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Whaling

It has come to my attention that various sites in the cybersphere are reporting that Nebraska has a law on the books prohibiting the capture of whales by fishing, Stupid Laws, Nebraska.

Oh really?

Try as I might, I cannot cite you “chapter and verse” where that law is in writing.  You know, “Chapter 66.4, page 32, column A, section C14, paragraph 12, line 7 of the Nebraska Legislative Code, 1867, states that no members of the Order Cetacea may be taken by hook and line, set-line, trot-line, horse and rope, hand-fishing or noodling anywhere in the state of Nebraska.  Violators will be sentenced to three consecutive days and nights in the belly of said Cetacea”.  I even searched Nebraska Laws and Game & Parks Regulations, and I can find nothing about whales, Cetacea, or marine mammals.  If someone can show me in writing where there was a Nebraska law on the books prohibiting whale fishing in Nebraska, I would love to see it.

It is not that I doubt it.  We all know there have been some unusual laws enacted over the years.  And, any lifelong Nebraska resident will tell you that all bets are off whenever the legislature is in session.

But, right now I am wondering if this was something that was said somewhere on the internet and then picked up by someone else and reported elsewhere, and then it took on a life of its own.  Those things happen all the time in the media age in which we live, especially when such things fit the stereotype that some folks on the country’s coasts have of us “hicks” living out here in “flyover country”.  Don’t believe me on that last comment?  Under the heading of “Why the heck is it illegal to go whale-fishing in Nebraska”, some edumacated person living in a more populous state offered up this opinion of you and me.

Posted by paypurrchaysur Oct 30th, 2013 at 1:27PM

Well, just goes to show, those in the Midwest, ain’t the smartest.

Whatever.

By the way, “paypurrchaysur”, Nebraska ain’t in the “Midwest”, we are the Great Plains!

And what kind of name is “paypurrchaysur” anyway?  Nice spelling by the way.

Besides that, who says it is a stupid law?

Fossils of some fantastic aquatic creatures have been found in Nebraska, and it is a safe bet that if you are sitting in our great state reading my ramblings, the very spot where you are may at one time have been covered with water!  If those fantastic critters once roamed Nebraska, then why not whales?  And if there were whales, Lord knows that some ancestral Nebraska redneck (that term, “redneck”, is one I resemble by the way) would have been trying to fish for them.

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If the global-warming doomsdayers are right, and all of the polar ice caps melt, Nebraska may once again be covered with water.  When that happens, I expect whales will re-inhabit Nebraska and when populations reach a sustainable level, we will once again be able to fish for them.  On that day, in the post-Apocalyptic Water World, there again will be some surviving and creative Nebraska rednecks ready to catch the first whale.  When it happens I intend to hop in my thirty-year-old float tube and team up with Kevin Costner.  (NOTE TO SELF–get a bigger scale for verification of state record whales).

Many whales survive by preying on critters that reside pretty low on the food chain, things like krill.  I am speculating that fly-fishing gear may be the best way to present imitations of much of that small prey that whales consume (always remember that a key to successful fishing is understanding predator/prey dynamics).

I wonder what weight fly-rod would be appropriate for whale fishing?  I am thinking a 100-weight would be just a little bit too heavy and not sporting.  However, knowing fly-anglers, even if it were a 99-weight fly rod , there would be some “chap” in a tweed coat and raised pinky finger trying to catch a blue whale on a 3-weight because he would much rather catch one on a dry fly.

Better have a lot of backing.

You know I am partial to big predators.  I love ‘em.  When we are able to once again fish for whales in Nebraska, I am going to target killer whales, Orcas!  I will leave the smaller Humpbacks and Minkes to the worm-dunkers.

I can close my eyes now and hear my boat partner, Kevin, nervously, energetically, hiss the word over and over as that familiar black and white form shows up behind his bait,

Kevin–”Orca, Orca, Orca”.

Me–”Quick, Figure-8, Figure-8!”

Everyone knows that surface baits are one of the best baits to use for Orcas, surface baits that look like little baby seals.

Looks like I will be able to do some wading and catch Orcas too.

Or maybe not?

I guess if you want to use live bait you could, but you are going to need a bigger bait bucket and livewell to haul the seals.  Come to think of it, we are going to need bigger bait shops too.

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Speaking for myself, I of course will practice catch & release of all Orcas I catch.  I am going to have to upgrade my landing net, pliers, jaw-spreaders, and hook-cutters (A Fish-Handling Review).  Some extra digits and limbs might come in handy too.

OK, enough of the rambling.  I have a confession to make.

I have been keeping this a secret; some of us are already on the cutting edge of the Nebraska whale-fishing scene.  At the beginning of the last Ice Age, which for those of you who are too young to remember, occurred in the ’70′s, that would be 1970′s, there were some populations of Orcas that were landlocked in a few Nebraska waters (Oh, and at least one plesiosaur was left in Walgren Lake too).  I have tried to keep this quiet, especially considering the legalities, but as I have said before, in this age of the internet there are NO secrets anymore.  I might as well “spill my guts” (pardon the pun).  Kevin and I were ice-fishing for Orcas this week.  He had one bite.

I will keep one secret, the exact bait we were using, but if you look close, you already have a hint (you can see that he was jigging).

Orcas really like chubby daughters.

“paypurrchaysur”, if you are still reading, what do you think of this redneck out in “God’s Country” now?

Don’t need no stinkin’ whales.

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About Patricia.Engelhard

Pat Engelhard is the Web Content Producer for Nebraska Game and Parks and has been working as an online content manager/editor for the past 15 years with the State of Nebraska.

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