I will confess to you that I have a number of state records from this summer to tell you about. Most of those fish were taken by underwater spearfishing or bowfishing and the applications have been on my desk waiting for me to approve them and for a batch of state record certificates to be printed. Eventually I will have a couple of blog posts on all of those state records.
But, in the past couple of weeks it has literally been one new hook & line state record after another, and those have occupied a bit of my time. I do not want to say that the spear-fishing or bow-fishing state records are less important, because they are NOT, but the hook & line state record fish of recent weeks have been unique species or uniquely large and I have wanted folks to know about them right away.
Last week we had another fish caught that was close to being a new hook & line state record. Actually, news of this big wiper (i.e. hybrid striped bass) hit the internet right after the fish was caught, http://www.nefga.org/forum/showthread.php?42346-New-State-Record-Wiper-caught . It then took us some time last week to confirm the size of the fish. I personally spent time last Wednesday trying to meet the person who caught the fish and get an official weight, but due to his work and class schedules was not able to do that. So, the gentleman brought the fish into our Kearney office the following day. At that time the fish weighed 19 pounds 11 ounces, a half-pound short of being a new hook & line state record. I will tell you the fish was large enough for a Master Angler Award and was probably one of the top 5 wipers ever caught in Nebraska. It was 32 inches long and was caught Oct. 15 from Sutherland Reservoir on a Rapala crankbait.
It was several days after the fish was caught before it was officially weighed–let me make a few comments about that. First of all, state record rules and an application form can be found in every copy of the Fishing Guide, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/fishing/guides/fishguide/pdf/FishGuide.pdf . To qualify for a state record, fish must be weighed on an accredited or certified scale. Two witnesses, one of which must be a permanent employee of the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission must witness the weighing of the fish and sign the state record application. One of those witnesses may be a fisheries biologist, but does not have to be. A fisheries biologist is required to confirm the species fish, but any permanent Game & Parks Commission employee can satisfy the witness requirement for certifying the weight of a fish. We have accredited or certified scales in our fish hatcheries and regional offices, but the fish do not necessarily have to be weighed there. Accredited or certified scales can be found at grocery stores, post offices, UPS stores, etc. Of course permission will have to be gained from those folks to use their scales, but I can tell you there have been a lot of big fish weighed on scales in places like that (I have weighed a few of them myself).
If a potential state record fish is caught on a weekend, an angler may have a hard time finding Game & Parks Commission employees on duty. That may mean the fish cannot be officially weighed right away and folks worry about the fish losing weight. For those who think those fish are going to lose weight, let me ask, where does that weight go?????? Unless the fish is bleeding, puking, or expelling sex products, the only way it will lose weight is if it dehydrates. Keep the fish cool, keep it wet, and it will not lose weight; in fact it may even gain some weight! Bear with me for a few sentences and the pointy-headed fish biologist can tell you how a fish may actually gain some weight after it dies. . . .
Freshwater fish have a higher salt concentration in their bodies than the water in which they live. That means that water is continually absorbed into freshwater fish via osmosis. Freshwater fish produce copious amounts of dilute urine to rid their bodies of all the water they absorb (how many of you have picked up a fish and had them prove that to you?). Once a fish dies, it no longer voids all of that water from their body and therefore they may actually absorb some water and increase in weight as long as they are not dehydrated.
I said all of that to say this: the belief that you must weigh a fish immediately or it is going to lose weight is mostly a MYTH! I can tell you for a fact that two fish recently submitted for state records actually weighed less at an unofficial weighing than they did when they were officially weighed hours later! The big paddlefish caught recently weighed 103 pounds when first weighed, but then weighed 107 pounds 12 ounces when weighed on certified or accredited scales.
I have no doubt that the big wiper caught a week ago was an exceptional fish, one of the largest ever caught from Nebraska. There were some “unofficial” weights of that fish that indicated it might be a new state record, but there was also at least one “unofficial” weight that indicated it was 19 pounds and some ounces, short of the state record. Although it took several days to confirm the weight of the fish, I have no doubt that wiper was close, but never was large enough to be a new hook & line state record. It was not big enough when it was caught, and it was not big enough when officially weighed 5 days later.
Now, that wiper may not have been large enough to be a new state record, but that makes it no less of a fish or a trophy catch! Congratulations to the angler who caught it, you know many of us are green with envy!
That big wiper was caught from Sutherland Reservoir and I believe that is very interesting. Our state record striped bass, a 64 pound 15 ounce fish caught in 1993, was also caught from Sutherland. I do NOT believe either one of those fish lived all of their life in Sutherland. I do believe that both of those fish originated in Lake McConaughy, migrated down the canal system to Sutherland, and ended up having personal meetings with anglers there. By the way, I believe that likely there are wipers swimming in McConaughy right now that would break our existing hook & line state record of 20 pounds 1 ounce. I suppose a person could wait for one of those fish to swim down into Sutherland, but maybe the chances would be better much farther upstream????
As I write this I am waiting for the paperwork on another hook & line state record. I have pictures already, but will wait until I have the paperwork and details to tell you about. I will give you one hint: It is a record that I very recently said would fall, again. Stay tuned. . . .
There are some big fish swimming in Nebraska waters. I believe one of the things I most enjoy about fishing is the fact that a person just never knows. When you put that hook in the water, you could be the next person to catch a record fish!