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2016 Valentine Chamber Of Commerce CorK Thornton memorial Ice Fishing Tournament

This years Valentine Chamber tournament was held on the twelve inches of ice on Alkali Lake south of Valentine, NE. with thirty teams hitting the ice during excellent weather conditions.  This was a catch and release tournament with the length being converted to pounds. A total of one hundred-twenty four fish were weighed and releases.

Coming out on top was the team of Don Cox, Mullen, NE and Dave Fehlhafer, Donopin, NE. with 17 crappies 9″ t 12″ that weighed 13.5 pounds and a 20″ catfish at 3 pounds, 25″ pike at 4.4 pounds for a total weight of 20.9 pounds. In second was the team of Jim & Chris Elliott, Valentine, NE. with the largest fish of the tournament, a 12.2 pound pike and a total weight of 18.6 pounds. In third place with 18.3 pounds,was the defending champions team  of Dan Priel, Cambridge, NE. and Kent Priel, North Platte, NE. Merritt Tourney


Rounding out the top ten teams were:

4th Place   Marcus Dryak & Stan Dryak, Niobrara, NE.                  16.2 pounds

5th Place  Nick Larsen, Valentine, NE. & Jay Elliot, Omaha, NE.  14.4 pounds

6th Place  Brenton lammers, Lincoln, NE. & Alex Rohde, Laurel, NE.


In the Heart of the Sandhills, Valentine, NE. By Gary Howey

Our destination, Valentine, Nebraska, located in north central Nebraska in the part of the state known as the Sandhills, a picturesque part of the state where seven different ecosystems come together.

When most folks think of Valentine, they think about the excellent canoeing and tubing down the Niobrara River. Among the other attractions and outdoor opportunities found in the Valentine area, include several waterfalls, including; Nebraska’s tallest waterfall, Smith falls and the Snake River falls. Other attractions all located within a short, drive from Valentine, include the McKelvie National Forest, the Valentine National Migratory Bird Refuge, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife and Valentine State Fish Hatchery.

On this trip, we visit another of the excellent vacation and fishing destinations in the area,  as we will be fishing and filming on Merritt Reservoir with Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Steve Isom of Valentine.

Merritt Reservoir, a three thousand acre reservoir is located twenty-six miles southwest of Valentine; the reservoir holds excellent populations of walleye, smallmouth bass, crappies, and channel catfish and is one of the few lakes in Nebraska with Muskie.

Several Nebraska State record fish have come from these waters including the state record Channel Catfish. I n 1985 a thirty-nine inch fish tipping the scales at 41 lbs. 8 ounces came from these waters, the following year the record was tied when another big catfish, also weighing 41 lbs. 8 ounce fish was taken from the reservoir.

Merritt is also the home of the Nebraska record Muskellunge (Muskie), the state record fish came from the reservoir in 1992, the a fifty-two inch fish weighed in at 41 pounds 8 ounces. [Read more…]


Weather puts damper on Merritt walleyes By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.
VALENTINE, Neb. | Heavy clouds wrapped themselves around the Sandhills landscape as Steve Isom guided his boat along the face of Merritt Reservoir dam.

It was 5:30 a.m. and Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., and I stood in the back of the boat hurling shallow diving crankbaits hoping that one of the fat walleyes for which Merritt is known would latch on.

Alewives, the primary forage base for the walleyes, were there in high numbers. We could see them on the depth finder and occasionally one of us would snag one of them. They were running five to seven inches long, and were so thick all a walleye would have to do is open his mouth and one would swim in.

But the walleyes were not interested in opening their mouths. A week earlier, Steve, who lives in Valentine, a mere 35 miles to the north, had taken some people out and they limited here with the biggest fish hitting 9-and-a-half pounds. [Read more…]