While Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area is certainly a popular spot to cast a line and catch a fish throughout the summer months, as the temperature drops and the lakes freeze over there are no shortage of lines in the water as dedicated anglers venture out to try their hands at ice fishing.
Although catching fish in below-freezing temperatures may seem more difficult than open water angling, according to local angler Dick Crow the chances of landing an abundance of fish under the ice are high.
“People don’t realize how good of fishing it actually it is, you can get right on top of some panfish and you can really catch a lot of fish this time of year” he said in a Wednesday interview with the Tribune. “I was out at the lakes today and I bet I caught over 200 bluegill, I was just on top of them and every time I would drop my jig down I’d have another fish on.”
According to Crow, and several other area anglers, the early season has proven to be ideal for catching panfish – which include perch, crappie, and bluegill – as well as larger species of fish.
“Right now I’ve been catching bluegill, crappies and you’ll catch largemouth (bass) here and there and actually a lot of channel catfish,” Crow said.
Fellow Fremonter Arthur Ford has also had his chances at some of the bigger fish cruising the depths of the various lakes at the State Recreation Area while ice fishing.
“I’ve hooked into a few muskie, but I’ve only landed one about four years ago and it had to be about 30 inches,” he said. “But I’ve caught pretty much everything out there trout, bass, catfish, all sorts of stuff.”
Whether the fish are big or small, for Omahan Greg Bowles the chances of pulling either out of an augured ice hole makes this specific type of angling an adventure.
“When I am fishing on open water I am going for a target species, but ice fishing I use little wax worms, really colorful jigs and a little fishing rod and you can catch anywhere from a 20 pound catfish, a six pound bass, all the way down to a little 3-inch long sunfish,” he said. “So it is more of an adventure just because of the thrill of being able to catch something so big on such light tackle, it’s always fun.”
While ice fishing proves to be an enjoyable pastime for many area residents, trekking out onto a frozen lake can also prove to be dangerous. So taking the proper safety precautions while out on the ice is an important part of the sport.
“Safety is a number-one concern for me and I used to work at Cabela’s so I would always tell people that safety spikes and a spud bar are must-own gear,” Ford said.
A spud bar is a long metal bar, similar to a ski pole, that ice fishers use to make sure the ice is sturdy while walking out to their fishing hole.
“A spud bar is a huge one that you take when you are walking out and just hit it into the ice and it just makes sure that it is solid enough as you walk out,” Crow said. “You just kind of use it like a hiking stick.”
Safety spikes are essentially two ice picks that are connected by a cord and worn like a necklace in case an angler were to fall through the ice.
“I have a striker suit that floats, but there is a pick that you carry around your neck,” Crow said. “So if something would happen where you would go in, it pulls apart and you have one in each hand where you can actually get some traction and pull yourself out, because with wet ice there is no way you can grab on to anything.”
According to Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, there are a few important safety measures to take before heading out on the ice that include using a spud bar and keeping safety picks on your person at all times.
The agency also reminds anglers that the minimum thickness is at least 4 inches of solid ice to support one person. They also recommend wearing a life jacket, bringing a long rope, fishing with others and telling someone where you will be fishing before heading out.
While ice fishing is already heating up at Fremont Lakes SRA, several upcoming events in the area will provide an opportunity for experienced and beginner ice-anglers to enjoy the sport over the next few weeks.
For experienced ice-anglers, the 6th Annual KWPT Nebraska State Ice Fishing Championship will be held at Wildwood Lake on Sunday, January 14 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“I run a kid’s white perch tournament in June and we do that all through donations and fundraisers and after the first year it went really well, so that winter we decided to have this tournament in the winter as a fundraiser,” Randy Tampke, tournament organizer, said. “The first year we put it together in like two weeks and had around 25 teams, since then we have moved it to Wildwood and we have hit 50 or 52 teams already.”
There will be a Mandatory Rules/Calcutta Banquet held the night before, on Saturday at 4 p.m., in the Hot Spot Party Room at Raymonos Pizza at 5580 West Mill Road in Raymond.
The tournament features teams of two, and teams must register at the Mandatory Rules/Calcutta Banquet on Saturday. The entry fee per team is $70 cash only.
“We used to do signups at the lake the morning of, but we got too big and it got too cold. So now we do a meeting at the Hot Spot,” Tampke said. “It’s a pretty good deal we actually have some pro teams coming in and last year was the furthest we have had anybody come from, we had a lady who flew in from Las Vegas to come fish it.”
For those looking to get into ice fishing, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will host an on-ice clinic on January 20th at Lake Wanahoo SRA from 1-4 p.m.
There will be limited ice fishing equipment available, and volunteers will be in attendance to assist with all aspects of ice fishing. A park entry permit is required for entry at Lake Wanahoo.
The Fremont City Council during its Tuesday evening meeting voted in favor of and had the second reading of an ordinance that would alter the zoning of an 8.6 acre parcel of land on the east side of town.
The land, located in the general area of 3001 E. Military Ave., is currently zoned as RR Residential and with the passage of the ordinance would be zoned as R-4 High-Density Residential. The nearly 9 acres of land encompasses a portion of the proposed SunRidge Place housing development, which calls for approximately 240 units of apartments, 75 townhomes, 46 duplexes and 112 single family homes spanning across 65 acres.
Following 7-1 approval from the Fremont Planning Commission during its Dec. 20 meeting, the Council voted in favor of the zoning change by a vote of 7-0 – Councilmember Matt Bechtel wasn’t in attendance — and had the first reading of the ordinance during its Dec. 26 meeting.
During the Dec. 26 meeting, extensive conversation revolved around whether the traditional ordinance rules of having three meetings with three readings of the ordinance should take place, or whether the rules should be suspended and move to third and final reading since City Planner Troy Anderson said the zoning move fits within the parameters of the City of Fremont’s Comprehensive Land-Use Plan.
Ultimately, the decision was made to have three meetings and three readings to give the public every opportunity to speak in favor of, or against, the project.
By a vote of 6-2, the Council voted in favor of passage of the ordinance on the condition that the third and final reading – and final vote – be held until the first meeting of February, which is Feb. 13. The two no-votes came from Ward 4’s Bechtel and Ward 3 Councilmember Mike Kuhns. Kuhns, who has been consistently in favor of the SunRidge Place Development, appeared to vote no because he wasn’t in favor of slowing down the normal ordinance protocol.
Bechtel, however, as of now remains in opposition of the project, which is being developed by Don Peterson and Associates Real Estate, the developers of several other Fremont sub-divisions on the East side of Fremont.
Bechtel, along with many others, already have concerns about the overall traffic in the area. Adding a large subdivision will only exacerbate the risks, he said.
“Last election it was a campaign platform for some people about what we were going to do to keep the kids safe out there, so it is a big deal,” Bechtel said. “I remember how stupid I was when I was in sixth grade, but I was even dumber when I was 10 in fifth grade. And you will have 10-year-olds out there running around, who don’t have their brains developed, and that’s so many cars to be around.”
He also highlighted that many residents were of the understanding that any development that sprouted up would be a “Day Acres” part two, or several R-1 Residential dwellings.
Several Fremont residents issued more concerns before the Council Tuesday evening. Meeting attendee Brad Yerger submitted to the Council a petition with more than 100 signatures showing citizen disapproval of what is happening in terms of the proposed SunRidge Place Development.
“I’ve been out canvasing since the last meeting, and personally, I’ve had contact with about 150 residents in this area,” Yerger said. “I don’t have any that have said they’ve approved of what is going on. I had two or three who said ‘I don’t have enough information,’ and one who said ‘I agree with everything you’ve said, but I just don’t sign petitions.’ Everyone else that I’ve talked to is on this list tonight, many are in the room and they share the same concerns.”
With Fremont Middle School and Johnson Crossing Academic Center being erected on the east side of Fremont, Yerger said residents always knew that some form of new housing subdivision would be built, however, this is not what many expected.
“We fully realized that development of housing would go on there, but it wasn’t until recently, and until this current thought plan came about, that it was a high-density design,” he said. “And I can tell you as a property owner in that area when we built the schools, that wasn’t part of any plan that I ever heard.”
Other concerns raised in addition to the R-4 High-Density Residential housing included drainage problems, overfilling area schools, property values and the constant looming concern of pedestrian and child safety.
Ward 3 Councilmember Scott Schaller made it a point of emphasis to say that with two other developments recently rezoned as PD Planned Developments – Gallery 23 East and the proposed Duke Estates subdivision — that the Council gave both developers the green light on the rezoning with the understanding that all concerns would be met moving forward if more action was to be taken.
The rezoning is around step two of 10 that would be needed for this project to come to fruition, Anderson also added during discussion.
“It is what it is to continue it (the third reading), but my point is that with the other two subdivisions we’ve done – Gallery 23 (East) and Duke Estates – some of the same exact points were brought up,” Schaller said. “Like I stated, this is a different group of citizens, and we all have some of the same concerns, but at the end of the day those concerns still weren’t 100-percent addressed (with prior zoning changes).
“We talked about them, and talked about them and talked about them, but there is still nothing concrete on how everything is going to be perfectly fixed. Until we have the studies in front of us, we still won’t know exactly how the traffic is going to be affected and how the water flow will be affected. And these are things that will come up at a later part of the development. We can delay it and delay it, but at the end of the day we still aren’t going to have any concrete information until later on.”
Amy Kremke is excited to see the response to a program that helps youth.
Thus far, 30 people have signed up to be mentors for the TeamMates of Logan View program.
The kickoff for this mentoring program is Jan. 16 at Logan View Public Schools.
That day, motivational speaker DeMoine Adams, a former Blackshirt defensive end for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and TeamMates promoter, will explain the program to students and staff.
He will attend basketball games that night against Arlington where mentors from Logan View and Arlington will be recognized.
Logan View TeamMates board members will be at the games with mentoring information and applications for those interested in becoming a mentor or those who just want to learn more about the program. Logan View will start the mentoring process beginning with students in fourth grade.
Fourth-graders and their parents and people who’ve completed the application process to become mentors will be admitted to the basketball games for free.
Of the 30 people who’ve signed up to be mentors, about 20 have been contacted, Kremke said.
Two already have had training and are ready to be matched; 12 are ready to be trained.
“There’s some action going on so that’s really cool,” she said. “It’s really exciting. I think that people are interested and want to be a positive role model in the lives of youth and this is one way to do it.”
The TeamMates of Logan View chapter will serve youth in four communities including Winslow, Nickerson, Hooper and Uehling.
It joins communities across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Wyoming to provide mentors for youth in grades three through 12.
With the school-based program, mentors come to the school for one visit per week during the school year to meet with the student.
“Anyone can be mentored. It’s a program that includes everyone,” Kremke said.
Mentors provide a sense of hope and vision for young people by being another caring adult in their lives.
Kremke encourages area residents to be mentors.
“There will always be people who we’re looking for to come into the mentoring program,” she said. “Mentors will always be needed as long as this program is ongoing and I foresee it growing.”
The Logan View chapter has designated two days for mentor training from 1-4 p.m. Saturday and 6-9 p.m. Jan. 24 at Logan View High School.
Only one training session is required for those who’ve already completed the application process.
The sessions are not exclusive to those who’ve applied to be a mentor.
Anyone who’d just like to learn about TeamMates may attend a training session.
“You can come to a session before you’ve ever filled out an application – if you just want to find out more or see if this would really work for you, given everybody’s busy lives,” Kremke said. “You have to navigate this road to see if this would work for you, because this is a commitment.”
Anyone who cares about youth and who’s a positive role model is encouraged to be a mentor.
Mentors must be at least 18 years old and have a high school degree or GED equivalent. The process to become a mentor begins with completing an application online at https://teammates.org or by picking up and application at the Logan View School office. Those who’ve applied will need to complete a background check and attend a training session.
Those who plan to attend a training session are asked to RSVP TeamMates coordinators Lori Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or Diane Hanel at email@example.com or call the school at 402-654-3317 to reserve a spot.
After the training session, TeamMates coordinators at Logan View will match mentors with students who’ve signed up to be in the program.
Students can become part of the program by being nominated by a teacher or parent or can nominate themselves.
Former Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne and his wife, Nancy, founded the TeamMates program in 1991 as a way to provide support and encouragement for youth. In August, Tom Osborne spoke about the program at Logan View.
“It was wonderful to hear him speak about what the TeamMates program can do for youth and how mentoring can help the youth reach their full potential,” Kremke said.
The establishment of a LoganView TeamMates chapter began last fall.
Kremke hopes area residents will consider becoming mentors.
“Mentors will always be needed as long as it is ongoing and I foresee it growing,” Kremke said. “We’ll continue to get mentors and continue to have students sign up to be a mentee.”
Kremke believes mentors benefit from participating.
“I think mentors get just as much out of it as the mentees,” she said. “It’s being a positive role model in somebody’s life and who doesn’t need that? We could all use another best friend.”