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Get ready now for spring trout fishing

Dennis Ahl of Fairbury fly fishes the trout lake at Two Rivers State Recreation Area in Douglas County on a March day in 2017. (Nebraskaland Magazine/NGPC)

This is the first installment in a four-part series of articles on spring trout fishing in Nebraska. Next week: The history of trout in Nebraska.

By Larry Pape
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

LINCOLN, Neb. – Ice on Nebraska lakes is typical through February, but by the middle of March, cattails should be sprouting along shorelines and fish should be moving into warming shallow water. Beautiful spring days, perfect for fishing, could occur with little notice.

Be prepared to take advantage by having fishing gear at the ready. You could be rewarded with some of the year’s best fishing opportunities.

Spring means rainbow trout. Unlike many states with closed seasons for trout, those in Nebraska can angle for these year-round. Rainbows are stocked across Nebraska in the fall and then again in March to improve catch opportunities.

Nothing will solve your cabin fever better than an hour spent trout fishing on a spring day. A meal of freshly caught trout will be your reward. Make a plan on where to go and have rod and tackle in your vehicle. Stocking dates and locations will be posted in March at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Soak up the sunshine. When the sun feels warm for you, it is also likely the same for fish. On warming spring days, bluegill and bass will move into shallow bays to bask and feed. Take advantage of city park ponds for last-minute angling trips. Plan for a quick lunch-break or on-the-way-home-from-work angling adventure. If a warm weekend is forecast, plan a little longer trip to a state park or wildlife management area lake. A small jig or fly that is fished shallow and slowly under a bobber are convenient tackle to have at the ready. Fly fishing gear and techniques are particularly well suited for bluegills in shallow water.

The key to taking advantage of warm spring days is to plan ahead. Dig your fishing gear out and clean and restring it now. Pack a small tackle kit with the basic essentials: a few hooks, bobbers, weights, a couple of small, flashy lures and non-perishable bait. Include a small cooler, because bluegill or trout from cold spring water are delicious. Put this all in your vehicle now.

Devise a plan by picking locations and times that will work when the sun finally peeks out. The 2021 Fishing Guide, online or paper edition, lists several hundred Public Fishing Areas. The Game and Parks website has a variety of maps with different fishing options.

Don’t forget your fishing permit, Fishing Guide, Fishing Forecast and fish identification book. Get these now while you are thinking about it. Persons 16 and older are required to have a fishing permit, which can be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org or at participating permits vendors. Permits can be displayed as a paper copy or on a mobile electronic device.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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