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Trout - NEBRASKAland Magazine

Trout - NEBRASKAland Magazine

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Published by NEGameandParks

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Published by: NEGameandParks on Jun 15, 2012
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 APRIL 2012 • NEBRASKALAND
2524
NEBRASKALAND • APRIL 2012
dam is referred to as a “tailwater”trout fishery. Lake Ogallala is typicalof tailwater trout fisheries that can befound throughout the United States; itis, however, unique to Nebraska.Tailwater trout fisheries typicallyproduce outstanding trout fishingbecause they have excellent waterquality and incredible productivity.That is the case at Lake Ogallala underthe best of conditions, but there areoccasions when the quality of the waterleaving McConaughy is less than ideal.For example, in 1984 the installationof the hydro-power plant where waterenters Lake Ogallala altered its releaseand has resulted in less oxygen in thewater during mid- and late-summer. Inaddition, the recent multi-year droughtcaused extremely low water levelsin McConaughy, resulting in warmerwater entering Lake Ogallala in latesummer and early fall of those droughtyears. Fortunately, Lake McConaughyreturned to full pool in 2010 and2011, and its water releases have beenfavorable for trout production sincethen.
T
he North Platte River begins highin the Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado and Wyoming.Trout anglers ply North Platte watersall the way through Wyoming, and findquality trout fishing along its lengthin Wyoming. However, when waterand habitat conditions are right, whichhappens to be the case right now,some of the best trout fishing foundanywhere along the North Platte is inNebraska!Nebraska’s largest reservoir, LakeMcConaughy, sits on the North PlatteRiver in west-central Nebraska. Yearsago, McConaughy itself was able tosupport rainbow trout year-round, butas time rolls on reservoirs age, and theaccumulation of sediment and nutrientsin Lake McConaughy eventuallysqueezed out the cold, well-oxygenatedhabitat needed by trout until nonewas left. Nebraska Game and ParksCommission fisheries biologists knewa long time ago that eventually “BigMac” would not have the habitat tosupport trout, but all along they hada backup plan.Big Mac was created by thebuilding of Kingsley Dam onthe North Platte River, and thehuge earthen dam was largelycreated by the excavation of fill material immediately downriverof the dam’s location. The big hole inthe ground created by the excavationsoon filled with water and becameLake Ogallala. Although the habitatin McConaughy no longer supportstrout during the summer, it does supplywater cold enough to support trout inLake Ogallala, and the water is alsoaerated as it passes through the dam,providing the base habitat needed bytrout – water that is both cold and well-oxygenated. A trout fishery createdby cold water released from a large
Something Special
By Daryl Bauer, Fish and Wildlife Program Manager
As far as trout fishing goes, it doesn’t get muchbetter than Lake Ogallala in Nebraska. A by-productof Lake McConaughy’s Kingsley Dam, it provides thehabitat needed by trout – water that is both coldand well-oxygenated.
A view from Lake McConaughy’s Kingsley Dam reveals one of Nebraska’s most exciting fisheries - Lake Ogallala.With trophy rainbow trout in its waters, this lake has become a destination fishery for many anglers in the region.
LakeOgallalaTrout
Lake Ogallala is also home to LakeOgallala SRA. At this SRA, there is amodern campground with 82 pads, 62with electrical hook-ups. In addition,there are 180 non-designated campsites,perfect for those looking for a camp/fishcombo.
H O O D O U G  S I  N. O O S I   GH O O DR UR
 
 APRIL 2012 • NEBRASKALAND
2726
NEBRASKALAND • APRIL 2012
have been a necessary fisheries management tool in order tomaintain the high-quality and very popular Lake Ogallala troutfishery.Rotenone is a fish-killing chemical that is applied to thewater. When fisheries biologists apply rotenone they usuallyeliminate all fish in a given body of water and then re-stock with desirable species. Rotenone renovations have beenaccomplished at Lake Ogallala in 1969, 1997 and 2009, afterwhich the lake has produced trout fishing as good as can befound anywhere in the North Platte drainage until the carp andsucker numbers peak again. Following the most recent rotenonerenovation, restocking of 10-inch rainbow trout started in thewinter of 2009-2010. By the following spring, anglers werealready experiencing excellent trout fishing in Lake Ogallalaand associated waters downstream. The largest of those troutare now much larger than 20 inches and are attracting anglersfrom all over Nebraska and surrounding states.Because there is no natural trout reproduction in LakeOgallala, all its trout are stocked. When water and habitatconditions are favorable, approximately 40,000-50,000 troutare stocked there each year. Those fish are the same as the10-inch catchable trout stocked in the fall, winter and earlyspring in a number of urban and parks waters around Nebraska,but whereas those are put-and-take fisheries, Lake Ogallala is aput-GROW-and-take fishery capable of producing trophy trout.For that reason, fisheries managers have chosen to manageLake Ogallala differently than other trout fisheries in the state:Special harvest regulations have applied to Lake Ogallala troutin the past, and the statewide daily bag limit of only one troutlarger than 16 inches is now in place to enhance the productionof big trout in Lake Ogallala.The productivity of Lake Ogallala and abundance of troutprey means that the trout feed on a variety of prey items andcan be caught using a variety of baits, lures and presentations,There is one other challenge thatfisheries managers have to deal with toproduce the high-quality trout fisheryLake Ogallala is capable of: rough fishsuch as carp and suckers.The bottom of Lake Ogallala,especially the relatively shallow southbasin, is often covered with a carpetof submerged aquatic vegetationthat hosts a mind-boggling amountof aquatic insects and other preyitems that trout love to eat. Withoutcompetition from common carp andsuckers, Lake Ogallala’s trout gorgeon a smorgasbord of aquatic insects,crayfish and baitfish, and can grow ata phenomenal rate of up to one inchper month. Unfortunately, there is noway to prevent carp and suckers fromentering Lake Ogallala as they comedownstream from McConaughy, andover time the rough fish increase to thepoint where they outcompete trout forprey and destroy aquatic vegetation asthey root up bottom sediments. As aresult, periodic rotenone renovations
Bank anglers can also take advantage of the excellent trout fishing at Lake Ogallala, including this walkway near Kingsley Dam.There is more than one way to catch a trout, as seen by these spinners and small crankbaits. In addition,trout can also be caught by fly and bait anglers using various rod and reel combinations.Blake Steinke fishes for trout on an early spring morningat Lake Ogallala with spinning gear.
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C  l  
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Kingsley Dam
South Basin
Lake McConaughyKeystone Diversion Dam
Keystone BasinNorth Basin
ut la 
Lake Ogallala, also known as the “little lake” because of its proximity toLake McConaughy, has about five miles of shoreline and covers about 320acres from Kingsley Dam to the Keystone Diversion Dam. The lake, createdfrom dirt taken to construct Kingsley Dam, has become one of the besttrout fisheries in the country.
 
Kingsley Dam
Anatomy of LakeOgallala
H O O D O U G  S I  NH O O D O U G  S I  N
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