Watts Lake is one of nine lakes on Valentine National Wildlife Refuge that is open to fishing. Last year, working with Nebraska Game and Parks, we were able to purchase a 60 foot rolling dock for the west boat ramp on the lake. This spring a cement boat ramp will replace the rock ramp. The dock and improved ramp will make it more convenient for landing and launching boats on this popular fishing lake. People will also be able to fish from the dock.
This year Watts Lake is also schedule for a lake renovation to remove carp. During the drought of 2012 the lake reached record low levels and a partial fish kill occurred. Large numbers of bass, bluegill, and perch were found dead along the shoreline. Fishing has been poor here since. The plan is to lower the lake this spring and summer, pump additional water out of the lake in the fall, and then treat the remaining water with rotenone, a fish toxicant. When the lake refills, it will be stocked with sport fish. It will take a few years for the fish to reach catchable size. Past experience has shown that renovated lakes can produce some fantastic fishing when the carp are removed from the system.
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The 72,000 acre Valentine National Wildlife Refuge lies in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills, a vast area of grass blanketed sand dunes, which flow across north-central Nebraska. Lakes and marshes in the valleys and prairie grasses in the hills and meadows provide habitat for many kinds of wildlife like the prairie chicken.