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Blue Lake reopens after long closure

Blue Lake
Blue Lake, shown in this aerial photograph from September 2020, is situated near the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge. (Justin Haag/NGPC)

ALLIANCE, Neb. — A Sandhills fishing destination has reopened after a 28-month closure.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has reopened the access road to Blue Lake in the Sandhills of Garden County.

The 2.7-mile two-track trail through private property has been closed since March 2019 because of flooding. Joe Rydell, a fisheries biologist for Game and Parks, said the water level has subsided enough that the trail can be navigated, with caution. This week, he mowed the trail and parking area and created an access point through the rushes along the shoreline.

Blue Lake Trail
The trail to Blue Lake, which has been closed for more than two years, stands ready for traffic after being mowed. (Joe Rydell/NGPC)

Blue Lake is 22 miles north of Oshkosh near the Crescent Lake Wildlife Management Area and Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Because public access to the lake is allowed through a lease agreement with its landowner, Game and Parks officials ask that visitors be especially mindful of rules posted at the entrance. They include staying on the road and closing gates.

The lake is open to four-wheel-drive vehicles during daylight and allows no camping, hunting, ATVs, horses or littering. Small boats, canoes and kayaks are ideal for fishing the lake, but Rydell said vehicles pulling trailers run a high risk of being stuck.

At 311 acres, the lake features smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappies, yellow perch, northern pike, saugeyes, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, black bullheads and common carp.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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