Thursday, October 27, 2016

Scouting a New Opportunity

Gander Mountain

For the last twenty years I have fished the Glacial Lakes around Webster, South Dakota.  When I first went up to the region it was very common to catch a really nice mess of walleye, a few nice size northern, and a perch or two.  Depending on the time of the year we would land a few really big crappie.  I primarily fished one lake and that was Waubay, although some of the other lakes in the area were also worked with good to outstanding success.

Fishing in the area is just not the same as it once was.  Sizes are way down, and it is seldom that a northern is picked up.  There are northern in some of the other lakes in the region, but we don't catch them anymore on Waubay.  There may be other fishermen that are still hammering them, bit we do not.

I am not going to quit going up there.  Just the opposite will take place.  I will stay longer when I go north to fish and work more lakes, but I won't be going up as often.  Instead, I am going to start hitting some of the lakes in Nebraska.  Nebraska is populated with some really nice lakes and reservoirs,  and they are not fished heavily.  One such lake is Johnson Lake just south of Lexington, Nebr.  It is really easy to get to and all a fisherman has to do is travel along I-80 to Lexington, and go south out of the town towards Elwood.  Motels are in abundance in Lexington along with restaurants, so there is not an issue on where to stay or eat.  Camp grounds are also available at the lake and they belong to the state so they are very well maintained.
Sunset at Johnson Lake
Campers will find electrical hookups, non pad sites, showers, modern restrooms, dump station, water, picnic tables, grills, shelters, vault toilets, boat ramp, fish cleaning stations, swimming beach and accessible fishing piers. Johnson Lake campground offers 2 campgrounds. The main campground on the south east side of the lake has 82 camper pads with electrical hook-ups and an additional 30 non-designated campsites. Campground is shady and located close to shower facilities. It has a sandy beach area and plenty of picnic areas. The Inlet campground located on the west side of the lake has 31 camper pads with electrical hook-ups and 10 non-designated campsites. It has a boat ramp and excellent bank fishing as well as a handicap pier. For those golfers there is an 18-hole golf course close by.

Early on a cool Saturday morning, my wife and I headed out to check it out and look at the facilities available.  A highway travels completely around the lake and along the shoreline are year around homes and what appeared to be summer homes.  At the entrance to the highway surrounding the lake is PortSide Express. (308-785-8040)  They can supply your fuel needs along with camping supplies and groceries plus they have bait.  Seven miles farther south in Elwood is the Red Barn, and they also have bait.  Along the east side is the Captain's Quarters boat docks and ramps.  This looked like a good spot to put in and there was plenty of parking for your vehicle and trailer.  We did not stop to see if there is a fee to put in and use their facilities.

The second spot was at the north end of the lake at the LakeShore Marina.  There is a good boat ramp there and they have a limited supply of bait. There is no fee to launch your boat. At the same location is Waterford House.  A good restaurant is located at this location.

Moving south we found a public use area operated by the State of Nebraska Game and Parks.  What is really nice is the cleaning station at this location.  A good boat ramp at this location with plenty of parking for your vehicle and trailer.  This is owned and operated by the state and you will have to pay a use for for the day of  $5.00.  You can buy a season pass at one of the local stores for $25.00.  Portside Express licenses and permits.

I could not find a topo map of the area and will continue to look as it is our intent to fish the lake in the early spring.  The lake is best known for the white bass and walleye fishing, yielding hundreds of Master Angler fish over the years.  The best time of the year to catch white bass is during spawning from late April to mid May.  After spawning is over, white bass are most frequently found along the shore line and near the outlet canal on the northeast side of the lake.  From mid-summer to late September, the white bass move into deeper water in pursuit of shad and other small fish.

Walleye fishing is at its best in the spring when they spawn near the rocks on the dam's face.  In late May and June, walleye can be found on the flats and areas where the lake's bottom drops off into deeper water.  This lake has it all the game fish like flowing water through it, gravel, rock and sand shoreline.

We intend to fish the lake come next April.  For more information on the Johnson Lake area contact the Johnson Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at or e-mail:

Gander Mountain


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank


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