A bass fights to get loose from the hook of a lure after being caught at Carter P. Johnson Lake at Fort Robinson. The fish eventually won the battle and got away.

Whether you’re a fair weather fisherman, an avid ice fisher or simply want to stay in the boat or hang out on the shore, there are several options in the northern Panhandle for aquatic fun. 

Box Butte Reservoir 10 miles north of Hemingford in Dawes County offers year-round fishing for northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, yellow perch and channel catfish. The reservoir has 1,600 water surface acres and 14 miles of shoreline for camping, picknicking and birding - more than 200 species of birds have been sighted here.

Elsewhere in Dawes County, the pond at Chadron State Park has recently been improved. Though no motor boats are allowed, pedal boats are available and it’s a great atmosphere for a relaxed day of fishing.

In Sheridan County, Smith Lake and Walgren Lake offer boating and fishing opportunities, though both are designated as no-wake zones and the speed limit is 5 mph.

Non-powered boats and electric motors are allowed on Carter P. Johnson Lake at Fort Robinson in Sioux County.

The Whitney Irrigation District owns Whitney Lake, but the body of water is accessible to the public. The Nebraska Game and Parks leases land where the boat ramp and dock are located.

Fishermen can even land themselves a tiger trout in some of the area’s waterways. The Game and Parks released thousands of the hybrid fish last year, including 750 in the White River that runs through the northern Panhandle, and 600 in the Wood Reserve Ponds in Sioux County.

And if you’re pursuits on the water demand you be a little more physical, head over to Fort Robinson, where they offer canoeing and kayaking along the White River.

Some of the local favorites for fishing follow, but for a complete look at the area’s prospects check out the Game and Park’s interactive Map at

Sioux County:

Niobrara River – brown and rainbow trout, private access, permission required; public access at Agate Fossil Beds

Gilbert Baker Pond – bluegill, largemouth bass, rainbow trout

Dawes County:

Box Butte

ACRES: 1,600


SPECIES: Blue Catfish, Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Yellow Perch

COMMENTS: Subject to severe summer drawdown; primitive camping and electrical hook-ups are available, all boats allowed. Underwater spearfishing for gamefish starts June 1

REGULATIONS: Northern pike - protected slot limit of 28 to 34 inches, daily bag limit of 10, only one of which may be more than 34 inches, possession limit of 20

Soldier Creek – brook, brown and rainbow trout – public access at Fort Rob and at Soldier Creek WMA

Cherry Creek Pond – bluegill, brown and rainbow trout and largemouth bass

Chadron Creek – brook and brown trout, public access at Chadron State Park

Chadron State Park Pond – rainbow trout – no boats

Bordeaux Creek – brook and brown trout; public access on Big Bordeaux Creek WMA and USFS lands

Sheridan County:

Walgren Lake

ACRES: 100

COUNTY: Sheridan

SPECIES: Bluegill, Bullhead, Channel Catfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Yellow Perch

COMMENTS: Primitive camping; boats restricted to 5 mph (no wake), wheelchair-accessible fishing pier

Smith Lake

ACRES: 290

COUNTY: Sheridan

SPECIES: Bluegill, Bullhead, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Yellow Perch

COMMENTS: Primitive camping, boats restricted to 5 mph (no wake). Handicap accessible concrete boat ramp

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