The Best Catfish Fishing Locations In Nebraska

Are you a passionate fisherman looking for the best fishing spots in Nebraska? Then look no further! Nebraska’s waterways are home to some of the biggest and most delicious Catfish around, making it one of the top destinations for anglers that want to add Catfish to their haul.

This blog post will guide you through all prime fishing locations across Nebraska where you can cast your line in pursuit of enormous catfish, along with helpful tips and insights into how to fish these waters successfully. So grab your tackle box and keep reading – if you’re serious about catching some monster Catfish, read on!

Top Catfish Fishing Locations in Nebraska

Nebraska offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities, and one of the most popular species to target is the catfish. Whether you’re after channel catfish, blue catfish, or flathead catfish, there are plenty of great spots to cast your line. In this article, we’ll explore some of Nebraska’s best catfish fishing locations.

Branched Oak Lake

Located just northwest of Lincoln, Branched Oak Lake is a fantastic spot for catfish anglers. The 1,800-acre reservoir provides excellent habitat for channel and flathead catfish, with many areas of submerged timber, rock piles, and creek channels attracting these fish.

Anglers can find success fishing from shore or by boat, and night fishing is particularly productive during the warmer months. Don’t forget to try fishing near the dam, where the water is deeper and catfish often congregate.

Missouri River

The Missouri River is a prime location for catfish fishing in Nebraska, particularly for those targeting blue catfish. Stretching along the state’s eastern border, the river offers many access points and boat ramps for anglers. Some popular spots include the areas around Omaha, Plattsmouth, and Rulo.

Fish the deeper holes and outside bends of the river and near wing dikes and brush piles for the best chances of hooking into a big catfish.

Lake McConaughy

Lake McConaughy, located in western Nebraska, is the state’s largest reservoir and a top destination for catfish anglers. With over 30,000 acres of water and 100 miles of shoreline, there’s no shortage of prime fishing spots.

The lake is home to channel catfish and flathead catfish, and they can be found in various habitats, including rocky points, submerged trees, and sandy flats. Fishing near the Kingsley Dam and along the north shore can be particularly productive.

Calamus Reservoir

Situated in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, Calamus Reservoir is a 5,000-acre lake that offers excellent catfish fishing opportunities. Both channel catfish and flathead catfish can be found here, with many anglers targeting the shallow bays and coves during the late spring and early summer.

As the water warms, catfish will move to deeper water, so focus on areas with drop-offs, submerged trees, and underwater humps. The area around Nunda Shoal is known for producing some big catfish, so be sure to try it.

Elwood Reservoir

Elwood Reservoir, also known as Johnson Lake, is a more petite body of water in south-central Nebraska. This reservoir boasts a healthy channel catfish population despite its size, making it a popular angler spot.

Fish the shoreline and any visible structure, such as docks, piers, and downed trees, as catfish often use these areas to ambush prey. Night fishing can also be very effective at Elwood Reservoir, especially during the warmer months.

Pawnee Lake

Pawnee Lake, located west of Lincoln, is a 740-acre reservoir that provides excellent catfish fishing opportunities. The lake is home to healthy channel and flathead catfish populations.

Anglers can find success by targeting areas with submerged timber, brush piles, and steep drop-offs. The shallow bays and coves are particularly productive during the spring months, while deeper water near the dam becomes more attractive to catfish as the water temperatures rise.

Harlan County Reservoir

Harlan County Reservoir, situated in south-central Nebraska, is a popular destination for catfish anglers due to its abundant channel catfish population. This 13,000-acre reservoir offers diverse habitats, including rocky shorelines, underwater humps, and submerged trees.

Fish the southern part of the reservoir, where the Republican River enters, for some of the best catfish action. Night fishing can also be highly productive, especially during the summer months.

Lewis and Clark Lake

Located on the border between Nebraska and South Dakota, Lewis and Clark Lake is a 33,000-acre impoundment on the Missouri River that boasts a thriving catfish fishery. Both channel catfish and blue catfish can be found in good numbers here.

Focus your efforts on the deeper holes, channels, and outside bends of the river and near submerged trees and brush piles. The Gavins Point Dam tailwaters are also known for producing giant catfish.

Sutherland Reservoir

In western Nebraska, Sutherland Reservoir is a 3,000-acre lake that offers excellent catfish fishing. The lake is stocked with channel catfish and can be found in various habitats throughout the reservoir.

Look for areas with submerged trees, rocky outcrops, and drop-offs, as these are prime locations for catfish to hide and ambush prey. Fishing near the inlet canal and the west side of the lake can be particularly productive.

Merritt Reservoir

Merritt Reservoir, located in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, is a 2,900-acre body of water known for its excellent channel catfish fishing. The reservoir features numerous shallow bays, coves, and underwater humps, providing ideal catfish habitat.

Fish the areas near the dam and in the Snake River arm of the reservoir for the best chances of hooking into a giant catfish. Night fishing is also popular at Merritt Reservoir, especially during the warm summer.

The Best Time to Fish for Catfish in Nebraska

Fishing for catfish in Nebraska can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. The state is home to several species of catfish, including channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish. However, knowing the best time to fish for catfish in Nebraska can significantly impact your success and enjoyment.

Spring and Early Summer

The best time to fish for catfish in Nebraska is spring and early summer. As the water temperatures begin to warm up, catfish become more active and start feeding heavily in preparation for the spawning season. During this time, you’ll find them in shallow areas near the shoreline, searching for food and suitable nesting sites.

Typically, late April through June is an excellent time to target catfish, as they are more likely to be found in easily accessible locations. This period also coincides with the pre-spawn and spawn when catfish are most aggressive and willing to bite.

Late Summer and Fall

Another productive time to fish for catfish in Nebraska is during the late summer and fall months. As the water begins to cool down, catfish will start to feed more aggressively to prepare for the upcoming winter months.

From August through October, you can expect to find catfish in deeper water during the day, often near structures such as submerged logs, rock piles, or drop-offs. They may move into shallower water to feed on baitfish and other prey during the early morning and evening hours.

Night Fishing

Many anglers successfully fish for catfish at night, regardless of the time of year. Catfish are known to be more active and feed more heavily during nighttime. This can provide an exciting opportunity for anglers looking to catch catfish under the cover of darkness.

Consider using live bait or stink baits to attract catfish, as their strong sense of smell will help them locate your offering. Be sure to bring a headlamp or lantern to aid in navigating and handling your gear at night.


What type of rod and reel should I use for catfish fishing?

When choosing a rod and reel for catfish fishing, you must consider the species and size of your target catfish. A medium-heavy to heavy action rod with a strong backbone is ideal for handling more giant catfish. For smaller catfish, a medium-action rod should suffice.
Baitcasting reels are popular among catfish anglers due to their strength and ability to handle heavy lines. However, spinning reels can also be used, particularly for those targeting smaller catfish or who prefer a more user-friendly option.

What line should I use for catfish fishing?

Monofilament and braided lines are both suitable for catfish fishing. Monofilament is affordable and has excellent abrasion resistance, making it a popular choice among catfish anglers. The braided line offers increased strength and sensitivity, which can be beneficial when fishing in heavy cover or targeting larger catfish.
Choose a line strength based on the size of the catfish you’re targeting. A 15-20 lb test line is suitable for smaller catfish, while a 30-50 lb test line may be necessary for larger fish.

Which hooks are best for catfish fishing?

Circle hooks and J-hooks are the most commonly used hooks for catfish fishing. Circle hooks are designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, making them an excellent option for catch and release. J-hooks require a more forceful hookset but can be effective when using live bait or cut bait.
Choose a hook size based on the size of the bait and the catfish you’re targeting. Sizes 4/0 to 8/0 are commonly used for catfish fishing.

What type of bait should I use for catfish fishing?

Catfish are opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide variety of baits. Live bait such as shad, bluegill, or crawfish can be highly effective. Cut bait, including pieces of fish or shrimp, can also attract catfish.
In addition, to live and cut bait, many anglers use prepared baits, often called stink baits or dip baits, which have a strong odor that attracts catfish. These baits can be purchased at tackle shops or made at home using various ingredients.