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Free Fishing and Park Entry Day is May 18

Free Fishing and Park Entry Day in Nebraska is May 18. Enjoy a Saturday of fishing or state park activities without the need to purchase a fishing or park entry permit for the day.

Free Fishing and Park Entry Day, held annually in Nebraska on the Saturday preceding Memorial Day weekend, means anyone can explore outdoor opportunities at any Nebraska state park, state recreation area or state historical park. Anglers must observe all fishing regulations. Camping, lodging and all other user fees still apply at state park areas. Entrance fees for museums at state historical parks and the entrance fee at the Schramm Education Center remain in effect.

Several family-friendly activities are scheduled in state park areas across the state to celebrate Free Fishing and Park Entry Day. Some of them include:

Fort Robinson State Park

A Kids’ Fishing Derby is set for 9-11 a.m. for ages 12 and under at Grable Ponds. A barbecue will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the west lawn of the lodge. The cost is $11. Park guests can also enjoy free horse-drawn historical tours and Jeep rides.

Platte River State Park and Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

A Beginner Fishing Program will be held from 9-noon at Platte River State Park’s Owen Landing and Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s CenturyLink Lake.

Join the parks’ naturalists and Youth Fishing Instructors at the lake to give fishing a try. Bait a hook, cast a line and catch a fish. All equipment will be provided.

Schramm Park State Recreation Area

Explore the Pollinator Garden at Schramm Park State Recreation Area from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. with Nebraska Master Gardeners and ask them about spring planting and more. Naturalists will have plant-related activities for kids. Meet in the birding area by Schramm Education Center.

Ponca State Park

Ponca will host the Bill Morris Fishing Derby for anglers of all ages at 8 a.m. Prizes will be awarded for the longest bluegill, largemouth bass and rainbow trout in three age groups.

Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area

Lake No. 16 will host the Bob Bruner Memorial Fishing Derby from 9 a.m. to noon. There also will be food, other activities and prizes. Loaner fishing tackle, bait and instruction will be available.

Lake Cunningham

Celebrate family, friends and fun at Fish Fest at the C from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Lake Cunningham in Omaha.

This free event, co-hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks and the City of Omaha, is for anglers of all experience levels. Attendees can enter to win prizes. Food and refreshments will be provided while supplies last.

Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area

The park will have a bird outing at 9 a.m., followed by a Wildflower Walk at 10 a.m. and Critter Corner at 11 a.m.

Ash Hollow State Historical Park

Ash Hollow is hosting a Kids’ Fishing Day in which children aged 16 and younger are invited to fish the park’s pond and keep what they catch. A limited number of loaner fishing poles are available. A hot dog lunch will be served from 1-3 p.m. Pets on leashes are welcome.

Fort Kearny State Recreation Area

Join the fun at Fort Kearny SRA from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where the Family Fishing Trailer and several certified youth fishing instructors will be on hand. A limited number of fishing poles will be available to borrow, along with free bait.

Visit for more information. Get more information on parks at

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at or 402-471-5008.

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