Bass Fishing Nebraska

Bass Fishing Nebraska: Top 5 Lakes for a Weekend Kayak Trip

Nebraska is well known for having the most cumulative miles of rivers in the 50 states but another unique trait is that this state also has the most surface acres of water per capita acre. So, bass fishing Nebraska is a great way to spend a weekend!

There are hundreds of small private bass ponds loaded with solid largemouth bass, but there are also numerous public lakes that range in size from less than 25-acres to thousands of acres loaded with bass. You can travel to virtually any part of the state to catch them, but here are my top five picks for bass fishing Nebraska based on my fishing experiences.

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Bass Fishing Nebraska: Swanson Lake

Located in the extreme southwest portion of Nebraska, this 5,000 acre lake is not only the home of thousands of migrating birds each year but also a fishery that often gets overlooked when it comes to bass fishing. This flood-control reservoir is loaded with wiper, white bass, walleye, pike, bluegill, crappie, blue catfish, and channel cats. This lake also holds incredible bass populations in years where the water levels rise into the dense vegetation that grows when the lake is down.  

It is the largest of four recreation areas in this part of the state. Normally, a “fish bowl” of sorts, the lake has a few main points and road bed that produce big fish.  But if you want to experience “bayou” like conditions just head to the west end where, when it holds water, it can be the adventure of a lifetime! In 2-5 foot of water depths there can be hundreds of bass in the 14 to 18-inch range.  

Frogs and plastic worms are a favorite on this lake.

Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits also work well. The dam is another location where bass love to hang out until the catfish spawn begins in June. Otherwise, you can catch them there year round. Due to it’s location it doesn’t get fished hard by the bass fishermen. The avid kayak fisherman will love the west end of this lake with more than 800 acres to work with.

Bass Fishing Nebraska: Prairie Queen Lake

Located just south of the Omaha Metro area, this small jem of a lake holds good numbers of medium sized bass in it’s 135 acres of surface area. A special effort was made by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to include numerous habitat structures such as fish attractors and kept the trees along the creek channel intact.

Rocky shorelines dominate the edges and there is some cat tail reeds along the banks.  

The creek channel runs the length of the lake and you can spend your time there catching bass all day long. The water is very clear most of the time and there are numerous weed-beds where big bass love to stalk their prey. This lake also holds channel catfish, bluegill, red-ear sunfish and black crappie.  There are also a couple humps in deep water. If you like fishing finesse methods this lake is perfect for this type of presentation including ned rigs and neko rigs. The finesse, or shaky head worm is also a perfect bait.  Spinnerbaits and crankbaits also work well. There is only one launch point but it is very well built and there is room off to the side to launch a kayak as well.

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Bass Fishing Nebraska: Burchard Lake

Another Nebraska lake off the beaten path but a favorite for the serious midwest bass fisherman is Burchard lake. It is located just 8-miles west of Pawnee City, Nebraska. This lake has a long history of holding numerous 5 to 6-pound bass. The shorelines were renovated just a few years ago. It’s not a big lake but has good numbers of bass and gets quite a bit of pressure from the Lincoln area fisherman as it is around an hour from there to the south.

Kayakers love this lake because even on windy days it is very easy to navigate. Weeds grow thick by June which makes fishing for the giant bass a bit more difficult. The best times to fish this lake are dawn and dusk during this time of the year. This 150-acre lake also provides great fishing for channel catfish, bluegill, and crappie.

This a great lake to frog or throw plastic worms. The buzzbait and crankbait are my top lures here as well. There are numerous submerged brush piles and some rocky shoreline which provides a great habitat for the bluegill and crappie which are the main forage on this lake.

Be careful, there are numerous rattlesnakes along the edges of this lake!  

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Nebraska’s Kevin Workman with a lunker on Burchard Lake this past year.  

Bass Fishing Nebraska: Lake Wanahoo

Lake Wanahoo is one of the most popular bass fisheries in Nebraska. This eastern Nebraska 1,777 acre lake offers a variety of structure and a long winding creek channel that spans just about the entire lake. It is located about 25 minutes north of Lincoln. The lake is divided by a causeway which has one opening to the north side of the lake.

This lake is just full of bass and numerous 2-3 pounders are caught daily with an occasional 5 pounder being lured to a hook. There are also huge northern, walleye, bluegill, green sunfish, bullhead, and a ton of crappie. Several breakwalls jut out into the lake from both the east and west shorelines gaining access to the deeper waters. One of them on each side is handicap accessible. There is still quite a bit of timber above the water, but each year that declines as the trees decompose from their original habitat. The scene of numerous tournaments, this lake does get plenty of pressure and is a midwest favorite for kayak anglers.

Black and Blue is a favorite color among anglers with jigs, plastic worms, and crankbaits being the staple to catch the largemouth bass.  Spinnerbaits and finesse worms also work well at “The Hoo” as it is commonly called.  If you like to topwater fishing, a frog is the ticket on this lake with incredible action along any edge of it’s shores.  

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Marty Hughes, aka “Kayakjak” with a 20-inch bass at Lake Wanahoo this past season.

Bass Fishing Nebraska: Summit Lake

Summit Lake is located about an hour north of Omaha and offers some excellent opportunities for the kayak bass angler. The recent rehabilitation through the Nebraska Game and Parks Aquatic Habitat program added several jetties and rocky shorelines which creates more structure for the numerous 15 to 16 inch bass in this 190-acre lake.

Summit is unique as most of the shoreline is rock or gravel and the deeper parts of the lake are dirt and mud. This affects where the vegetation grows and allows sort of a natural open area 2 to 6 foot off the bank where bass love to lurk. The area offers fishing at it’s finest and some great camping areas along the shoreline with a very accessible loading ramp for your kayak.

There are also huge channel cats, bluegill, red ear sunfish, crappie, and walleye in this lake.  

The main forage are crappie and bluegill, minnows, crawdads, and frogs. From my experience, the water clarity is always very clear and there is a ton of vegetation. You might want to fish this lake earlier in the season as the vegetation can get really thick. When kayak fishing for the bass on this lake, you can be successful by fishing on the inside or outside edge of the grass lines.

Many of the fish relate to these areas and are of pretty good size. The deep water bite can also be very productive as there are numerous humps and brush piles scattered throughout the lake.  Crankbaits, chatterbaits, creature baits, jigs, and shaky heads are usually very productive. I have had most success with finesse worms and the Ned rig which always produces there. If you like to fish rocky shorelines, weeds, grass, and cat tail this lake is for you. On hot days you can also find the fish deep or entrenched in the thick weeds near the shorelines. A paddle kayak works best trudging through the weeds but a pedal will keep you on spots in the wind as it blows frequently here in the summer months.  

If you’re looking for an awesome weekend spent bass fishing Nebraska, these 5 lakes are highly recommended. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to chase these beautiful largemouth this coming season!

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Marty Hughes


Hello, my name is Marty Hughes, more than likely known as Kayakjak. My passion for fishing started as a youngster fishing small freshwater ponds and combing area beaches with a surf rod in Southern California. Growing up as a military child often put me in new environments with unique fishing challenges. I have lived in Nebraska since 1976 graduating from college with a teaching degree which I have put to good use educating youth the last 38 years. My kayak fishing enthusiasm has spilled over to hundreds of clients I have hosted with my Kayakjak’s Outfitters service over the years. “There is nothing like witnessing the excitement of someone catching a fish from the kayak for the first time!”

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1 reply
  1. Dale
    Dale says:

    An angler fishing Nebraska should not overlook the lakes. They are stocked with various species. Also Free camping for 3 days on majority of these small ponds.


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