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A Combo of Tournaments

A few weeks ago I told you about the 2014 High School Bass Fishing Championship held at Merritt Reservoir.  I want to return to that event in this blog post because there was something else about that day that I think was really special.

When the state high school bass championship was held at Merritt this year, there was also a Nebraska Walleye Association tournament at the same time.  As a matter of fact the NWA folks were kind enough to offer the use of their tournament trailer, scales and equipment for the high school bass anglers!  Thank you Nebraska Walleye Association!

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There were a lot of boats using the ramps at the same time, but there was plenty of parking so having two tournaments at the same time went off without a hitch.  I thought everything went very well, and it provided folks with an unique opportunity–a bass tournament and walleye tournament on the same Nebraska reservoir at the same time.

I ended up weighing bass for the high school anglers and also weighed fish for some of the walleye anglers who wanted to weigh some of their fish early.  The scales were busy for awhile but we managed to handle all of the fish in a short period of time and get them back into the water.  There was a period where I was weighing bass for one team and then turned around and weighed walleyes for the next team!  We even had to snap a picture of a walleye and bass together in the same tournament holding tank!

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I am always touting the variety of fishing opportunities we have in Nebraska.  As many are quick to point out, it is my job to brag up Nebraska fishing.  I also am a born and bred, life-long and several generation Nebraskan.  I bleed red, Nebraska is home!  Before you think I am just bragging it up again, consider this:  Here is the leader board for the bass tournament:

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The winning high school bass anglers weighed 5 fish for a total weight of over 15 pounds–an average of better than 3 pounds per bass with a big fish that weighed over 4 pounds.  Most of the bass were largemouths, but there were a couple of smallmouth bass weighed too.  There were a few of the high school bass anglers that “bageled”, weighed no fish, but the majority of teams caught bass.  That is not a bad day of bass fishing anywhere, and not bad at all for an irrigation reservoir in a northern state like Nebraska.

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At the same time, the walleye anglers were doing very well, there were a lot of grinning faces at their weigh-in right after the high school bass anglers.  Here is the leader board for the walleye tournament:

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Take a close look at the walleye leader board–every team that fished weighed fish.  The winning team had a 5-fish tournament bag that weighed over 25 pounds with a big fish that was almost 8 pounds.  Again those are very respectable weights for a bag of 5 walleyes, anywhere, anytime.

And then stop to think that the walleye anglers and the bass anglers were fishing the same Nebraska reservoir at the same time!  Sorry, but I think that was very cool and I am proud of the fish they caught.

To kick it up another notch or three, Merritt Reservoir has excellent fishing for several species of panfish, is the best muskie fishery in the state and produces some big channel catfish as well.  In fact, just recently I have been told that a catfish tournament at Merritt resulted in 5-fish winning weights in excess of 90 pounds!  Now, I may be biased, but where else could you catch that variety of fish of that quality?

Merritt Reservoir is an irrigation reservoir and does suffer annual summer draw downs, but it also has the luxury of filling with clean water every spring and the reservoir is large enough and has enough diversity to offer habitats for several species of fish.  Merritt may be one of the best multi-species fisheries in the state, but it is by no means the only one.  I am always saying that Nebraska is a place where “east” meets “west” and “north” meets “south”.  We may not have as much water as some of our neighboring states, but we offer quality fishing for a variety of species of fish.  And in some cases we offer quality fishing for a variety of species in the same body of water at the same time!

Is this a great state or what?

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About Daryl Bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

4 comments

  1. Another event that took place this same weekend at Merritt was a ‘Family Fishing Event’. The Nebraska Walleye Association Kids Fishing Clinics Charity, Inc. “Fishing is Fun! needed to have one of their fishing clinics in conjunction with the Nebraska Walleye Association Tournament during this time. So with the tournaments being held it was decided that the Nebraska Game & Parks, TBF, NE State HS Bass, NWA, and the NWA Kids Charity would partner up to conduct a NGPC Family Fishing Event. This was held at Beeds Landing within sight of the NWA Tournament Trailer. All instruction, bait, and fishing equipment was free to use for three hours on Saturday evening. Again many of the tournament participants were on hand to offer advise or help bait a line. Larry Pape from NGPC arranged to have a fishing trailer there on hand stocked with all of the needed supplies. Another great example of a tremendous weekend partnership and ‘Fishing is Fun! in Nebraska.

    • Rich,

      Thanks for reminding me, I forgot to mention that.

      And again THANK YOU NWA for all of the kid’s fishing events you do around the state!!!!!

      Daryl B.

  2. We had a ball fishing the bass tournament even though it was a tough bite for us. The 32 inch norther caught by my oldest boy, Jake, was the highlight of the day. Just have to chime in on something though. Just think what bass fishing could be like in our lakes if they were stocked with bass like they are walleye and every other fish.
    There were 24 high school bass teams at the tournament and 27 walleye teams. Seems to me bass fishing is popular with the young fisherman in this state. Be nice to see some support to for them in the stocking program.
    Last, I want to point out that the winner of day 2 of the walleye tournament consisted of a father and son. The son place in the top 5 the day before in the bass tournament.

    • Doug,

      We plan to stock or have already stocked largemouth bass in 20+ waters this year. Our largemouth bass stocking consists mostly of stocking them into new waters or newly renovated waters. Once bass and other sunfish species are established, since they are nest-builders and nest-guarders, they are very capable of maintaining their populations according to what the habitat can support. Additional maintenance or supplemental stocking of black bass rarely results in any improvement in bass populations.

      Our biggest limitation for bass fisheries in Nebraska is namely WATER. Some of our large reservoirs could support better bass fisheries if water levels did not drop every summer. Water levels do drop at Merritt every summer but that reservoir at least fills every fall and provides some fairly good bass habitat when it is full.

      Even on reservoirs with fluctuating water levels, water and habitat conditions occasionally are favorable for largemouth bass and other species that thrive in shallow water cover. We have had very good high school bass championships on two or our large reservoirs the last couple of years, Harlan last year and Merritt this year.

      Daryl B.

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