Walleye fishing in Nebraska is the top dog. While bass fishing reigns supreme in states like Texas and Florida, anglers in Nebraska have voiced their love for walleye time and time again.
Whether you’re looking for monster walleye or a stringer full of eater-sized fillets, the following walleye fishing spots are the best in Nebraska!
Oh, if you don’t mind catching their slightly smaller cousins, sauger and saugeye, we’ve listed some great locations to catch those species after the walleye spots.
Nebraska’s Best Walleye Lakes
The best walleye fishing in Nebraska occurs primarily in reservoirs, as these areas give walleye deeper water, ample food, and plenty of places to spawn.
I’ve listed my top picks alphabetically.
Box Butte Reservoir
Located in northwestern Nebraska, Box Butte Reservoir is a 1,600-acre impoundment with ample fishing opportunities, including eater-size walleye.
As long as water levels are good, the fishing is excellent; however, in years of drought, the fishery will deteriorate because this lake is used heavily for irrigation.
The water quality here tends to be excellent for walleye, with lots of aquatic vegetation covering parts of the lake, especially the shallower west end.
The rip-rap dam is the place to be in the spring during the spawn, and there’s plenty of deep water and humps to fish during the summer.
There’s no need to get overly fancy with your lures; deep-diving crankbaits, jigs, and live bait rigs work well here.
Bait rigs may also tempt another tasty resident, as Box Butte also has some of Nebraska’s better catfishing.
A campground is located along the lake shore if you’d like to turn your trip into a weekend of walleye fishing.
This 5,200-acre impoundment is in the sandhills of central Nebraska. Calamus Reservoir has plenty of other fish species, but walleye are the main draw to the long, narrow lake.
The water is very clear, with rip-rap banks around the lake, making for an excellent walleye habitat. Walleye fishing is great all around the lake, but the north side of Nunda Shoals tends to hold the bigger fish in late spring and early summer.
Don’t overlook the west end, especially around depth changes, because it’s shallower than the east end near the dam.
Crankbaits, bottom bouncers, and nightcrawler harnesses work well in Calamus Reservoir. Natural colors with a splash of pink or chartreuse tend to get the most bites.
There are several campgrounds around the lake to stay as many people visit to fish and enjoy the lake. Check the Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area website for information.
Covering 1,300 acres near Kearny in south-central Nebraska, Elwood Reservoir is consistently rated as one of the top spots for walleye fishing thanks to the clear waters and dozens of points around the lake, many of which have rip-rap portions.
The time of year you visit will determine where you should begin your search. In the spring, focus on shallow rocky areas, such as the previously mentioned rip-rap banks, where walleye will most likely spawn. As summer sets in, head for the deeper holes around ledges and drop-offs.
Bottom bouncers, jigs, crankbaits, and live bait, such as alewives, will all catch walleye at this impoundment. I prefer to use chartreuse and pink mixed with natural colors when fishing clear water like you’ll find at Elwood Reservoir.
The Elwood Resort and Campground is located on the lake’s southeast end if you’d like a place to stay. There are modest services and a small motel in nearby Elwood, and more in Lexington to the northeast.
For the walleye anglers in southwest Nebraska, Enders Reservoir is the place to go. This 1,700-acre lake is an excellent walleye habitat with its stretches of rocky banks when the water level is normal and relatively clear throughout the year.
Crankbaits, worm spinners, slip bobber rigs, and jigs work well here. It’ll be best to use more chartreuse and bright pink on your lures when the water isn’t as clear and more natural colors when it clears up.
Fishing along the rocky areas during the spring is best, and trolling along ledges where it’s 10-15 feet deep during the summer works well.
There are a couple of campgrounds to stay at during your visit, so you can spend more time fishing and less time traveling. The Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area is a place to start.
Harlan County Lake
Located in south-central Nebraska, Harlan County Reservoir is home to excellent walleye fishing when the water levels cooperate.
In recent years, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission’s stocking efforts have proven very successful, which is why walleye fishing is doing well here.
Fishing along ledges and humps are some of the best places to begin.
The NGPC and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have worked together to create artificial fish attractors near Cedar Point, Hunter Cove, Indian Hill, and Patterson. You can find the exact GPS locations on the NGPC website.
The typical walleye baits and lures work at Harlan County Reservoir. Deep-diving crankbaits, jigs, bottom bouncers, nightcrawlers, and minnows are the top choices of many local anglers.
Some campgrounds are located along the lake, if you’d like to turn your fishing adventure into an extended stay.
Just north of Elwood Reservoir is Johnson Reservoir, known for having big walleye. This 2,068-acre impoundment shows off during the spring when walleye are spawning, but May and June can be just as good if you know where to fish during the post-spawn.
Start in the shallows in April, especially along the dam and other rocky or rip-rap areas. Once walleye have finished spawning, it’s time to begin fishing the flats and drop-offs.
I recommend jigs and swimbaits for spring lures. Then again, you can’t beat live bait.
Crankbaits, bottom bouncers, and slip bobber rigs are my go-to lures for summertime walleye. Match the color of the baitfish: silver, translucent, and green pumpkin are all smart choices, especially when they have a touch of pink or chartreuse.
Public access is limited at the reservoir, also known as Johnson Lake; however, there are a couple of campgrounds with boat ramps at the lake, and the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area gives shore anglers access to the lake.
Consistently ranked as the best walleye fishing spot in Nebraska, Lake McConaughy, or “Big Mac,” as the locals call it, is a giant 30,000-acre reservoir.
Head for the dam in the spring while the walleye are spawning, as this is where most larger walleye will hang out.
Once they finish spawning, walleye move toward the upper end of the lake around Otter Creek Point. Following the alewives will often lead to catching the biggest walleye.
Bottom bouncers, deep-diving crankbaits, jigs, leeches, and nightcrawlers are all excellent choices. Casting swimbaits is also a great way to catch walleye.
Many of these walleye techniques will result in a mixed bag as this also is an excellent bass fishing lake.
Several campgrounds are dotted around the lake to stay at during your visit.
This 2,905-acre impoundment is full of alewives, one of the walleyes’ favorite foods, so these fish also get big.
Fishing is best along the weed beds with a slip bobber and live bait, or trolling a crankbait along the flats and ledges. Several islands on the northwest end of the lake are always worth checking out in the early morning and evening when walleye are more active.
Colors resembling the baitfish in the lake work best, which means stock up on silver, white, and bluegill pattern lures.
In winter, walleye are one of several species anglers may catch while ice fishing.
There are several campgrounds scattered around this lake to stay at during your visit to northern Nebraska. The Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area’s website might help you plan your stay.
Located in western Nebraska, Lake Minatare has an abundance of eater-size walleye, making for a perfect fishing day. At 2,158 acres, this impoundment is the largest body of water in the Nebraska Panhandle.
When the water rises in the spring, start searching for walleye in the shallows with a swimbait or jig, as they’ll be close to the shore spawning. However, as the water temperatures rise, the walleye will head for deeper water, which means it’s time to bust out the bottom bouncers, slip bobber rigs, and deep-diving crankbaits.
Ice fishing for walleye is an option here when the ice is thick enough and safe to walk on.
The clear water on Lake Minatare means natural colors with a touch of chartreuse, red, or pink work well to help stand out from the native baitfish.
There are a few campgrounds at the lake, and the nearest hotels are about 15 miles away in Scottsbluff.
In central Nebraska, Sherman Reservoir is another top-tier walleye fishing destination. This 2,845-acre impoundment is fished heavily in the spring, especially in April when the walleye are spawning, and on through June when the walleye head for deeper holes.
Try fishing along the dam and other shallow areas with rocky shorelines during the spawn. After the spawn, trolling along the flats and ledges using crankbaits. Drifting a slip bobber rig or working a bottom bouncer also works well, depending on the fish’s mood that day.
The clear waters call for natural and translucent colored lures. Silver, white, and green pumpkin are my go-to lure color choices.
Sherman Reservoir also is considered one of Nebraska’s best crappie fishing lakes.
Sherman Reservoir has several campgrounds and boat ramps all over the lake, so you’ll have quick access to the lake no matter where you choose to stay.
Sauger & Saugeye Fishing Spots
Sauger and saugeye (a cross between sauger and walleye) are stocked in many lakes across Nebraska, including several listed above.
What follows is a quick guide to some of the locations where you can catch these walleye cousins.
Since sauger, saugeye, and walleye are closely related, the same techniques, lures, and baits will catch them. The most significant difference is when targeting big walleye, it’s best to use a little bigger baits. Sauger and saugeye don’t get as big as walleye, so using smaller lures and baits is best.
All three species inhabit similar areas, so there’s no sure-fire way to target one species over the other if they share a waterway.
These fish are native to Nebraska and also stocked to boost fisheries.
Recent NGPC fishing forecasts for sauger have called out the Missouri River and its Lewis and Clark Lake (reservoir) in northeastern Nebraska and to the southwest in the Tri-County Canal System and its reservoirs including Johnson Lake, Gallagher Canyon and Plum Creek Canyon.
Some other water bodies that have been heavily stocked with sauger include Lake North and the Loup Canal in Platte County and Willow Creek in Pierce County.
The NGPC suggests that some of the state’s best saugeye fishing can be found in Glenn Cunningham Lake in Omaha, Olive Creek Reservoir south of Lincoln and Whitney Lake in the Nebraska Panhandle.
Willow Creek Reservoir also has been heavily stocked with saugeye along with the sauger mentioned above. Other spots stocked with good numbers of these hybrid fish include Twin Lake North and South in Rock County, Willow Lake in Brown County, Skyview Lake in Madison County, and Big Alkali Lake and Rat and Beaver Lake in Cherry County.
Catch More Walleye
For some great walleye fishing tactics, read our simple guide. These techniques also will work for sauger and saugeye.