Anglers at both ends of the state will benefit from improved fisheries after the recent completion of two Aquatic Habitat Projects at Nebraska state parks.

Fort Robinson State Park and Summit Reservoir State Recreation Area both saw work to improve water quality and access.

In the west, the North Grable Pond at Fort Robinson was deepened, an outlet structure replaced, and a kayak launch installed. 

A covered fishing pier and in-lake fish habitat structures also were built within casting distance of the pier; anglers will benefit from this enhanced shoreline access.

This project complements previous lake renovations at the park, including at the South Grable, Middle Grable, Ice House and Cherry Creek ponds.

In the northeast, sediment was removed from the water quality basins at both inlets into Summit Lake. These basins were added during a previous Aquatic Habitat Project 20 years ago at the lake but require maintenance and upkeep to protect the main lake.

Gravel fish-habitat structures also were placed along the shoreline, a kayak launch installed, and maintenance completed on the boat ramp and fishing jetties. 

Summit Lake is a 190-acre lake with bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie and walleye. Current drought conditions combined with the recent renovation means the lake level is currently low. Boaters are encouraged to cautious when launching boats.

Anglers at Fort Robinson will find good fishing at the renovated ponds that include cold- and warm-water fish, including smallmouth bass, rock bass, bluegills, channel catfish, crappie, yellow perch, and three of the four Trout Slam species. Those hoping to complete the Trout Slam can fish for brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout at ponds there, and brown trout reside in streams nearby. Discover how to participate at

For more information about individual water bodies, read the Nebraska Fishing Guide at

Funding for both of these projects was provided by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Aquatic Habitat and Angler Access Fund and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration.

The Aquatic Habitat Program turned 25 in 2022. Funded by anglers, it was the first of its kind in the nation when implemented. The program works to enhance aquatic ecosystems by implementing restoration techniques in-lake and in the watersheds that feed them. In addition to improving aquatic habitat and water quality, the program also works vigorously to improve boat and bank angler access at Nebraska waterbodies.

Learn more about the Aquatic Habitat Program at

Emergency boat ramp repairs underway at Sherman Reservoir

The Marina Bay boat ramp at Sherman Reservoir near Loup City will be closed starting at 7 a.m. Sept. 19 until further notice so immediate repairs can be made.

Low water levels in the reservoir have exposed a significant settlement of the east lane, which has caused a nearly 5-inch lip to occur on the ramp. On the west lane, the ramp has cracked and needs immediate repair during this low water period.

Work is expected to take one week, with the ramps closed a minimum of an additional two weeks for the concrete to cure.

Boaters may use the Tradewinds Marina ramp to access the lake; all other ramps are closed at this time.

Farwell Irrigation District, who owns and operates the dam at Sherman Reservoir, is partnering on this project by reducing water inflows enough to allow repairs to be made before the ramp becomes submerged again.

Questions can be directed to [email protected]

Calamus Reservoir boat access limited

Extremely low water levels and underwater hazards have limited access to the lake and challenged boaters at Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area near Burwell.

Several ramps have closed or have restrictions due to low water and underwater sand movement. The reservoir currently is at 41% capacity, which is the second lowest level on record.

These conditions, in addition to wave action and power loading of boats onto trailers, have led to a large sand ridge forming in front of the Homestead Knolls boat ramp, on the northeast side of the lake.

On Sept. 19, Nebraska Game and Parks will begin removing the sand here to improve boater access to the reservoir.

“This is the lowest I have ever seen Calamus Reservoir, dating back to 2014,” said Tommy Hicks, North Central regional superintendent. The lowest level on record was reached during the drought of 2012, when the reservoir was at 31% capacity.

Hicks said the Twin Loups Irrigation District is at the end of its irrigation season and will stop releasing water into the canal system on Sept. 19. He expects reservoir levels to start rising by the end of the month.

Park visitors are asked to be cautious of underwater hazards as they utilize the lake.

For further updates, contact the Calamus park office at 308-346-5666.

Merritt Reservoir SRA certified as International Dark Sky Park

Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, renowned for its Sandhills location providing spectacular astronomical views, has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park.

Merritt has hosted the annual Nebraska Star Party each summer for 29 years, when professional and amateur astronomers converge to take advantage of a sky free of light pollution.

Merritt is the first Nebraska site certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. The IDA is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide.

“This is an exciting first for our state,” said Executive Director of Nebraska Tourism John Ricks. “The Dark Sky Park will attract people to experience the awe and splendor of our night skies, adding yet another excellent, unique experience to visiting Nebraska.”

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Director Tim McCoy added, “We’re thrilled and honored to have Merritt Reservoir be given this prestigious distinction. It’s another great reason to visit this well-known park.”

The IDA’s International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education. The program has five types of designations: International Dark Sky Communities, International Dark Sky Parks, International Dark Sky Reserves, International Dark Sky Sanctuaries and Urban Night Sky Places.

International Dark Sky Parks are parks that are publicly- or privately-owned spaces protected for natural conservation that implement good outdoor lighting and provide dark sky programs for visitors.

Merritt, a 9,000-acre park southwest of Valentine in Cherry County, already is known for its excellent fishing, boating and camping opportunities.

Nebraska Tourism and the Nebraska Game and Parks partnered to earn the international designation.

Learn more about Merritt Reservoir SRA at A park entry permit is required of each vehicle entering the park.

For more information about the IDA, visit For more information on Nebraska Tourism, visit