. This closure is nothing new, is not due to the exceptional conditions we have seen across the state this early spring. This is simply a standard closure, has happened before and will happen again.
Elm Creek trout stocking suspended until habitat improves
LINCOLN, Neb. – Rainbow trout stockings will not occur this spring at Elm Creek because high water has had a detrimental impact on trout habitat there.
Until stream conditions improve, the likelihood of Elm Creek holding and supporting trout is impaired. With more stable water flows, habitat conditions should improve at Elm Creek, which is located east of Red Cloud in Webster County, and stocking can resume in the future.
I drove by Elm Creek east of Red Cloud just a week ago. For those who may not know, Elm Creek is one stream in south-central Nebraska that can support trout. Rainbow trout are stocked there spring and fall, and the fish can remain in the stream and survive. However, Elm Creek has a large watershed and during high runoff events there is A LOT of water that flushes through that stretch of stream that supports trout, mostly on the Elm Creek Wildlife Area, and that is detrimental to habitat conditions and the trout.
I should have taken some pictures a week ago, but really did not see anything very photogenic about piles of cornstalks piled along the banks of a “trout” stream. Needless to say, habitat conditions on Elm Creek are not favorable for trout right now, and our trout stockings there have been suspended.
Now, do not think that this means we will stock no more trout there forever. I did not say that. Given more normal flows, the stream tends to heal and habitat conditions improve. Sometime in the future, I would anticipate we will stock rainbow trout in Elm Creek again, but not this spring.
Then it snowed, again
Last Thursday I had another update on the latest spring trout stockings, Spring Trout Stocking Update, March 28, 2109 . I always remind folks that when we set a stocking schedule, they are subject to change due to unforeseen events. Well, some of those stockings were delayed, again, because of snow and slick roads:
In addition, inclement weather prevented the trout stocking at Plum Creek Park Pond in Lexington on March 30. Instead, those 750 10.5-inch trout were stocked April 1. The stockings at Oxford City Lake and Gothenburg’s Lake Helen did take place as scheduled March 30.
For a complete list of trout stockings occurring around the state this spring, visit http://outdoornebraska.gov/fishstockingreports.
More trout stockings will be coming, conditions are improving, and we will continue to issue updates. Just know this, stocking locations, numbers of fish, and dates will be different on many waters this spring, and you all know why. Some of those stocking numbers and locations will NOT necessarily be what is done again in the future. This early spring has been exceptional and we are responding in exceptional ways. As much as possible, we hope that coming springs will be more “normal”.