APRIL 2012 • NEBRASKALAND
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.
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
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.
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.
P H OT O B Y D O U G S T E I NK E . OP P O S I T E P A GE P H OT O B Y DA RY L B A UE R