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Lake Ogallala Renovation

Lake Ogallala fishery to be renovated this fall

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has announced plans for a fall renovation of the Lake Ogallala fishery. Deteriorated aquatic habitat conditions and declining sportfish populations have prompted this renovation. To ensure safety, some temporary closures will be implemented.

In late September, the lake water levels will be lowered and an approved fish toxicant will be applied to eliminate the existing fish population. The Lake Ogallala East and West campgrounds will be closed from Sept. 22 to Oct. 23. Boat docks and the fishing dock also will be removed as the water levels drop.

Once the renovation is completed, there will be stocking of rainbow trout, tiger trout, and yellow perch in the fall, with additional rainbow trout stocked in 2024.

Collaboration with the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and Nebraska Public Power District is underway to coordinate dewatering and water releases. Throughout the renovation, water discharge from Lake Ogallala will be prohibited while the chemical is active. NPPD also plans to perform inspections and minor maintenance on dewatered downstream canals.

Dean Rosenthal, Game and Parks Fisheries Administrator, expressed the importance of managing the fishery to improve aquatic habitat and fishing opportunities. Lake Ogallala’s cold-water fishery is unique to Nebraska, facilitated by low-level water releases from Lake McConaughy’s Kingsley Dam. Ideal conditions, such as clear water, abundant aquatic vegetation, and thriving invertebrate communities, ensure exceptional growth rates and angling experiences for trout. In addition to trout, species like yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish have also found success in the lake.

Over time, habitat conditions have deteriorated and the sportfish fishery has declined due to an increase in common carp, white sucker, gizzard shad, and alewife populations. Previous renovations in 1969, 1997, and 2009 were followed by rapid improvement in the fishery and angler surveys have documented marked increases in fishing participation.

This renovation project was first announced in 2022, with additional details shared in March 2023 during Game and Parks’ regional fisheries public meetings. Funding is provided by the Aquatic Habitat Fund and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration.

This will put Lake Ogallala on the way back to being a premiere trout fishery.  Once undesirable species are removed water quality and habitat conditions improve dramatically in Lake Ogallala.  Trout growth in the lake is phenomenal with that improved water quality and habitat conditions.  Growth rates up to an inch per month have been documented.  Big trout will be back soon!  Cannot wait!

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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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