• Brad Thomas

Nebraska Crappie Fishing Report, January Edition

According to Nebraska angler surveys, crappie was rated 3rd on the popular list. This didn't surprise me at all since most Nebraska anglers would rather catch eatable crappie instead of trophy crappies. I completely get this thought process, because I love to eat them also. However, the sport of crappie fishing is growing at an alarming rate. There are 3 professional crappie trails in the United States, Crappie Masters, Crappie USA, and American Crappie Trail. That's not counting the hundreds of state trails out there including Nebraska Crappie Trail. I have talked to the owners of these trails who report an increase of 35% in memberships over the last 2 years with boat numbers increasing every tournament.

Is it possible for Nebraska to have trophy crappies? Absolutely, in fact during the trail last year some of the anglers caught a trophy every tournament we had. Most of you are thinking what is a trophy crappie in Nebraska? The answer would be 15" long or 1.5 lbs. Is it possible for you to catch one? The answer is yes. As Nebraska anglers we have responsibility to protect our fisheries for the future. Please follow the rules/regulations and think to yourself, "should I keep it or throw it back?" A good rule of thumb would be to keep them when they are 10" to 14" long and everything outside of that needs to go back in the lake to grow.

Let's go over some analysis that I did in 2021;

Branched Oak Lake

  • The largest lake of Eastern Nebraska is just a play lake in my opinion. I have talked to a lot of Nebraska fisherman and they all give me the thumbs down when I mention this lake. Why do you ask, well the lake just needs a full renovation. Yes, I have caught some decent white crappie out of this lake and I'm sure you have too, but not enough population for sure.

Burchard Lake

  • I've fished this lake many times last year. The average size is 9 1/2 to 11" black crappie. The water depths are good and as spring - summer start to happen, a good weed line develops. Some underwater structure and trees are in this lake. However, this lake is a prairie type lake, so when the wind blows its tough to fish.

- Dave Armstrong, The Crappie Shed

Czechland Lake

  • This small little lake in Prague could be a gem. It does have structure and a 10" minimum is in effect. There are some master angler crappie in this lake but they are far and few between. Following the rules/regulations at this lake will be great for some trophy crappie in the future.

Duck Creek Lake

  • This lake in Peru is also a small but mighty. It's only 4 years old but has the potential to be great. The structure in this lake is wonderful and it is deep. Nebraska Game and Parks stocked black nose & black crappie in this lake. The population is striving and doing well. Please follow the rules/regulations and practice catch and release so this lake can continue to grow.

Elwood Reservoir

  • I never fished this lake but I have heard nothing but great things about it. Looking forward to fishing this lake this year.

Flanagan Lake

  • Another new lake which is 4 years old that has potential to be awesome lake. It has great structure and deep in spots. Most of the population is 8 to 10" long. A concern for this lake? Pike is taken them out one by one. I hope I'm wrong.

Harlan County Lake

  • I have only fished there once and had some success. Just not enough time on the water. According to the Nebraska Game and Parks fishing forecast the average is 8" to 10".

Iron Horse Lake

  • This lake has a good amount of black crappie, average size 8-10". You do have the chance to catch 12-14". You can bank fish it because has some handicap jetties, boat fishing is best, however. There are some nice and deep water points, there is an area with a lot stand ups but the water is shallow. This lake is nice to fish when it's windy because of the cover. The only con would be it needs more underwater structure.

- Dave Armstrong, The Crappie Shed

Johnson Lake

  • I have only fished this lake once and the only thing I can tell you is this lake needs structure bad. I did find some crappie by the dam but nothing to say "yes"!

Lake Wanahoo

  • This lake is a mystery to me, I have fished for crappie on this lake many times. I know there are some 1.5 pounders out there but have yet to find them, even with the aid of LiveScope. This lake is full of 6 to 8" crappies and it doesn't seem that they are getting bigger anytime soon. Yes, this lake has great structure but with all the predator fish in there I'm not sure if the crappie will every live long enough to get big. Time will tell.

Prairie Queen

  • This lake gets so much pressure it's unreal. Yes it has structure and it does have some deep areas but I wouldn't recommend fishing it for crappie. Does it have decent crappie in the lake? Maybe, but I can't find them.

Sherman Reservoir

  • This lake in central Nebraska is the best crappie lake in the state. It has black and white crappie. In my opinion, there is a chance to catch a Master Angler crappie every time you hit the water. Our last Nebraska Crappie Trail tournament the average weight was a pound. Can't wait to hit this lake this year to add to my Master Angler list. The only con is that it needs more structure.

Summit Lake

  • I haven't fished this lake a lot but it does have structure in it, The NE Anglers Facebook group placed 36 new structures in the lake. I have heard that the average population is 8" to 10". I'm looking forward to fish this lake more in 2022.

Wehrspann Lake

  • Another lake that gets pressured a lot. The population is 6" to 8" with a sprinkle of 14" or bigger. It does have some structure but in my opinion it needs more. I have seen a lot of fisherman not following the rules at this lake many times which I think hurts this lake a lot.

Willow Creek

  • The crappie are doing okay in this lake. The average would be around 11". The bad part is that the water quality is crap and the structure is old and decaying. I'm hoping this will change.

Yankee Hill

  • Needs MORE structure in deeper water, it seems that the crappie just roam around crossing their fins so they don't get eaten. The population is 8" on average. I'm hoping that the Nebraska Game and Parks really look into this lake since it is so close to Lincoln because it needs help.

Zorinsky Lake

  • Again it gets pressured hard, but does have some structure in the lake, the structure is old and decaying. Unfortunately there was sewage dumped in the lake last year which didn't help the water quality which was bad in the first place. The population is 6 to 8" on average. I'm not sure it will ever change.

If you don't see your lake in this list please email me at with your analysis and you might see it in the next report.

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