1) Most of the state’s lakes are man-made impoundments, but the Sandhills lakes are natural and uniquely Nebraskan. Nestled in valleys between grass-covered dunes, many of the lakes are incredibly productive fisheries.
2) Upstream of Ponca in northeast Nebraska, most of the Missouri River is a relatively “wild” river without channels. In many ways, the river is much like what Lewis and Clark saw. Anglers here find smallmouth bass, sauger and a variety of other species.
3) Triple-digit fish in Nebraska? Absolutely. Both blue catfish and paddlefish in the Missouri River can tip the scales at more than 100 pounds. Next in size are flathead catfish, followed by muskellunge. Yes, Nebraska has muskies—big ones.
Birdwood Lake State Wildlife Management Area, North Platte. Photo courtesy of Nebraskaland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Comission.
4) Anglers love debating whether trout are native to the state’s waters. No one really knows, but if there’s any native trout, it’s probably the cutthroat.
5) Nebraska waters hold about 100 species of fish. Many are minnows, but some 40 types of fish are prime targets for hook and line, and many anglers see how many different ones they can catch.
6) Spring and early summer bring prime-time fishing for bluegills, largemouth bass and crappies in pits, ponds and small reservoirs throughout the state. Large reservoirs around the state deliver great fishing for walleye, hybrid striped bass and white bass. Catfish aficionados find ample opportunities for channel cats on all of those waters, plus some behemoth flathead and blue catfish in several reservoirs and in the Platte, Missouri and other state rivers.
7) The cooler waters in northern and western Nebraska offer anglers options such as yellow perch, walleye, northern pike and even some muskellunge. A number of spring-fed streams support year-round populations of brown, rainbow and the occasional brook trout. Stocking has provided even more trout, with cutthroat and tiger trout lurking in a few waters.
8) One of the state’s most glamorous trophies awaits below the 55 square miles of water that make up Nebraska’s largest reservoir, Lake McConaughy, near Ogallala. The cold water released from the lake’s Kingsley Dam creates prime conditions for trophy-size rainbow trout.
Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Crofton. Photo courtesy of Nebraskaland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Comission.
- Nebraska holds an annual Free Fishing and Park Entry Day the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend. The state waives the requirement for a fishing license and park entry permits, giving everyone a chance to sample outdoor activities.
- Purchase fishing permits online at OutdoorNebraska.gov. You can even buy and display permits from your mobile device. Also be sure to check the site for regulations, guides, and an annual Fishing Forecast.
Chadron Reservoir, Chadron. Photo courtesy of Nebraskaland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Comission.