NEBRASKAland December 2017

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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42 NEBRASKAland • DECEMBER 2017 F or many first- or second-year ice anglers, catching bluegills becomes a doable endeavor after a little time spent with a flasher of some sort and a power auger to increase the angler's maneuverability. But there remains a desire for many of these anglers to catch larger fish, like crappies and walleyes, beneath the ice even though they don't know how to get started. Here are those answers – sort of. Crappies "Folks ice fishing for bluegills won't do a whole lot different than what they're doing right now," Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Fisheries Biologist Daryl Bauer said. "Because crappies are larger than bluegills, a bigger bait would be a start." Baits include ice fishing spoons, Swedish pimples, and a minnow head itself. In many waters, Bauer said, bluegills and crappies will be cruising the same habitat. However, where there is significant vegetation, bluegills will be more partial to that habitat while crappies will lean toward some sort of structure or suspended in open water. These fish can be active any time of the day, but they'll often become more aggressive in the evening or after dark. Anglers can spot these fish on a flasher by their tendency to appear from below the bait and move upward toward it. Walleyes "Walleyes are tough," said Bauer. "You can definitely catch them in many of our reservoirs, but there are so many baitfish, like shad and alewives, that are cold-water stressed all winter long and they make easy food for walleyes." To have a chance at these finicky fish, generally it's a low, light bite with jigging spoons or rattle baits. Look for points and drop-offs and cut a number of holes in an area, making sure the lure presentation is different for each of the holes. For example, have stationary rods at various depths and one or two jigging rods to give movement. Once the fish become active, naturally match the presentation because the windows for success with these fish can be small, so be prepared to make adjustments quickly when the bite does start. Before You Fish Because ice fishing for species like crappie and walleye is often a game of hide-and-seek, if possible become familiar with a body of water before ever fishing it. Check out the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's lake maps section at lakecontourmaps. These maps, which cover more than 125 waterbodies in the state, reveal contour changes and structure, and can be used to help pinpoint fishing locations before an angler ever sets foot on the ice. ■ Crappies and Walleyes rough the Ice By Jeff Kurrus and Julie Geiser Gwen Bergstrom from North Platte holds a nice walleye from Lake Maloney. PHOTO BY JULIE GEISER PHOTO BY JEFF KURRUS For many first- and second-year ice anglers, there quickly becomes a desire to catch larger and more varied species of fish. Here are a few tips to shorten that learning curve.

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