NEBRASKAland December 2018

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 32 of 59

DECEMBER 2018 • NEBRASKAland 33 being caught from the lake. Pelican was next. With work starting in 2018, the goal is to return this natural lake – like the other renovation projects on the Refuge – to its heyday. "These lakes have a unique ability to grow big fish," said Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Aquatic Habitat Program Manager Mark Porath. "They have great vegetation and invertebrates, which act as great energy packets for bluegill. They can grow like crazy." Because of these factors, the top-end possibilities are so much higher compared to other waterbodies out there, a fact Don knows as well. The 2-Pounder Fish with Don on a private Sandhills lake, one not beseeched with carp, and he'll passionately point every time he pulls a gigantic bluegill from a hole. "See! That's the possibility on those public lakes!" he says. When the fish is on the end of your line, his excitement is even more. "Get 'em! Get 'em!" he calls out, as if it's 1990 all over again and every fish is a revelation. In many ways, it is – especially when he thinks about the future. "I want to see bluegill so big you can't fit them through the hole," he said. "And when those Refuge lakes are renovated, that's exactly what we'll see again." And he'll be there to witness it – probably within eyesight of novice anglers wondering what tackle and technique he's employing. All they'll have to do is ask. ■ Caught on a private Sandhills lake, Don is convinced bluegills this size will be caught from Refuge lakes after they are renovated.

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