Rick Windham

Rick Windham writes about the outdoors from North Platte. He can be reached at RWmedia@atcjet.net

Nebraska’s archery deer and antelope seasons have started, and run through Dec. 31. There is plenty of time to still get out and enjoy what Nebraska has to offer. Archers report seeing lots of deer being pushed around by harvesting operations. I’m told by some local landowners that you have to dodge the deer at dawn and dusk when driving on North River Road and Wildlife Road. And I am hearing some reports of success around the region.

Antelope hunters have been enjoying some success with muzzleloaders. Most of the reports of success seem to be coming from points west up to Alliance.

Our fall turkey seasons — archery and shotgun — are open. I am getting good success stories. There are lots of turkeys out there, so it is no surprise. This is one of Nebraska’s longest hunting seasons and it runs until Jan. 31.

From what I’ve seen this week, I think most of the Nebraska dove hunting season is over. I think most of the mourning and white wing doves have started heading south for the winter. All I’m seeing is the Eurasian Collared Doves, which stay in Nebraska year round. Don’t overlook that opportunity to get in another hunting adventure.

OK, on to fishing: most species of fish are shifting to their fall feeding cycle. Fishing seems to be picking up in a few areas across the region.

Big Mac’s water level is slowly rising. The current lake level is about 76 percent and going up slowly. Inflows are about 1,780 cubic feet per second and only about 200 cfs is going out. The North Platte River is getting about 25 cfs of flow out of Lake Ogallala. There is about 150 cfs of water that just began flowing back into the canal. This should increase slowly.

Walleye fishing in the big lake is mostly happening out in the mid-channel areas in 40 to 50 feet of water. Go after these fish with deep diving crankbaits and slab baits like Kastmasters. Crankbaits with red and brown colors are still producing well. Kastmasters with a blue/chrome color scheme are getting lots of bites. If you want bass, go to the north shoreline and go shallow. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass are being found in 2 to 5 feet of water, in and around the rocks.

Lake Ogallala anglers are catching a few trout. The bite seems to be picking up at the canal gates and Power Bait is the best bait to use right now. I expect the fishing activity to pick up as more water is released to the canal.

Sutherland Reservoir inflows are still at a trickle. White bass are the only fish that seem to be active right now. Fishing is slow. The inlet is also full of baitfish so there is plenty of natural forage for bigger fish to eat. Tossing a lure out that looks better than the real thing may be an exercise in futility. Lake levels are still about where they were last week, but walleye fishing in the main body of the lake and the area around the bubbles has slowed down. If you like going after catfish, they seem to be biting throughout the lake. Cutbaits and night crawlers are working well for channel catfish.

There is no flow at the inlet to Lake Maloney and the lake level is still going down ... slowly. Inlet activity is sporadic at best. A few walleye and white bass are being taken with live baits and slip bobber rigs at the inlet. Lindy type rigs may be the best technique to try out in the main body of the lake, if you can get a boat launched. The public docks and boat ramps are almost unusable. Minnows and night crawlers seem to be the best baits for walleye at this time. Try the outlet area for some wiper.

Water levels are dropping in the Tri-County Canal system. Catfishing is still good along the canal using cut baits from the diversion east of North Platte to Jeffery Lake. Smallmouth bass may be providing the best bite in the riprap along the banks of the canal. Chartreuse and black jigs are working well for smallmouth. You can still find a few walleye and sauger below the checks.

Get outside and enjoy the outdoors. The forecast looks to be decent for the weekend. I’ll be out there.

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