Tag Archives: ice fishing

Winter Excursions

December 22, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

Got cabin fever? Make plans to venture into the blistering cold for some fun this winter, but don’t forget to bundle up. Whether you’re an experienced athlete or looking to burn a few of those lingering holiday calories—your winter adventure awaits!

Mt. Crescent
17026 Snowhill Lane
Honey Creek, Iowa

There’s a mountain in the Omaha area? Well, kind of. If your heart yearns for rolling hills covered in a thick blanket of immaculate snow, there is no need to venture more than 15 miles outside of Omaha. Mt. Crescent Ski Area is the perfect place to hone your skiing abilities or learn how to ski and snowboard for the first time.

UNO Outdoor Venture Center Trips
6001 Dodge St.

Located in the campus wellness center (aka the HPER Building), Outdoor Venture Center hosts an epic Minnesota winter excursion with dogsledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing (Jan. 2-6); a Wyoming snow skiing and snowboarding trip (Jan. 12-15); and wilderness first aid program (Feb. 17-19). The trips are open to UNO students and the general public. Register on the OVC page of the UNO website. The center also rents snowshoes and skis to the public.

Ice Fishing
Visit Nebraska Game and Parks’ website for seasonal ice fishing updates.outdoornebraska.gov/fishing

Grab an ice auger, poles, bait, and a bucket to sit on. If you or a friend have a heated ice hut, then you’re in luck. Ice fishing is fun for the whole family. Just make sure there are 4 inches or more of ice. Ice fishing is the perfect way to spend a cold winter day. The variety and quantity of fish in Standing Bear Lake makes it one of Omaha’s best locations for ice fishing. Other local ice fishing destinations include Lake Manawa, Cunningham Lake, Lake Zorinsky, and any other popular fishing waters.

Top Sledding Hills

Omaha is home to some of the state’s best sledding hills. Take the kids or unleash your own inner child. Memorial Park (go to the north entrance off 56th Street and Underwood Avenue) is one of Omaha’s go-to sledding hills. Alternatively, visit Spring Lake Park in South Omaha and see which of your friends can make it to the bottom of the hill first. If there isn’t enough snow outside for sledding, race down hills of man-made snow at Clemmons Park in Fremont.

Loess Hills Snowshoeing
27792 Ski Hill Loop
Honey Creek, Iowa

Stop by Hitchcock Nature Center with your snowshoes and engage in one of winter’s more tranquil outdoor activities. Hitchcock Nature Center consists of 1,268 acres with a trail running through the Loess Hills. Walk through freshly fallen snow and take in the winter wonderland scenery. Register online for winter snowshoe hikes led by Pottawattamie Conservation staff (snowshoe rental included with $5 admission).

Cross-Country Skiing

Did someone say cross-country skiing in Omaha? You don’t have to travel outside of the city to hone your skiing skills. Test your endurance at Elmwood Park’s golf course (situated nearby the UNO Outdoor Venture Center, if you need rental gear). Try cross-country skiing on the 770 acres of Zorinsky Lake Park, or venture out to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park for some of the best snow-covered trails in Omaha area.

This article was printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Stalking Stocked Rainbow Trout

December 27, 2016 by
Photography by Doug Meigs and Bill Sitzmann

When the weather gets cold in Nebraska, make room in your kitchen for rainbow trout. Catch them from the shore before the lakes freeze over, and catch them through a hole in the ice (once a safe layer of ice has formed).

ice-fishing-2Many anglers will catch their limit in less than an hour. When the bite is hot, parents will be pulling fish off of children’s hooks faster than they can drop a line into the water. Daryl Bauer, a fisheries biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission since 1988, says there’s plenty of trout to catch in select Nebraska waters throughout the winter.

Bauer’s words were proven true by the crowds of anglers lining the banks at Standing Bear Lake this past fall. The number of anglers reeling in trout was almost as incredible as the number of darting and jumping trout visible from shore.

Game and Parks generously stocked rainbow trout in Standing Bear Lake, Benson Park Pond, Century Link Lake at Mahoney State Park, Lake Halleck, Hitchcock Park Pond, and Towl Park Pond. The commission intended to stock 265,000 trout statewide this fall and winter.

The trout are stocked from the Grove Lake Trout Rearing Station in Royal, Nebraska, where they are hatched and fed a specially formulated feed. Bauer says the feed is “not just junk food. It produces quality meat. These are quality fish.” The trout are raised until they reach about 10 inches in length, at which time they are ready to be stocked and caught. Bauer says it takes about 10 months to produce trout of this quality. When all is said and done, it costs about $1 to raise each trout. Funds come, in part, from fishing licenses. So, if you are licensed, you’re paying for trout.


Catch them while you can, because Game and Parks does not intend for them to last after the winter. Bauer says trout are cold-water fish. He says Standing Bear will not be cold enough for the trout to survive in the summer. “If there’s any [trout] surviving in the summer, they will perish.” Bauer says that almost all of the trout are caught, and studies of tagged fish at Standing Bear show that 85 percent or more of the trout are being harvested before the water warms up.

Catching trout from the shore and through the ice is simple. Bauer tells anglers to keep in mind that these fish have been raised in a hatchery their whole life. “Their idea of finding feed is swimming around and waiting for someone to drop pellets on their heads,” he says. Bauer says that varieties of Berkeley PowerBait “smell an awful lot like the pellets the trout are reared on.”

A spinning reel with 6- to 8-pound test line is ideal, and the same rig can be used for both shore and ice fishing if you don’t have ice fishing gear. Bauer says his grandpa used his open-water rod through a hole and pulled fish through the ice. “You just have to stand a little further from the hole,” Bauer says.

Visit outdoornebraska.gov for more information. OmahaHome