Aquatic Habitat 2024

May 8, 2024 eric fowler

Recent projects to improve fisheries and access are coming into their own and producing keeper-sized fish.


An Aquatic Habitat project at Cunningham Lake in Omaha included maintenance on a breakwater and resurfacing gravel spawning beds.

Photo by Eric Fowler, Nebraskaland Magazine

By Eric Fowler

Three years after Glenn Cunningham Lake in Omaha was drained to kill invasive zebra mussels, the reservoir is expected to provide excellent fishing this year.

Drawing down the 390-acre reservoir in 2019 also allowed the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to replace vegetation barriers and gravel on spawning beds and repair a breakwater and fishing deck installed during a major Aquatic Habitat Program project completed in 2008, as well as construct a new boat ramp and renovate the fishery to remove common carp.

Good numbers of crappies to 12 inches, bluegills to 8 inches, and a few largemouth bass topping 15 inches, with hordes of smaller fish, make the lake a great place to take kids. Anglers will also have a chance of catching a 15-inch-plus saugeye, channel catfish topping 24 inches and even a muskellunge.

Several other recent projects to improve fisheries and access are coming into their own and producing keeper-sized fish.

Stagecoach Lake

This 190-acre reservoir near Hickman was drawn down in 2017 to allow for a renovation of the fish population, which was dominated by carp and gizzard shad, and construction of a new boat ramp, kayak launch and a breakwater to protect both from north winds. The fishery has taken off since it was restocked in 2018, and has good numbers of bluegills, crappies, channel catfish, largemouth bass and walleye.

Gracie Creek Pond

Work to remove 28,000 yards of sand that had washed into the Gracie Creek trout pond by flooding in March 2019 and reduced the volume of the pond by 60 percent was completed in 2022. This popular put-and-take fishery, located on a spring-fed, Sandhills stream adjacent to Calamus Reservoir, is stocked with more than 5,000 trout throughout the year. A sediment trap built as part of the project will allow normal deposits to be easily removed every year or two.

Smallmouth and Perch

Big Elk Lake Recreation Area, built in 2021 in Papillion, and Lake No. 5 at Two Rivers State Recreation Area near Venice, renovated in 2021 to remove carp, were both stocked with smallmouth bass and yellow perch to create unique fisheries in eastern Nebraska. Lake No. 5 at Two Rivers, also known as the Trout Lake, is the popular put-and-take fishery stocked with more than 20,000 fish each spring.

Rock Creek Lake

Renovated in 2020 to remove gizzard shad, this lake now has healthy populations of largemouth bass, channel catfish, redear sunfish, yellow perch and crappies, and is stocked regularly with trout.

Cub Creek 12a

This 27-acre Lower Big Blue NRD lake was renovated in 2020 and now has decent bluegills, largemouth bass and channel catfish. The project also removed sediment and built rock jetties that improve angler access.

Lake Ogallala

Renovated last October to remove common carp, white sucker, gizzard shad and alewife, the lake has been stocked with 65,000 8- to 10-inch rainbow and tiger trout that will grow fast this spring and summer. It will be a few years before the 46,000 3-inch yellow perch will be big enough to eat.

Fort Robinson Ponds

The seven ponds renovated at Fort Robinson in recent years are all stocked with one or more species of trout, including rainbow, brook, cutthroat and tiger trout. A few ponds with warmer water were also stocked with other species of gamefish. Cherry Creek Pond is producing a few keeper-sized bluegills; Middle Grable Pond: bluegills and yellow perch; North Grable: largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch and channel catfish; Middle Ice House Pond: bluegill, catfish and largemouth bass; and Lower Ice House Pond: bluegill, perch, black crappie, largemouth bass and catfish. Cherry Creek and Middle Grable also have smallmouth bass that need time to grow.

The post Aquatic Habitat 2024 appeared first on Nebraskaland Magazine.

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