I’ve had the privilege of traveling to other parts of the country to sample the outdoor resources those areas have to offer. Seldom, though, have I been hurriedly whisked from place to place, staying in five different hotels, traveled 1200 miles by car, fished five different lakes and had so much fun in five short days as I did recently on a press trip to Nebraska.
You already shared my excitement of me catching my first smallmouth bass. You probably said “goll-ee” like I did when you saw the photo of that big 10 pound northern pike I caught. Here, in a nutshell, is what I experienced in that whirlwind Nebraska trip.
For starters, I flew into Denver and met my two press companions, John Felsher and Brad Uhl. Because of difficulty in arranging flight schedules, I arrived in Denver a day early, spending the night there before heading out for Nebraska with my partners late the next day.
First stop was McCook; we got there in time to sample Red Willow Reservoir where we were guided by Arin Riggins. The bass and walleye didn’t cooperate that afternoon but Riggins opted for Plan B; we fished night crawlers and caught a bunch of channel catfish.
Next morning, we joined guide Steve Lytle to fish nearby Swanson Reservoir. Someone confided that Lytle, who has fished the professional bass circuit, knew the location of every fish in the lake. After he put us on a school of suspended hybrid striped bass (the locals call them “wipers”; they’re a cross between white bass and stripers) I have to agree. We caught several in the 5-6 pound range. The most fun-filled time on my trip was when we approached the boat launch preparing to leave Swanson. Literally thousands of white bass began chasing shad on the surface and for half an hour, it was a fish on every cast. I don’t know when I’ve had a more exciting time on a lake.
Next stop was Ogallala to fish massive Lake McConaughy, a sprawling 30,000 acre lake located on the North Platte River. Under the tutelage of guide Jerry Steinke, we caught big northern pike, white bass, and largemouth bass.
The fun was just beginning when we headed to Alliance to fish scenic Box Butte Reservoir. My guide was Mike Hulquist. Drifting jigs with night crawlers added, we caught probably a dozen northern pike, a couple of yellow perch and a few walleyes.
Traveling to Scottsbluff for our final day of fishing, we were teamed up with guide Cody Bohl whose expertise was walleye fishing; he has won several tournaments fishing for walleyes. Fishing jigs with an additive I’ve never heard of, a live leach, we caught near limits of walleyes, my first smallmouth bass and several channel catfish.
One of the guides, outdoor writer Steve Frederick, lives in Scottsbluff and after cleaning our catch of walleyes, he invited us to lunch at his home with the freshly caught walleyes being the main course. I love to eat bluegills and crappie and catfish and bass. I have to say that those walleye filets, dipped in egg batter and rolled in seasoned cracker crumbs and pan-fried were hands-down, the finest fish I ever tasted.
The following morning, it was back to Denver for our flights back home.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to the people who made my trip possible. Time and space will not allow me to give all the hospitable folks up that way their due. However, I can enthusiastically recommend that you give Nebraska’s fantastic fishing a try. If you’re interested, for starters you might want to contact the Nebraska Tourism Commission at www.visitnebraska.com.
I never thought of Nebraska being a state with great fishing. After spending five days there fishing five lakes, catching fish at every stop, I’m a sold-out believer. I can heartily sing the praises of what that beautiful state has to offer the fisherman. I’m ready to go back.