By Renae Blum
Looking for a place to go fishing with the family? Nebraska Game and Parks has identified dozens of public fishing waters across the state that are perfect for families – known as Family Friendly Lakes. These sites are safe, comfortable and have great fish-catching potential. They also have a combination of barrier-free fishing piers, fishing trails, groomed park areas, concessions, playgrounds, picnic areas and highly maintained fish populations.
Here are several Family Friendly Lakes to put on your list:
Fort Robinson State Park ponds, Crawford
Several fishing lakes can be found near Fort Robinson State Park, including the 15-acre Carter P. Johnson Lake, and all have great angler access, thanks to a major renovation project. Expect to catch primarily bass, bluegill and trout, and to enjoy the scenery – it’s some of the best in the state. Make sure to take advantage of everything else Fort Robinson has to offer, including camping, historic lodging, swimming, hiking, equestrian trails and more.
Holmes Lake, Lincoln
Located in one of the state’s largest population centers, Holmes Lake sees a lot of use but is still a great place to fish. Take the kids and go catch bluegills, or cast for crappies, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye and trout, which are stocked in fall, winter and spring. Holmes Lake also features two concrete boat ramps and an accessible dock, and has plenty of other attractions to keep the family busy, including walking trails, playgrounds and volleyball courts.
Hershey Wildlife Management Area, Hershey
If you’re headed across the state on I-80, stop to wet a line; There are dozens of lakes within casting distance. One of them is the 53-acre lake at Hershey Wildlife Management Area, which in recent years produced the most trophy-size fish of all the I-80 lakes in western Nebraska. Here, you can catch bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and perhaps rock bass, crappie, walleye and pike. The lake boasts several angler access improvements, including an improved boat ramp.
Skyview Lake, Norfolk
Located in Norfolk, Skyview Lake is one of the state’s urban waters, located in a major city. Much like Holmes Lake, it has a lot to recommend it to families planning a day of fishing: picnic shelters, a playground area, hike-bike trail and restrooms. Within Skyview’s 50 acres, you can catch bass, bluegill, crappies and channel catfish, and an accessible deck is available, too.
Lake Halleck, Papillion
Lake Halleck, located in Papillion, is what Game and Parks’ Fisheries Outreach Program Manager Daryl Bauer refers to as “a good little city lake.” It’s part of Halleck Park, which offers 70 acres of parkland as well as playgrounds, restrooms, hiking paths and a diamond ball. Take a break from fishing to enjoy some pickleball, horseshoes or sand volleyball. Anglers can expect to catch bass, bluegill and channel catfish, and rainbow trout are stocked seasonally. “It’s a nice area,” Bauer said.
Bessey Fish Pond, Halsey
This small sandpit lake is located on the Nebraska National Forest at Halsey, making for some beautiful scenery. Anglers can catch bass, bluegill, some large channel catfish, and trout in fall and winter. The area features a nice fishing deck with a concrete path leading to it, as well as campgrounds, a playground across the river by the visitor’s center, and restrooms. Take the weekend and camp in the forest!
These are just a few Family Friendly Lakes across the state; for a full list, see the 2022 Fishing Guide, which designs Family Friendly Lakes in its list of public fishing areas. Remember that you’ll need a fishing permit if you’re over age 16. Happy fishing! ■