North Platte National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region

Fish List

Yellow Perch

The yellow perch is very colorful. The body is yellowish-gold with 6 to 9 black crossbars that run vertically down each side. The lower fins are brightly colored orange with white tips. Perch usually spawn shortly after ice-out in the spring. The maximum size about 14 inches. Perch are very predacious, preferring a diet of minnows; however, they will eat aquatic insects, crayfish, leeches, and snails. These fish are easily caught using a bobber with worms or minnows. Best fishing is in the spring or winter through the ice.

Drawing of a yellow perch


The largest member of the perch family, walleye will sometimes weigh over 10 pounds. They are easily identified by their creamy white color with black markings on the sides and fins. They also have a pronounced white spot on the tip of the tail. There is very little natural reproduction of walleye in Winters Creek Lake, so they are stocked annually. Walleye are very predacious, feeding on all types of small fish, crayfish, and aquatic insects. Fishing for walleye is best in the evening or early morning. Many methods are good - using a jig and minnow, worm harness, small spinner trolling, or fishing through the ice with minnow.

Drawing of a walleye

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is one of the largest members of the sunfish family, capable of reaching weights of more than 8 pounds. They can be identified by their dark green color with a black strip running horizontally across each side and their extremely large mouth. Spawning occurs in early June when the male builds a nest for the female to deposit her eggs. Growth is fairly slow - it usually takes 5 to 6 years to reach the legal harvest size of 15 inches. These fish can be caught by a variety of methods, but by far the most popular is fishing the shoreline with top-water lures.

Drawing of a largemouth bass


A smaller member of the sunfish family, bluegill take approximately 8 years to reach one pound. Coloration varies with age and sex. Most bluegill bodies are light blue to olive green. The breast may be dull yellow in females to bright orange in breeding males. All, however, have a dark blue “ear” on the opercle. Bluegill build nests for spawning in June and usually nest in colonies with dozens of nests in each colony. Fish travel in schools, so if you catch one there is a good chance you can catch more in the same area. Best method is a worm or a grub on a small hook using a small bobber.

Drawing of a bluegill

Channel Catfish

If you land a fish here and it lacks scales, it's a catfish! Other characteristics include slate gray skin, deeply forked tail, and long barbels or “whiskers” on the lower jaw. Young fish may also have black spots. Although these fish grow fairly slowly, they also live a long time. Some fish have been known to live longer than 20 years and grow to more than 40 pounds! No natural reproduction occurs in Winters Creek Lake, so this species is stocked annually. Many methods are used to catch the channel catfish, but one of the best is to anchor in a deep area and fish on the bottom using “stink” bait such as chicken gizzards or livers, dead minnows, or prepared commercial bait. Best fishing is in the summer when the water is warm.

Drawing of a channel catfish

Last updated: March 21, 2011