The weather has been mixed across Nebraska and Iowa but a blow out took place on a Wednesday and the weather for Lexington, Nebraska was partly cloudy, with southwest winds on Thursday. I grabbed a really old friend and took him out to Elwood, Nebraska south of Lexington to fish Elwood Reservoir. The state had rated Elwood as the number 2 walleye lake in the state. Merritt Reservoir south of Valentine is number one.
Once you clear Lincoln, Nebraska, the second largest city in the state, it is smooth flat running along the Platte River Valley. The third largest city in the state is the Corn Husker Football Stadium on Saturdays during the season when the Huskers are at home. You can stay at Lexington or in Elwood as there are plenty of motels in Lexington and one in Elwood. Good restaurants are also available in Lexington and if fast food is your forte, the town has all of them.
Elwood Reservoir is located off Highway 283 three miles south of Johnson Lake. It was formed in the late 1970 s as part of a project to rehabilitate and modernize the irrigation canal system. The lake was created by damming one end of a series of canyons. Water from the Canal is pumped into the reservoir each spring to supplement flows in the canal for irrigation. The reservoir’s level falls each summer as the irrigation season progresses, but the lake is partially filled each fall after irrigation season ends.
There is a lot of shore line here and we fished Pike’s Way Arm and Elwood Arm. I need to come back.
There is a really good boat ramp and dock and it was designed to remain in service even at lower lake elevations. There is a 5-mph (no-wake) speed limit for boats over the entire lake. There is one access on the east side of the lake off of Highway 283. Once on the lake, you can choose among the many coves and points to fish. The lake has a surface area of 1,300 acres. An ample parking area and toilets are available at the lake, but camping is not permitted. A private concession operates on a seasonal basis on land adjacent to the lake.
Nebraska Game and Parks regularly stocks the lake. More than 100 Nebraska “Master Angler” fish have been caught at the reservoir. Walleye has a slot limit of an 18 inch minimum. I will take all the 18 inch fish I can legally catch. Those fillet out really nice. Of the four fish limit for walleye, you can take one over 25 inches. I recommend you throw those back after a picture. The smaller fillet make a great pan size walleye and cook up easier than the big monsters.
We left at 7 a.m. and arrived out of Omaha three hours later at the Red Barn gas station, convenience, groceries, bait and liquor store in Elwood. We asked the clerk at the check out about the fishing and she pointed to a gentlemen in line behind us. I turned to him.
This is where you get bait, extra snacks, and advice. The people here are the salt of the earth and will help you with all your questions. I have always found small towns in the middle west have the nicest people you will every meet.
He headed us in the right direction on the lake. He said we should fish the points starting at the 20 foot level and work out until you run out of fish on your graph. Spinners or jigs will work best and also we should go to any of the standing timber and vertical jig and just float with the wind. He said this will be a little tough but you might be rewarded. In other words, you will be getting snagged a lot. Also, fishing has gotten really tough of the lake as there are so many bait fish. He told us we would see bait fish in big clouds on our graph. He also told us to fish right down to the 50 foot level. The lake will go down to 60 feet. Worms were the bait of choice.
The wind came up to about 15 to 20 mph from the southwest, but the lake sits down in a canyon and you are basically out of the blow.
Great dock and ramp. That is Arch my old friend in charge of backing the boat into the lake.
The State of Nebraska has done a good job with the boat ramp and the dock. The ramp is steep, but grooved concrete gives good traction and the dock has plenty of cleats and padded sides so you don’t scratch and dent your boat.
We headed out right to the first point behind us. A light breeze from the southwest was right across the lake and we went out to about 30 feet and drifted back to more shallow water dragging spinners. We constantly graphed fish. In addition, just like we had been told at the Red Barn, there were clouds of bait fish.
We started moving up the lake hitting point after point with the same experience. Periodically we would pick up a catfish or a small bass that we promptly threw back. We also noticed the there was weed along the bottom at about 25 to 35 feet. As we moved to point we would run into standing timber. Arch put on a bottom bouncer, and I just kept plenty of weight on the line to take it down.
|That is a typical shore line with a point sticking out into the lake.|
|We also worked the face of the dam. This was recommended, but had no luck. What was interesting was the amount of fish we graphed in the vicinity of the face. Fish were graphed from 10 feet down to 40, but not one liked our presentation.|
As we moved along the face of the dam working in and out from 20 to 40 feet we graphed a lot of fish, but we also graphed clouds of bait fish. This was starting to get old and after several hours we just motored around the lake and looked for spots that might hold fish based on the shore line and the timber sticking up from the water.
Arch taking a break.
Actually this is a posed picture. I was sitting there blabbering about where should we go now and I stood up for the picture.
We continued to pound the points changing colors, fishing shallows, fishing deep, and did not haul in a walleye. We did catch some small bass and a bunch of catfish. The lake also has northern, white bass, crappie along with other species that did not like our lures either. This is retirement and we could be working, so there is no complaining and we want all the employed people to work hard so we can keep our social security coming in. We will leave you some fish when your day comes.
I am going to be back at this lake come next spring early before the bait fish show up and before they draw the lake down for irrigation.
For good reading buy my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman.”
Click on the link above.
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank.
- walleye fillets
- milk or half and half
- breading flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Balsamic vinegar
- ½ squeezed lemon
- minced garlic
- Tusker Beer
- ½ cup almonds
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 4 ounces (canned) mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon cilantro
Bread walleye by dipping first in milk or half &half and then covering in bread flour. Begin by pan frying fillets in butter. Always cook the biggest fillets first. While fish is browning, sautee spinach with butter, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and mince garlic in a separate pan. Add ingredients to taste. When fillets are cooked, place them on a bed of sautéed spinach. Cook almonds, white wine, mushrooms and cilantro in fish pan and then spoon mixture on top of fish. Drink the Tusker Beer.