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Wanahoo observations

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    Wanahoo observations

    In a previous thread there was a discussion about the decline of Wanahoo. First off, Wanahoo is a beast. It is the most mysterious lake I have ever fished in my life. No rhyme or reason. It will humble the best fishermen and leave you thinking " WTF "

    I have fished Wanahoo since it's inception and have had great days, bad days, and everything in between. I am talking open water bass fishing.

    Gathering data can get construed for this very reason. I am talking angler data primarily kayak anglers and some very accomplished ones. Some I fish with fish nationally and internationally and represent Nebraska very well. A few even guide on Wanahoo regularly. I believe angler data is tough to beat over a 3 or 4 year span of seeing how " we " do.

    First off I am very curious about the abundance of green sunfish. I really have never caught a lot but started to after ice out this year and man o man you could easily catch 100 in an hour off the rocks right now if you wanted to - take a kid and a little grub and they will have a blast. I don't know much about them like if they are prolific spawners or if they come and go naturally . My question is why ? I was thinking a decline in bass numbers or northern pike - but don't fish for pike but am leaning towards a weakening bass fishery. But, the weird thing is, average size is down and less 17 + fish looking back 3 years. But the data only includes " best 5 " so smaller fish could have been culled. Specifically this weekend A LOT of dinks. More than I have ever seen.

    This weekend was the 2 day Nebraska kayak championship at Wanahoo. Day one had only 3 anglers with limits out of 33. Day 1 best five went 78" with big bass at 18.5. Day two about the same and winning total was 146.25 with big bass on day 2 a super chunky 20.5. ( Eating GSF )

    I was one of the lucky 3 to have a limit on day one but today I struggled and only carded 2 fish. That's Wanahoo. Got me mentally. Couldn't handle the pressure and grind when my day 1 pattern was non existent. The other two with cards on day one filled them today so that pretty much says I suck - ha ha pretty much means you better be mentally prepared for this lake or go home.

    Numbers in previous years were were 80, 89, and 90ish consecutively. Also looking back lots of full cards and lots of good fish 17 plus. In 2017 I won the midwest with a card in the 90's with mostly 18's.

    Just wanted to open up a conversation that was eluded to early and wanted to add that yes, I have seen a decline in numbers and quality on average over the past three years based on fairly large tournament results from established anglers.

    But, it's Wanahoo. No rhyme or reason. Every hour it fishes differently and every day differently. Every year it fishes differently.

    Wanahoo, it's not for everyone.

    #2
    I've only fished out there a few times. I have yet to catch a blue catfish from that lake but they're in there. I've had good success fishing from the same spot for bluegill catching quite a few 8"-9". I assume bluegill head are ok for bait. The catch quite a few blues from LOZ with cut bait and bluegill heads. When they start showing up at Wanahoo I'll give it a try. It would be fun to fish there and not put up with the drunk boater moron brigade like Branched Oak has which was made worse by the wonderful decision NE G & P made legalizing alcohol in the state parks.
    Here kitty kitty

    Comment


    • Kenai King
      Kenai King commented
      Editing a comment
      9" gill today on a crank.

    #3
    One thing I will add, is the number of full cards ( 5 fish limit ) over the past three years has significantly declined per tournament.

    Comment


      #4
      Not a bass fisherman, but I can say without a doubt that the crappie numbers have gone down. Not a surprise, but definitely not as many panfish coming out of there as we used to.

      Comment


        #5
        Wow. I fish from shore and from a kayak and agree with everything Kenai King wrote. For a few years, I’ve said that Wanahoo is the best “big fish” lake I’ve ever seen in this area. The majority of bass I caught were 15+ inch fish. But not this year. A lot more smaller fish.

        It’s always been a mystery for me too.(I feel like a genius one day, then an idiot the next.) I’ve been humbled many times, but have had great days also. Not too many great days this year, though.

        Comment


          #6
          No doubt the dynamics of bass fishing have changed from one of the best to a very tough bite. One thing very different this year is tremendous numbers of 3-5 inch bass in the lake.
          Panfish numbers are still excellent. All sizes of crappie to catch from 6-13 inches. All sizes of bluegill from 4 to over 10.
          Massive numbers of young of year bluegill, crappie along with the bass. Sonar lights up like balls of shad all over the lake. Time will tell what all this means.

          Comment


            #7
            Originally posted by 4allfish View Post
            No doubt the dynamics of bass fishing have changed from one of the best to a very tough bite. One thing very different this year is tremendous numbers of 3-5 inch bass in the lake.
            Panfish numbers are still excellent. All sizes of crappie to catch from 6-13 inches. All sizes of bluegill from 4 to over 10.
            Massive numbers of young of year bluegill, crappie along with the bass. Sonar lights up like balls of shad all over the lake. Time will tell what all this means.
            Hmm interesting. I was shocked with the million green sunfish in there too. I am no biologist and dont pretend to be but this tells me that the predators did there job in the past but that could be lacking now. Wondering about the pike. Anyone still catching a ton ? I used get one or two everytime I have bassed fish but have not caught one in two years.

            Comment


              #8
              A couple comments:

              Remember we have had a long-term pike tagging study ongoing at Wanahoo. Pike numbers have been very stable, maybe increasing just slightly.

              "A lake is a reflection of its watershed"

              Wanahoo has a huge watershed and has a high flow-through rate even in a normal year.

              This year ain't been normal.

              Also remember that all reservoirs go through a "boom" period when they are new and they do not stay new forever.

              Daryl B.
              Daryl Bauer
              Fisheries Outreach Program Manager
              Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
              [email protected]
              http://ourdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/category/barbs-and-backlashes/

              Comment


                #9
                Yep understand all that but quality has slowly decreased the past 4 years for sure. I looked back at all tournament results and you can see the trend going downward.

                It really should not have been published as a top lake. Sadly, it should be. I can go to Zorinsky, Walnut, PQ, and even Wehrspann and do much better. Granted, Wanahoo is definitely unique and does pose certain challenges but numbers don't lie.

                Would be intetesting to see a shocking / gill net report this year or next and compare to 4 years ago.

                Any explanation or theory of the massive GSF explosion ? Everyone who I talked with yesterday was wondering the same thing.

                Thanks for your reply Daryl much appreciated.

                Comment


                  #10
                  Originally posted by whitetips View Post
                  A couple comments:

                  Remember we have had a long-term pike tagging study ongoing at Wanahoo. Pike numbers have been very stable, maybe increasing just slightly.

                  "A lake is a reflection of its watershed"

                  Wanahoo has a huge watershed and has a high flow-through rate even in a normal year.

                  This year ain't been normal.

                  Also remember that all reservoirs go through a "boom" period when they are new and they do not stay new forever.

                  Daryl B.
                  This situation also has occurred at Holmes Lake. After the renovation, I could catch lots of bass, with a few good ones every time out. Numbers and size have declined for me, and they are more difficult to catch. I believe the habitat has declined and thus the fishing. More sediment and fertilizer -- that's just the way it is for an urban pond.
                  Last edited by pelican; 09-18-2019, 07:40 AM.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    The silting in, flooding and outrageous fishing pressure are probably the big issues.

                    Comment


                    • Shorty
                      Shorty commented
                      Editing a comment
                      and the spring drawdowns.

                    #12
                    One thing I believe is that the fish are there but they have so much food it makes them more difficult to catch.

                    Comment


                      #13
                      Originally posted by Blackdog View Post
                      One thing I believe is that the fish are there but they have so much food it makes them more difficult to catch.
                      I am seeing less and less on my sonar. I typically love fishing deeper this time of year at this lake. I have had epic days by finding large schools of bass feeding in open water. Plucking 18's left and right. Have not duplicated that in two years and I have not become a lesser fishermen. Actually I have become much better and I do attribute some of that by fishing this lake and learning by those who do also.

                      Yes there are fish there. But not the bass factory it was and should be. This is only my theory and opinion - shared by others. it could be easily the other way too because this lake is a huge enigma. Weirdest lake ever. Mental game must be strong for continual success.

                      Comment


                        #14
                        Originally posted by pelican

                        My understanding is that the explosion of green sunfish is not a good thing for bass fishing.
                        Not necessarily, I suspect the spring drawdowns and fluctuating water levels at the hands of the NRD have helped green sunfish proliferate in Wanahoo. GSF have larger mouths and will compete with smaller LMB for forage and can help limit LMB recruitment, which is not necessarily a bad thing for producing trophey LMB. Also GSF have a more fusiform shape making them a more preferred prey item over BG. Under normal conditions with both BG and GSF present, BG reproduction will overwhelm GSF, BG simply lay more eggs and spawn over a longer period of time. I wonder if the drawdowns have hurt the BG forage base or not.

                        One other thought, I do remember late last summer catching bigger LMB with skin lesions on one trip, both disease and catch and release mortality could have had an impact on the bigger LMB in Wanahoo. I suspect the BIG LMB are there, just a lot tougher to catch than in the past.

                        Sometimes it's fun to just sit back and watch the circus.....

                        Comment


                          #15
                          Originally posted by Shorty View Post

                          Also GSF have a more fusiform shape making them a more preferred prey item over BG.
                          I know - that is why a little more alarming that there are so many. Points directly to a decline in LMB. The 18" I caught was very healthy but we shouldn't be seeing that many GSF. Time will tell on those little guys I guess.

                          Still, the best anglers will find the bites. But seems to be harder and harder and harder. Don't believe it's fishing pressure and all that other jazz - I believe the lake has lost it's luster and LMB numbers are down for some reason. Really would love to see a study on LMB also other than just the pike.

                          Yes there are still a few 20+ in there but not as many.

                          Comment


                          • Shorty
                            Shorty commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Largemouth Bass Virus?

                          • Kenai King
                            Kenai King commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Don't know. Could be.
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