Barbs and Backlashes

Fish Need Water by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
October 11, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

Nebraska is smack in the middle of the Great Plains.  One thing inhabitants of this region have learned is that the weather is extreme.  There will be periods of above normal precipitation and periods of drought.  We all know that recent years have been an extended drought that has negatively impacted the fisheries in many of our Nebraska waters.  Simply put some of our reservoirs have had years where the volume of water has been significantly lower.  What impact does that have?  Well, how many minnows can you keep alive in a 5-gallon bucket?  Then, how many minnows can you keep alive in a 1-gallon bucket?

The good news is things have improved significantly in the past couple of years.  For example, for the first time in over 5 years plans are to use Elwood for irrigation deliveries next year.  That means that unless plans change, Elwood will be nearly full of water by the first of June next year.  Water is flowing into Elwood right now, it has come up over 10 feet already this fall!

Have not seen this for a long time, too long.  We will take it!

Have not seen this for a long time, too long. We will take it!

Look at all the flooded vegetation!  That is great fish habitat!

Look at all the flooded vegetation! That is great fish habitat!

Ironically, fishing can still be very good while water levels recede–fish become more concetrated and can have less natural prey to eat and that can make the fishing easy.  We will actually “pay the price” for low water levels and less fish when water levels recover.  I will make this prediction right now–fishing at Elwood is going to be tough for awhile.  The reduced number of fish will now have an expanding habitat to disperse into and that habitat will have a ton of flooded cover.  All of that flooded cover will be extremely productive and there will soon be lots and lots of prey items for those fish to eat.  The result is going to be some challenging fishing conditions, but in the long run we will take the water and the fishery will benefit!

Flooded terrestrial vegetation (e.g. cockleburrs, smartweed, willows, cottonwoods) is ideal habitat for panfish species, bass and northern pike.  We should have a few years coming at Elwood where there will be a boom in the fishing for those species.  If water levels stay higher than they were during the drought, if water level management at Elwood is more like it used to be, eventually there will be a lot less flooded vegetation and habitat conditions will change.  Then the walleyes, wipers, and catfish will again thrive.  Elwood’s muskies do well in both the flooded cover and the open-water habitat.

This is great news.  I have long considered Elwood Reservoir to be one of the top fisheries in the state.  I have dried off a darned lot of good fish from Elwood over the years.  During the drought there were fears that we could lose the entire fishery.  Thankfully efforts were made, and money was spent, to put at least some water in Elwood when possible to keep some fish alive.  For now things are looking up, and I look forward to many more successful trips to Elwood!

One of my biggest walleyes; caught from Elwood a few years ago.

One of my biggest walleyes; caught from Elwood a few years ago.



6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

what lakes have they stocked. the web page only shows lakes up to june 09.

Comment by rex eberspacher

I have been fishing at Elwood and the catching is fantastick right now you like Wipers from 22 inches to 25 inches.

Can’t find the Walleye, but I guess you have to fish for them to catch them.

Looking forward to fishing the Muskies this weekend. ‘Tis that time of the year.

Did you take the Elwood photos. I think you found one of my hot spots.

I lost your email address. I want to send you a neat photo.

Comment by Steve Trybus


What waters or what species were you looking for? There are a bunch of stockings in the database beyond June 2009.

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Daryl, It is good to see Elwood reservoir with water in it. This is one of my favorite places to fish, relax, and for watching wildlife. This is surely one of Nebraska’s greatest outdoor treasures. Hope decisons are made in the future to maintain the water levels and keep this lake available for the future. Hope to see you out fishing somewhere and hook up with you. (Not by a bad cast) Take it easy. Mike S

Comment by mike smidt


Good to hear from you. I could not agree more; Elwood has always been one of my favorite places in the entire state to fish, and I would rank it as one of the state’s best fisheries.

For now water conditions are improving throughout the North Platte basin and that is good news for Elwood. There has been talk that water management at Elwood may shift in the future, and from what I have been able to gather those changes would be favorable for the Elwood fishery. We will have to wait and see.

I remain optimistic and am looking forward to catching lots of good fish from Elwood for years to come! Would love to run into you out there sometime. Take care.

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Elwood looks great! We were there the 19th afternoon and drew a complete blank. The screen showed a lot of fish so I guess we have a lot to learn. Thanks for the article.

Comment by Ed Steele

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