WAHOO – It’s a busy time of year for Lake Wanahoo Recreation Supervisor Bret Schomer.
After a tumultuous spring led to historic flooding throughout the entire state, things are slowly getting back to normal at the lake located a mile and a half north of Wahoo.
“It was a slow start with the spring that we had, but starting in late May things have really picked up,” Schomer said.
Cold temperatures and persistent rain through the middle of May kept anglers and campers away, but Schomer said that the month of June has seen an increase in fishing and camping activity.
“We have been pretty much full the last three weekends,” Schomer stated.
Anyone traveling along the bypass in June has been able to see the activity on the west side of the lake where there are 74 camper pads and 60 tent camping sites.
The parking lot on the west side of the lake near the boat dock has been completely full the last three weekends according to Schomer with vehicle parking spilling over onto the grass.
Many of the people parking in the grass brought fishing poles.
Nebraska Game and Parks Biologist Daryl Bauer said that fishing is good at Wanahoo.
“Guys are catching fish and part of the reason for that is that the weather is cooperating,” said Bauer.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Fisheries Department cast nets in the early spring for a fish sampling at Wanahoo and Bauer said that they were pleased with the number of pike they were able to record.
“Wanahoo remains a very strong fishery. No question,” said Bauer.
While NGPC manages the fishery, the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District is in charge of the grounds around the lake.
“Our relationship with Game and Parks remains strong. We are where we are today because of them,” said NRD General Manager Eric Gottschalk.
Beginning on Jan. 1, the Natural Resources District took over the management of the recreation area and Gottschalk feels that being a quarter of a mile away allows the district a number of advantages.
“I think the biggest thing will be an increase in community ownership of the late. I think seeing kids from Bishop Neumann or Wahoo High School working out here is really important for the community to take ownership,” added Gottschalk.
While the west side of the lake sees the most activity, Schomer and Gottschalk feel that the east side has tremendous potential.
A dumping station was added to the east side of the lake in 2017 and is located on the east side of the lake as well as a new Education Building and extensive playground area.
The Education building is still under construction with completion set for Sept. 1.
“We were hoping to finish it by May 1, but with the weather it just made it tough,” Gottschalk added
The building is currently being utilized by the Kids Summer Institute and when completed will feature a full kitchen, a covered patio, Wi-
Fi and will be ADA accessible.
It will also be made available for rent for large gatherings at the lake.
Like the education building, work also continues on Pork Chop Island north of the breakwater.
The island is cut off from the east and west sides of the lake and is surrounded by water. Access is gained only by a boat or a kayak.
A boat dock has been added and five primitive camp sites will be available on the island for those looking for a ‘pack in and pack out experience’.
According to Gottschalk camping will available in a couple of weeks.
“It’s really unique and there is nothing like it in our region. It’s just another option for outdoor enthusiasts,” Gottschalk added.
The breakwater connecting the east and west side of the lake suffered extensive flood damage in March and was closed until the first
week of June.
Collins Construction came in and made $52,000 in repairs to the breakwater after the March flood event.
Gottschalk said the 87.5 percent of the money spent on repairing the breakwater will be reimbursed through aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and funding from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
“People don’t really understand how much that breakwater gets used. Hikers, bikers, fisherman, there are just a lot of people who utilize that,” said Gottschalk.
The breakwater is where the fireworks will be ignited next week as the annual Wahoo 4th of July celebration will be held at the Lake Wanahoo for the first time in the lakes seven-year history.
“We are really excited about having the fourth of July out here. I think it is going to be great,” Gottschalk added.
Entry to the day-use (east) side of the lake will be free on the Fourth of July.