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High water levels expected to affect activities at Lake McConaughy

LINCOLN – Lake McConaughy is expected to reach 100 percent capacity by late June, and the high water levels will affect some lake activities.

Great boating, fishing and camping will still be available at the lake, but visitors to Lake McConaughy should take high water levels into account and plan accordingly to get the most out of their trip. Among activities that will be affected:

Boating: High water levels enhance boating opportunities, as there is more surface area available for boaters to explore and more boat launching facilities. Practice safe boating and use caution when boating in unfamiliar areas of the lake, as rising water levels may cause debris to float into the lake. Current boat ramps with docks are at Spillway Bay, Martin Bay, Arthur Bay, Lemoyne, Otter Creek, Cedar Vue bayside and Cedar Vue lakeside. Ramps without docks are at Sandy Beach, Spring Park and Brown’s Bay. Boats can also be launched at Van’s Lakeview boat ramp and from the beach at North Shore Lodge.

Fishing: Rising water levels flood terrestrial habitat, which provides great habitat conditions for a variety of species including panfish species, largemouth bass and northern pike.  Increased production of young fish of almost all species is typically seen when water levels rise, so high water conditions will benefit the McConaughy fishery in many ways for many years to come. Generally, with rising water and high water levels, fish will move shallower, towards the bank, and right up into newly-flooded habitat. High water levels also results in more area that fish can inhabit, so they tend to scatter more. In many cases, high water conditions might provide more opportunities for shoreline or wading anglers to catch fish.

Camping: Rising water has covered some of the beautiful white sand beaches that draw many campers to Lake McConaughy. However, visitors can still camp on remaining beaches or in mowed areas surrounding the lake. Visitors are reminded that camping in unmowed native grass is prohibited and that though the grass is green, all campfires must be contained. Primitive areas for camping are available around Martin Bay, No-Name Bay, Arthur Bay, Theis Bay, Blue Heron beach, Sandy Beach, Lemoyne, North Shore, Spring Park, Otter Creek, Omaha Beach and Ogallala Beach.  Additionally, Lake Ogallala also offers beautiful, shaded camping areas only minutes away from Lake Mac, and Swanson Reservoir, Red Willow and Enders Reservoir state recreation areas offer plenty of shoreline camping. Medicine Creek State Recreation Area also offers ample primitive camping. Visit outdoornebraska.org to find camping information on more than 70 state park and recreation areas across the state.

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District announced that they anticipated the lake would reach capacity at their June board meeting. This would be the first time the lake has been at capacity since 2011. For updates on water levels and affected activities, visit the Lake McConaughy Facebook Page, ilovelakemac.com or call the Lake McConaughy Visitors Center at (308) 284-8800.

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