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Interstate Lake Love

Growing up in North Platte I discovered that the borrow pits along Interstate 80 running through Nebraska provide some really good fishing.  Between my career as an angler and my “real” job as a pointy-headed fisheries biologist, I have worked on or fished pretty much every one of the interstate lakes, from Grand Island west to Sutherland.  Most of those lakes offer excellent fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill and some channel catfish, and, depending on the pit, a variety of other species.  I can recall catching over a baker’s dozen of different fish species from interstate lake waters.  I still fish interstate lakes every chance I get, dried off a big bass early this spring from another one.


A few years ago I was somewhat surprised to communicate with an out-of-state angler who could not say enough good things about our Nebraska interstate lakes.  He gushed about the fish he had caught while traveling through our state on the way to the big college baseball tournament held in early summer in Omaha ever year (do not know that I can use the actual title for that tournament without thugs from the NCAA showing up in my office squawking about copyright infringement, but you know what I am talking about).

The gentleman made a return trip through the state last year when his Beavers (the mascot, not the actual rodent) again returned to play some baseball in Omaha.  We were able to link up for an afternoon and evening on one of the interstate lakes, catch some fish, and talk fishing!  Tom Bie was his name and he is the editor of The Drake fly-fishing magazine!

If you take some time to look at the content in The Drake, you will see that it is a prestigious fly-fishing magazine.  They cover fly-fishing all over the world for a variety of fish–tarpon, salmon, carp, trout, permit, you name it.  Tom wrote a story about bass fishing on Nebraska’s interstate lakes!  I think that is really cool, check it out!


The afternoon we fished we put the float tubes on the water, and of course we caught fish!  Actually, Tom caught more than I did, he discovered that a deer-hair popper tossed right up next to shore was the ticket that day.

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If you have not explored the interstate lakes, you really should some time.  If you need some information, start here:


These sampling summaries will help you dial-in even more:

I-80 Lakes Grand Island to Elm Creek

I-80 Lakes Dawson and Lincoln Counties

Still not enough motivation for ya?  Check out these fish that were recently sampled, and released, from interstate lakes in Lincoln County:




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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