Fishin on the Great Plains

Last semester I was enrolled in the Capstone course that was completely centered around the Great Plains region. Using the Great Plains as a backdrop and conceptual framework, my partner and I created a coffee table book: The Great Plains: A Collection of Works Exhibiting its Past and Perseverance. (We applied for funds to print the book, but are currently waiting for a response back from the school).

We wanted our book to feature work from as many artists and writers as possible to really encompass what people believe is significant about the region. So we asked our others to contribute. One of those contributors was my boyfriend.

I would like to share the research that he presented in this post:

As a result of the settling of the Great Plains, the species of fish found in the Great Plains has drastically changed. When fish species are introduced to new waters, they may have large scale effects on the species that are native by out-competing them for food. Also, nonnative fish may prey on the native species and threaten their populations. By introducing outside fish species, whether it be for food sources or for sport, humans drastically changed the waters of the Great Plains.

According to Daryl Bauer, a fisheries manager for the state of Nebraska, warm water fish species such as largemouth bass, northern pike, and bluegill were likely native to parts of western Nebraska and the Great Plains. However, these species have been transplanted and stocked heavily by European Americans while they moved out west into waters where they wouldn’t be found naturally. Species like largemouth bass and pike are very aggressive, and by introducing them to unnatural waters, the fish would then consume large amounts of the smaller fish. Many warm water fish species that aren’t native to the Nebraska Great Plains, such as common carp and rock bass, were introduced by European Americans as they moved west. Common carp are a species that are particularly destructive and harmful to native fishes.

In addition to warm water species of fish, nonnative cold water fish species have been introduced to the Great Plains of Nebraska. In areas such as Crawford, Chadron, and Valentine, where there are cold water creeks and rivers, several trout species were introduced that are not natural. Brown trout from Europe, brook trout from the eastern US, and rainbow trout from the west coast were planted in many of these cold water streams. Also according to Bauer, cutthroat trout may have also existed in cold Nebraska streams naturally before the Great Plains were settled. By introducing other nonnative species of trout to these waters, humans may have unintentionally extirpated the natural populations forever. Bauer stated that it is a large topic of debate with fish biologists—whether cutthroats were native to Nebraska. The settlers and explorers of the Great Plains documented green trout with black spots in the Nebraska territory, and there are even specimens in the Smithsonian Museums that were taken from the Nebraska Territory by explorers. However, it is unclear where the fish were collected from, and if they were actually found in Nebraska. Today, cutthroats are found in some cold streams in Nebraska as a result of stocking for fishing.

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6 thoughts on “Fishin on the Great Plains

  1. That is so cool that you had the opportunity to print the book! I bet this was fun to put together as a couple. I haven’t had the opportunity to fish in Nebraska yet but this makes me want to go even more. I have only fished in Colorado and Wyoming so I think it would be cool to see how much the fishing changes from those two states and here. I really am enjoying your independent learning project blog postings! Keep up the great work!

  2. I find this so awesome that you got to do something so amazing with your boyfriend! It is definitely something you won’t ever forget! I also love to fish and reading that made me so excited for spring and summer!

  3. I sincerely hope you are able to print your book. You are a testimony to learning. Clearly, you love the outdoors and giving the opportunity to learn about The Great Plains, something you are passionate about, gave you an idea to expand your learning experience. Congratulations!
    Helping students perceive themselves as learners is my independent learning project. I wondered if you have had the chance to look at any of my blogs? I would greatly appreciate your input. I got behind in the course because of family illnesses and so you probably have not seen some of my blogs. Anyhow, I would be grateful for you input and I am thankful you were willing to share about your book undertaking and about your amazing capstone class.

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