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Some Updates, June 10, 2013

I have a couple of quick updates about some of Nebraskan’s favorite fishing spots to share with you. . . .


First of all, read this closely, Burchard is NOT OPEN, yet.  For the past several weeks that has been, by far, the most frequent question I and my co-workers have been asked.  That is OK, I am glad people want to know!

We are still waiting on water levels at Burchard to rise.  Yes, we have had significant rains lately and yes, the water level at Burchard is rising, but we are still not there yet.  Let me show you some recent pictures and I believe you will see what I am talking about.

Here is a view from the northeast corner of the dam, this will give you an idea of some of the shoreline access improvements, habitat and fish attractors that were added during the project.

Here is a view of the dam and outlet structure:

And here you can see that we need more water on the new boat ramps!

But at least there is water running in!

We still need more water in Burchard before it will be re-opened.  I still cannot give you a date or tell you when we expect to re-open.  I just do not know.  It will depend on water levels and all I can tell you is when we know a date we will let everyone else know.  I will blog about it, there will be news releases, it will be on our Game & Parks FaceBook page, https://www.facebook.com/NEGameandParks .  I expect the fishing will be good as soon as it is re-opened; we are all just going to have to wait.

Burchard is a relatively old reservoir; it was built and originally filled in 1958.  You can still find original creek channels and quite a bit of depth in Burchard even after 55 years.  The reservoir consistently has relatively clean water, an abundance of aquatic vegetation (i.e. fish habitat!) and is always one of the best largemouth bass, panfish and channel catfish fisheries in the state.  The reason Burchard is such a good fishery and has aged much better than most other reservoirs in eastern Nebraska is Burchard has a watershed comprised almost entirely of grass!  The main water source for Burchard is runoff from its watershed, and with the grass watershed that runoff is clean and carries much less silt and sediment than it would if the watershed was comprised of row crops.  That is excellent and we wish we had a lot more reservoirs with a lot more watersheds like Burchard.  However, the flip side of that coin is that it takes longer for runoff, for precipitation, to fill the reservoir.

Yes, we have had significant rains in southeast Nebraska recently.

Yes, the water level in Burchard is coming up.

But we ain’t there yet.  Be patient and “stay tuned”.

Valentine National Refuge lakes

We recently put out a news release on some boat ramp and boat dock improvements that were made on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.  Let me “copy and paste” the entire, original release here:

For Immediate Release

Fort Niobrara/Valentine NWR Complex

39983 Refuge Rd.

Valentine, NE  69201

For more information contact

Mark Lindvall, Refuge Manager 402-376-1889

Angler Access Projects at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge Completed

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) along with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) have completed several angler access improvements at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge in Cherry County.  Improvements were made for fishing access on four of the refuge’s nine lakes open to fishing.

The existing sand and rock boat ramp at Clear Lake was replaced with a with a 70 feet long concrete ramp extending into the lake.  This is the only boat ramp at Clear Lake.   The new ramp should aid launching boats in years in which the water is low as well as in high water years.   A 60 feet long steel dock that can be removed in the winter and put back in the spring was added.  The dock will offer fishing for folks who don’t have a boat, but anglers fishing from boat docks should remember to stay out of the way of boaters when they are docking and using the ramps.  The site is handicap- accessible with concrete parking pad and walkway.

A new 52 feet long concrete boat ramp was built at one of the 5 ramps on Pelican Lake.  The improved ramp is at the half way point on the lake from east to west.  Improvements here will also facilitate launching boats at various water levels.  This site has a metal fishing dock, and also will offer dock fishing and convenience for boat loading and unloading.  Handicap-accessible parking and walkway were also added.

Boat ramp improvements were made to the west boat ramp on West Long Lake.  The new concrete ramp is 55 feet long and replaced an existing old rock ramp.  A 60 feet dock was placed adjacent to the ramp and extends so people can fish off it.  These docks have sitting benches and a mechanism for adjusting the dock height to accommodate changing water levels.  This site also has handicap-accessible parking and a walkway.

The boat ramp on the east end of Hackberry Lake was also improved.  This is one of the 2 ramps on the lake, and will feature a new 40 feet concrete ramp with a new 30 feet boat dock.  This dock will facilitate launching of boats.  The site is also handicap-accessible.

The water levels in several of the lakes were lowered last year to facilitate the construction of the new ramps, and this, combined with the drought of 2012, has resulted in low lake levels.  Closed water control structures, and spring snows and rains have brought lake levels back up, but all lakes are still below long-term average water levels.

These boat ramp improvements were made possible by USFWS Visitors Facilities Enhancement dollars and the NGPC Angler Access Program, funded through the purchase of Aquatic Habitat Stamps.  This year USFWS and NGPC are working together to construct a new concrete boat ramp at Watts Lake and install new boat docks at both Watts Lake and Duck Lake.   If you have questions about these projects call the refuge at 402-376-1889.

I have a couple of pictures of those improvements I took last fall.  Here’s Dewey:

And here’s Hackberry:

Here is a more recent photo of the Hackberry ramp and dock:

And here is a recent shot of the Pelican ramp in operation.  The fish are biting!

Thank you Tony B. and Mark L. for the photos!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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