NE Game and Parks Putting Out the Challenge to “Take ‘Em Fishing”

With organized sports activities on hold because of the COVID-19 situation, the Nebraska Game and Parks says why not “Take ‘Em Fishing”.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is hosting its second year of the Take ‘Em Fishing challenge that will run all summer. The statewide challenge is one where anglers can win great prizes just by sharing their love of fishing with someone who has never fished or someone that hasn’t fished in a while. The Take ‘Em Fishing challenge will run from April 15 to Sept. 15 this year.

Although this year is different because of the COVID-19 virus, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission encourages participants to follow the most up-to-date CDC and local health guidelines when enjoying the outdoors to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Keep up-to-date at outdoornebraska.org/healthinfo. Take your immediate family fishing close to home and introduce your children to a lifelong love of catching fish; or meet other family and friends at your favorite fishing hole. Just be sure to keep the six-foot recommended distance.

First, take the online pledge to show your commitment to taking someone fishing this year and helping keep the sport of fishing alive and well in Nebraska. Those who take the pledge can receive a pin or sticker. Taking the pledge is not required for contest entry, visit outdoornebraska.org/fishingpledge to get started.

When you introduce — or reintroduce — someone new to fishing, snap a photo and fill out the online form at outdoorbebraska.org/takeemfishing where you’ll be registered to win great prizes, including a including a kayak, $500 Scheels gift cards, weekend stay at a Nebraska state park and more.

Fishing is a unique sport, which allows groups of friends and family to spend time together while enjoying the same activity. Fishing requires only basic, inexpensive equipment that can be found at any sporting goods store. Fishing doesn’t require fitness or skill levels of the various participants, but does get folks outside to learn new activities that can spark healthy outdoor habits.

Avid anglers help to maintain the health of Nebraska’s lakes, streams and rivers as money generated through the sale of fishing permits and aquatic habitat stamps is used to maintain healthy fisheries in Nebraska water bodies, and to improve access for anglers. Nebraska Game and Parks stocks ponds and lakes across the state with sportfish, which means that just about everyone can find a good fishing spot close by. But our anglers are getting older, and we need a new generation of anglers to take their place to ensure the health and vitality of Nebraska’s aquatic resources for generations to come.

Easily accessible lakes are great for new anglers. These locations have a combination of barrier-free fishing access, fishing piers, fishing trails, groomed park areas and highly maintained fish populations. You can also check the 2020 Fishing Guide for rules, regulations and areas to fish close to home.

Open Fields and Waters Program seeking new enrollments

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is looking to add more hunting and fishing access opportunities through its Open Fields and Waters Program.

Landowners are encouraged to consider allowing public, walk-in access on their property for hunting or fishing through the program. In exchange, landowners receive per-acre annual payments and liability protection through the Nebraska Recreational Liability Act.

Game and Parks is seeking to add enrollments within the following target areas:

» Conservation Reserve Program — CRP acres in any part of the state will be considered, but the primary interest is within the eight Pheasant Opportunity Areas/Focus on Pheasants areas identified in the Berggren Plan for Pheasants (outdoornebraska.org/pheasantplan). Landowners can get up to $10 per acre for CRP, depending upon location and habitat quality.

» Prairie-chicken and grouse opportunity — Sites are sought in the southern Panhandle and along a line from North Platte to Niobrara. High-quality grassland habitats with mixed-bag upland game hunting opportunities are desired. Antelope and/or mule deer opportunity is a plus.

» Wetland Reserve Program Easements — Landowners who have Wetland Reserve Program Easements can receive up to $15 per acre for accessible portions of WRP easements with suitable habitats.

Northern bobwhite opportunity – Game and Parks seeks to target opportunities for quail hunting across the southern tier of Nebraska counties. All types of habitat that bobwhites use will be considered.

» Fishing access — Farm ponds, small lakes, warm-water streams or rivers and cool-water streams with trout are all potential targets. Payment rates are per surface acre on lakes and ponds and per stream mile on streams or rivers.

Game and Parks received a $3 million Voluntary Public Access Habitat Improvement Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will provide $1 million per year over the next three years for expansion of Open Fields and Waters.

Open Fields and Waters has added more than 112,000 acres since 2016. In 2019-20, more than 750 landowners participated in the program statewide, providing public access on more than 346,000 land acres, 42 ponds and lakes and more than 44 stream miles.

Game and Parks also will consider other hunting opportunities, as well. For information about enrolling in Open Fields and Waters, contact the nearest Game and Parks office. View a list of offices at OutdoorNebraska.gov/locations.

In addition to the grant, Game and Parks uses funds from habitat stamp and hunting license sales, Pittman-Robertson funds (Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Act) and contributions from partners to fund the program and provide opportunities for hunting, trapping and fishing.

Bighorn sheep lottery

The bighorn sheep lottery, open only to Nebraska residents, offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a full-curl ram. Only one application per calendar year may be submitted. All applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable lottery application fee of $29. Applications must be received in the Lincoln office or submitted online by Aug. 7. Only Nebraska residents are eligible to apply.

The winner of the lottery permit will receive up to four days of free guide service from Game and Parks staff and up to four days and nights of meals and lodging at Fort Robinson State Park.

Since Game and Parks began making permits available, approximately $1.4 million has been raised from the permit auctions and lottery permits. These proceeds are critical to the continued success of bighorn sheep conservation efforts in Nebraska, and made it possible to return bighorn sheep to some of their native ranges in the Panhandle. Visit outdoornebraska.gov/bighornsheeplottery to register.

Super tag

Besides the bighorn sheep lottery, hunters have two other lotteries they can register for. The Super Tag permit offers the opportunity to take one elk of either sex, one antelope or either sex, one deer of either sex and two turkeys (two in the fall season, two in the spring season, or one in each season). The permit is good for two years; tags can only be filled during an open hunting season and with an appropriate weapon.

Nebraska residents who have already drawn a bull elk tag are eligible to enter either lottery. There are two Super Tag lotteries: one open only to Nebraska residents, and one open to both resident and nonresidents. Only the latter lottery can be entered multiple times.

Combo Lottery

The Combo permit offers the opportunity to take one antelope or either sex, one deer of either sex and two turkeys (two in the fall season, two in the spring season, or one in each season). The permit is good for two years; tags can only be filled during an open hunting season and with an appropriate weapon. There are two Combo lotteries; one open only to Nebraska residents, and one open only to non-residents. Both are multiple entry lotteries.

To enter the super tag and combo lottery visit outdoornebraska.gov/supertag.

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