OUTDOORS: Bader Park packed with pursuits | Local Sports

Jarrod Spilger

Last month, I took the time one morning to do something I’d wanted to do for some time – go fishing at Bader Memorial Park south of Chapman.

The park, which is 270 acres overall, has seven fishing ponds totaling 12 acres. Available species include bluegils, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and a few crappies. Fishing is also available in the adjacent Platte River, which borders the park.

Finding a spot clear enough of vegetation for me to cast my fly line, I dropped a dry fly onto the surface of one of the ponds. It got a few hits, but no takes.

As I was tying on a new fly, I looked up to see a birdwatcher further down the trail looking at a distant bird through his binoculars.

Birdwatching is just one of many activities that draw visitors to Bader. There’s also a swimming pond with a nice sandy beach area that is popular with swimmers in the summer, as are the beach volleyball nets.

Camping is available at several tent and RV sites. The latter have electrical hook-ups with a centrally located dump site. WiFi is also available at the park, but that kind of defeats the purpose of camping.

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There are also several miles of trails for hiking, biking, and riding horses (on designated trails) through the park’s diverse cottonwood forest and tall grass prairie habitats.

Back to fishing – after tying on an Ausable Wulff, I cast the dry fly onto the pond. Almost immediately I had a strike, hooking a very small bluegill, which I promptly released. It was still a little too early in the season for catching bluegils near shore, as the water was still a little too cold.

Although I only caught one little bluegill, it was still a relaxing morning. I hope to return later this summer.

It should be noted that Bader Park is a Merrick County Park, not a state park. As such, a state park permit will not grant you access to the park. Instead, visitors must pay either a daily $7 vehicle pass or an annual $28 vehicle pass. The latter is a really good deal for those planning to visit the park throughout the summer.

Likewise, RV camping is $25 per night, while tent camping is $10 per night. Snacks and other amenities are available for sale in the park office.

For more information, call the park office at 308-986-2522. You can also visit baderpark.org or facebook.com/BMPPlattePEERgroup/ for camping availability and activity updates.

Although I only caught one little bluegill at Bader, I still had a relaxing morning. I plan to visit the park again, hopefully when the fishing’s a little better!

Jarrod Spilger is the outdoors writer for The Independent.

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