In the Wild with Greg Wagner



It’s Easter Weekend,  the weather’s lookin’ nice and you and your family are revved up to head outdoors and maybe cast a fishing line or two, huh? I thought so. Well, dust the cobwebs off of your spinning rods, because April signals the arrival of spring fishing BIG-TIME here in the metro area! And, you know what? The Omaha area offers some good early season action, you just need to know where to go and what to use to catch these sometimes elusive, early spring game fish.  From living in the area forever, from my many years of field experience and expertise, and from my abundant discussions with local anglers, I thought I’d pass along some of my “salty” advice for catching fish in April in the metro area, so here goes.  

You like to catch crappie, you say? I do too! Make plans to fish the coves and bays along the north side of Zorinsky Lake in west Omaha. Don’t forget the minnows and slip bobbers, either (hint-hint, wink-wink, nod-nod!). Also, don’t overlook the northern half of Wehrspann Lake in southwest Omaha for some steady crappie action. For those unaware, the crappie length limits have been lifted and are off for the month of April at both Wehrspann and Zorinsky Lakes. White and pink jigs (even tipped with minnows) also work well to catch crappie in these two waters. Homemade crappie jigs work just as good, if not better, than the store-bought versions! 


If it’s largemouth bass, you’re after, then grab your bass fishing hardware, tie on a favorite lure. I’d suggest a Rat-L-Trap lure or a Jig-n-Pig rig such as this one below. 


 Cast tight to structure in the upper portion of Zorinsky Lake just west of the 168th Street bridge. Make certain to reel your lure in slowly as water temperatures are still pretty darn cold and the bass are somewhat lethargic yet. Later this month the bass will really start hittin’ minnow rigs drifted by structure and along weed lines at Walnut Creek Lake in Papillion. 

For walleye aficionados, stack the tackle box with  Rapala-brand artificial crankbaits like this one. 


Bundle up and fish evenings or cloudy days with a little wave action blowing toward the faces of area dams. Go now to catch male walleye during the spawn along the faces of these dams specifically at Wehrspann and Zorinsky Lakes. 

Zorinsky Lake handicapped-accessible fishing pier and view of the dam.

You know, nothing tastes better than fresh catfish from cold water, and the metro area waters offer plentiful numbers of channel catfish to be caught. The best offering for cats this time of year is a cut bait like a stinky, old shad side. My top spots to catch channel catfish for the skillet are the northeastern portion of  Walnut Creek Lake

A too-big-for-the-net, Walnut Creek Lake channel catfish destined for the Wagner family frying pan.

or the east side of Wehrspann Lake just north of the fishing pier there via a boat. 

Here's a photo of Wehrspann Lake.

It’s most important to fish when those warm southwest winds are a blowin’. Oh, and shhhh . . . Don’t tell too many others about these secret catfishing locations, alright?

Believe it or not, trout anglers will enjoy area action with a special, spring stocking of pan-sized rainbows that has been done already at the Halleck Park Pond/Lake in Papillion. Take your kids, and bring along canned sweet corn from the kitchen or brightly colored Powerbait and Gulp trout formula nuggets for bait! 

I almost forgot to mention bluegill fishing, didn’t I? Sheez! Well, in my view, the best bluegill lake in the area for sheer numbers and size of fish is Walnut Creek Lake in Papillion. The bluegill can be difficult to pattern in that lake in early spring, but look for them around the perimeter of shallow weed beds or in the trees with a red worm or nightcrawler. 

Bluegill fishing at Walnut Creek Lake.

For kids and catch-and-release action, there are good numbers of small bluegill to be landed at Prairie View Lake near Bennington on worms. 

Other fishing lakes to note in the area:
Cunningham Lake in northern Omaha – Fishery is open, but most of the fish are smaller in size and must be released. High-use fishing regulations apply.
Standing Bear Lake in northwest Omaha – Look for high numbers of small crappie from 5-7 inches long. Lots of carp to be caught here, too.
Lawrence Youngsman Lake – This is a new lake at 192nd & West Dodge Road in west Omaha that is not open to the public yet. It has excellent populations of largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish awaiting anglers. High-use fishing regulations apply. 

All in all, April kicks off the start of the fun spring fishing season here in the Omaha-metro area. As you now know, there are a variety of waters that can provide you with some good action. I hope I have narrowed it down somewhat for you as far as where to go, perhaps what to toss at ’em. So, purchase a permit, read the regulations, pack the tackle, then saunter to the shoreline with a friend or a young angler to enjoy a nice, sunny April day, perhaps like this one! 

See you out there, along the shoreline!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi Greg,

Do you have any details on when Youngsman Lake will open?


Comment by Mark

No details as of yet. Stay tuned!

Comment by Greg Wagner

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