Nebraska

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Top 10 Fishing Destinations in Nebraska

With over 481 square miles of water, and more miles of river than any other state in the continental U.S., saying that it’s a challenge to know where to fish in Nebraska is an understatement. That’s why we’ve done all the legwork for you, and narrowed down the list of the top ten best fishing spots in the Nebraska.


Types of Catch Available

Freshwater

chinook salmon

Chinook Salmon

sockeye salmon

Sockey​​​​e Salmon

coho salmon

Coho Salmon

raindbow trout

Rainbow Trout

cutthroat trout

Cutthroat Trout

brook trout

Brook Trout

brown trout

Brown Trout

northern pike

Northern Pike

walleye

Walleye

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

smallmouth bass

Smallmouth Bass

spotted bass

Spotted Bass

Striped Bass

White Bass

White Bass

bullhead catfish

Bullhead Catfish

Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish

Carp

Bluegill

Bluegill

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Crappie

Crappie

yellow perch

Yellow Perch

State Fishing Records

Top 10 Fishing Spots Across Nebraska

Wagon Train State Recreation Area

Wagon Train State Recreation Area

Wagon Train State Recreation Area is a 746-acre expanse of land. The lake alone is an additional 315 acres, only two miles east of the town of Hickman. Some of the species that you can catch at Wagon Train are bluegill, channel catfish, freshwater drum, largemouth bass, muskellunge, crappie, walleye, wiper, and redear sunfish.

Wagon Train is a popular area or boat and shore fishing and boating, and the lake features a sandy beach and plenty of trees to picnic or nap underneath. The recreation area features a wheelchair-accessible pier so everyone can enjoy fishing at Wagon Train.


Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark

At a whopping 31,000-plus acres, Lewis and Clark is Nebraska’s second-largest reservoir, and it cradles the northeast border with the state of South Dakota. There is a large variety of species at Lewis and Clark, including sauger, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish. The reservoir features modern cabins, boating, fishing spots, and hunting.

We recommend fishing in the spring for walleye and sauger. Both species prefer rocky reefs and sandy flats in the shallows. The best bait are live minnows, followed by diving crankbaits, and gaudy, soft plastic lures. Catches for walleye can be up to 15- to 20-inches in length.

Early summer is the best month for bass fishing. Bass tend to cling to weed beds, where they can find a lot of shelter from predators, and smallmouths prefer rocky underwater structures, such as reefs or rocks.

Catfish are available from spring through the fall, but warm summer nights make for the best catfish angling. Catfish like their baits to be pungent and natural. Chicken livers and cut bait are the most effective baits.


Merritt Reservoir

Merritt Reservoir

Merritt Reservoir’s sheer variety of species and challenges for an angler to catch puts it on our top ten list of best fishing spots in Nebraska. The most common species that swims in the Merritt Reservoir is the walleye, but there is a healthy population of northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, white bass, black crappie, yellow perch, carp, channel catfish, bluegill, drum, and black bullhead.


Lake McConaughy

Lake McConaughy

Lake McCounaughy is the second-deepest lake in Nebraska, and it is located several miles south of the Snake River Falls and the scenic Samuel Roy McKelvie National Forest. The lake stretches for 11 miles, and it has an average depth of 25 feet, and a maximum depth of 110 feet.

The water levels at Lake McCoughy are stable except during the summer, providing a more consistent fishing experience. Walleyes thrive along the sandy lakebed, but you will also find plenty of white bass, rainbow trout, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and northern pike.

The most effective method for catching walleye is trolling stickbaits and banks along the dam in the evening or at nightfall. Walleyes often stick close to the dam and spawn near it. This fact is well-known amongst locals, and can cause the dam to get quite congested with human traffic during peak fishing hours.

If you’re looking for a more solitary fishing experience, cast your line along the southern shoreline, near the dam. Steep breaks and rocky peaks underwater attract fish looking to spawn.

Lake McCoughy offers amenities such as boat rental, boat launch ramps, lodging, restaurants, campgrounds, and bait and tackle shops, all relatively close to the water.


Holmes Lake

Holmes Lake

Holmes Lake is a scenic lake conveniently located just 2 miles south of Lincoln, in Lancaster County. You’ll also hear locals referring to it as Antelope Lake or Holmes Park Lake.

Holmes Lake is home to largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, and walleye. The crappie range from 9 to 13 ½ inches in length, and the bluegill range from 6 to 8 ½ inches in length.

Fish are plentiful in the spring and summer, and cove fishing along the shorelines by boat or kayak is a great way to catch more fish and reach areas less accessible to shore anglers.


Elwood Reservoir

Elwood Reservoir

The Elwood Reservoir is in the heart of the Elwood State Wildlife Management Area. The lake spans for a total of 978 acres, and it is home to a large variety of fish, including bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, muskie, northern pike, striped bass, spotted bass, walleye, and white bass. The Elwood Reservoir is ranked as the #2 spot for catching walleye in the state of Nebraska.


Calamus Reservoir

Calamus Reservoir

Located in the fantastic sandhills of Nebraska, the Calamus Reservoir is a popular spot for fishing, boating, hiking, and boating. The lake stretches for a whopping 5,123 acres, covering more area than the surrounding 4,958 acres of land.

The Calamus River and various streams cross the area surrounding the reservoir, creating a beautiful network of waterways that an angler can explore and fish. Cast your line and you’ll likely snag a bass, channel catfish, walleye, northern pike perch, and wipers (also known as whiterock bass and hybrid striped bass).


Box Butte Reservoir

Box Butte Reservoir

Box Butte is a 2,212-acre expanse west of the edge of the Sandhills, just 9 miles north of the city of Hemingford.

Box Butte Reservoir is a great fishing spot for reeling in northern pike, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, walleye, yellow perch, and rock bass. The reservoir features a fish cleaning station so you can rinse off your catch before you take it home.


Branched Oak Lake

Branched Oak Lake

Branched Oak Lake is a cheerful lake surrounded by spread-out trees that provide ample shade for picnics and camping. The lake alone covers 1,800 acres, and there are two well-kept campsites and two sandy beaches near the lake for the entire family to enjoy.

The marina offers a bait-and-tackle shop and boat rental for anglers. Blue catfish, bluegill, common carp, crappie, freshwater drum, largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, walleye, wiper, and white perch are the species you can catch here.

The spring spawn is the best time to catch crappie. Cast your line into shallow water, near the piles of brush and weeds that grow along the shoreline.

 In the summer, crappie school near deeper water, along structure in the main body of the lake. The lake is very popular, and attracts crowds of fishermen in the spring and summer. If you prefer more solitary fishing experience, the crappie fishing is good in October, and they’ll cluster in the same areas, just in smaller numbers and with less fishing pressure.

Burchard Lake

Burchard Lake

Burchard Lake is a 150-acre reservoir located in Pawnee County that provides a great fishing experience for largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, and bluegill. The best times to catch fish at Burchard Lake are in the early morning, late afternoon, from 1pm to 3 pm, and at night, around 7 pm.

Award-winning crappie have been caught at Burchard, due the great water quality and habitat. Vacation home rentals, boat rentals, and bait and tackle shops are readily available nearby.

If you’re looking to catch bluegill, keep your eye out for their nests, which look like round depressions on the bottom of the lake. They prefer to build their nests near overhanging trees and the corners of lake and pond dams—anything that provides cover and shelter. Bait your hook with crickets, worms, or grasshoppers, and use smaller baits, as they have smaller mouths.


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