Kids playing in Lake McConaughy
Lake McConaughy is a destination for those looking to enjoy some fun in the water. (Courtesy photo)

For more than 125 years, Ogallala has ranked among the state’s top tourism communities.
The gem that draws most visitors to Keith County is Lake McConaughy. The lake was formed by damming the North Platte River, which starts in Colorado and comes to western Nebraska via Wyoming. The lake boasts 100 miles of shoreline of white sand beaches and 30,000 surface of clear blue waters and some of the best walleye fishing in the nation.

Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala rank high on the list for bird watching in the nation. More than 320 species of birds have been identified on or near their shores.

Interactive displays at the Lake McConaughy Visitor and Water Interpretive Center explain the benefits of the Platte River and the High Plains Aquifer. The Visitor Center, located at 1475 NE Hwy 61, is about eight miles north of Ogallala and is open year-round. Summer hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, while winter hours are shortened to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

During the spring, walleye spawn at Lake McConaughy. Anglers target walleye and wipers using live bait or casting jigs. From May to August, its white bass, small and large bass hit on casting jigs or lures. Yellow perch can be caught all summer throughout the lake on worms and wax worms.

Whether you are fishing from the bank or off a boat, anglers can catch northern pike, rainbow trout, brown trout, and tiger trout at the neighboring Lake Ogallala. Catfish can be caught year-round.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds boaters to take care to avoid transporting aquatic nuisance species such as zebra mussels by making sure to clean, drain and dry their watercraft before launching at either lake. Nebraska law also requires any person born after Dec. 31, 1985, to complete a boater safety course and have proof of completion with them in order to operate any motorboat, including personal watercraft.
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