Top Fly Fishing Spots in Nebraska

Nebraska may not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking about fly fishing, but it boasts some incredible rivers, streams, and lakes that provide abundant opportunities for anglers. In this guide, we will explore the top fly fishing spots in Nebraska, where you can find an array of fish species, including trout, bass, and panfish.

Niobrara River

The Niobrara River flows through the picturesque Sandhills region of Nebraska and offers a diverse range of fish species for fly anglers. Here, you can find brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and even the rare tiger trout.

  • Smith Falls State Park: A popular access point to the Niobrara River, the park provides ample wading opportunities and a variety of fish species. Directions
  • Valentine National Wildlife Refuge: This protected area offers excellent fishing along the river and is known for its trout populations. Website

The Niobrara River, which courses through northern Nebraska, is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering an abundance of recreational activities including canoeing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and, notably, fishing. This 535-mile river provides anglers with diverse opportunities to cast a line amid serene, natural beauty. For fly fishing aficionados, the Niobrara River holds special appeal, with opportunities to catch a variety of fish species.

Location and Conditions

The Niobrara River rises in eastern Wyoming and flows across northern Nebraska to its confluence with the Missouri River. Much of the Niobrara River is shallow and relatively calm, making it suitable for wading. The water conditions can vary significantly depending on rainfall, time of year, and location, but overall, the river provides favorable conditions for fly fishing.

Fish Species

The Niobrara River is home to a variety of fish species. Predominantly, you can find catfish, walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. Smaller species like bluegill and perch are also present, providing a wide array of fly fishing opportunities.

Access and Directions

Public access to the Niobrara River can be found in various locations along its course. Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, near Valentine, is a popular spot with several access points. The river also runs through Niobrara State Park, which offers several places to fish, and Smith Falls State Park, Nebraska’s highest waterfall and a popular place to fish as well.

Techniques, Flies, and Seasons

Given the diverse fish species in the Niobrara, a variety of fly fishing techniques can be used. Streamers and sinking lines are effective for northern pike and walleye, while bass might respond better to poppers or crawfish patterns fished on a floating line. For catfish, you can use nymphs, crayfish, and baitfish imitations.

The best season for fly fishing in the Niobrara River often depends on your target species. Summer is an excellent time to target bass and pike, while walleye can be more active during spring and fall. However, the river can be fished productively year-round, especially for catfish.

Niobrara River Fly Fishing Accommodations and Amenities

For anglers planning a multi-day trip, accommodations can be found in several towns along the river, including Valentine, which offers various hotels, lodges, and campsites. The area also features a number of parks, like the aforementioned Niobrara State Park and Smith Falls State Park, which offer camping facilities.

For meals, towns along the river have various options. Valentine, for example, hosts several restaurants, like The Peppermill Restaurant, known for its steak and seafood.

Niobrara River Resources

National Park Service – Plan Your Visit – Fishing page

Trout Fishing in Nebraska – Reddit page

Nebraska Fish & Game Association Forum

Platte River

The Platte River is a prominent waterway in Nebraska, providing fly anglers with opportunities to catch brown trout, rainbow trout, and various panfish species.

  • Louisville State Recreation Area: This recreation area offers easy access to the Platte River, with several fishing spots along the riverbanks. Website
  • Two Rivers State Recreation Area: Located near the confluence of the Platte and Elkhorn Rivers, this area provides diverse fishing opportunities and multiple river access points. Website

Platte River Fly Fishing

The Platte River, one of Nebraska’s most iconic waterways, offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, from bird watching to boating. For the keen fly angler, however, it’s the fishing prospects that truly stand out. Known for its diverse fishery and easily accessible waters, the Platte River offers abundant opportunities for fly fishing.

Overview

Location and Conditions

The Platte River is a major river in the state of Nebraska, originating in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and flowing eastward through Nebraska into the Missouri River. It’s a wide, shallow river with a sandy bottom and a mix of slow, deep stretches and faster riffles.

Fish Species

The Platte River hosts a number of fish species that appeal to fly anglers. It’s known for its populations of rainbow and brown trout in the upper stretches, while further downstream, the river contains healthy populations of warm-water species like smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, and catfish.

Access and Directions

Access to the Platte River is widespread, with numerous public access points throughout its course. One popular spot is the Louisville State Recreation Area, located about half an hour from Omaha. Another is Two Rivers State Recreation Area near Venice. The river also flows through several wildlife management areas that provide fishing access.

Techniques, Flies, and Seasons

On the trout stretches of the Platte River, traditional trout tactics such as dry flies, nymphs, and streamers can all be effective. Patterns like the Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail Nymph, and Woolly Bugger are all good choices.

When targeting the warm-water species in the lower sections, bass and walleye can be enticed with streamers and poppers, while catfish will often take nymphs and crayfish imitations.

The Platte can be fished year-round, although the prime seasons vary depending on the target species. Trout fishing is often best in the spring and fall, while the warm-water species are most active during the summer months.

Accommodations and Amenities

Anglers planning a multi-day trip to the Platte River have numerous options for accommodations. Both Omaha and Lincoln are within easy reach of the river and offer a wide variety of hotels and restaurants.

In addition, several state parks and recreation areas along the river offer camping facilities. For those who need to stock up on gear or seek local advice, shops such as Nebraska Fly Fishing in Lincoln are a great resource.

Conclusion

With its abundant fish populations, easy access, and the beautiful Nebraskan scenery as a backdrop, the Platte River offers an unforgettable fly fishing experience. Whether you’re an experienced fly angler or a beginner looking to improve your skills, the Platte River in Nebraska is a destination well worth exploring.

Sutherland Reservoir

Sutherland Reservoir is a large impoundment in western Nebraska, known for its excellent trout and bass fishing opportunities.

  • Inlet Area: The inlet area of the reservoir is a prime location for fly fishing, with deep pools and cold water that attract trout. Directions
  • Main Lake: The main body of the reservoir offers opportunities for boat and shore fishing, targeting bass and other warm-water species. Directions

Sutherland Reservoir Fast Facts

  • Sutherland Reservoir is located near the town of Sutherland in Lincoln County, Nebraska
  • It is an artificial reservoir created by damming the South Platte River
  • Popular game fish species include walleye, wiper, white bass, crappie, and channel catfish
  • Walleye and wiper (walleye-striped bass hybrid) are likely targets for fly anglers
  • Productive techniques can include retrieving streamers, nymphs, and leech patterns
  • Prime seasons are spring and fall when cool water temperatures spur fish activity
  • Public access areas are available along the southern shores and northern inlets
  • Check Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regulations for licensing, catch limits
  • Nearby lodging available in Sutherland and North Platte

Long Pine Creek

Long Pine Creek is a spring-fed creek in north-central Nebraska, known for its crystal-clear water and healthy trout populations.

  • Long Pine State Recreation Area: This area offers easy access to Long Pine Creek, with several wading and fishing spots. Website
  • Long Pine Wildlife Management Area: Just upstream from the state recreation area, this wildlife management area provides additional fishing opportunities and access to the creek. Directions

Verdigre Creek

Located in northeastern Nebraska, Verdigre Creek offers excellent fly fishing opportunities for brown and rainbow trout, as well as the occasional brook trout.

  • Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area: This area provides access to Verdigre Creek and is known for its healthy trout populations. Directions
  • Yellowbanks Wildlife Management Area: Another access point to Verdigre Creek, the Yellowbanks area offers wading and fishing opportunities for trout.

Lake McConaughy

Lake McConaughy is Nebraska’s largest reservoir, situated in the western part of the state. It provides a wide variety of fishing opportunities, including fly fishing for trout, walleye, and wipers (a hybrid of white bass and striped bass).

  • Lemoyne Bay: This area of the lake is known for its wiper populations and offers excellent fly fishing opportunities. Directions
  • Spillway Area: The spillway area below the dam is an excellent spot for fly fishing, offering deep pools and fast currents that attract both trout and walleye. Directions

Soldier Creek

Located in the Nebraska Panhandle, Soldier Creek is a small spring-fed creek that supports a healthy population of brown and rainbow trout.

  • Soldier Creek Wilderness: Access to the creek can be found within the Soldier Creek Wilderness area, offering a remote and scenic fly fishing experience. Website
  • Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area: This area provides additional access to Soldier Creek and is known for its abundant trout populations. Directions

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Here is the website for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission where you can find fishing regulations for fishing in the state:

https://ngpc-home.ne.gov/fishing/regulations

On this site you can look up information on:

  • Fishing license requirements and fees
  • Season dates for different fish species
  • Daily bag and possession limits
  • Length restrictions for keeper fish
  • Statewide and water body specific regulations
  • List of public fishing areas with maps and amenities

Conclusion

Nebraska offers a diverse range of fly fishing opportunities, with many rivers, creeks, and lakes that support various fish species. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting, these top fly fishing spots in Nebraska will provide a memorable and rewarding experience. Be sure to check local fishing regulations, obtain the necessary licenses, and respect the natural environment as you explore these incredible destinations.

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