The Lake

Merritt's Reservoir is an 11 mile long, 2906 surface acre irrigation impoundment with 44 miles of shoreline.  Its pure waters maintain an outstanding forage base that has promoted Merritt to become of one the top trophy fisheries.  It is thought that 90% of Merritt's water holds fish - the exact opposite of most bodies of water.


Size & Depth - 3,000 acres at a conservation pool elevation of 2,946 feet above mean sea level.  Maximum depth is 111 feet with an average depth of 25 feet.   Water levels are stable, except during summer irrigation season when they drop.

Water Source - An impoundment of the Snake River completed in 1964 by the Bureau of Reclamation.  Boardman Creek is the only significant tributary.   Primary water uses are irrigation and recreation.

Water - Fertile with varying clarity.  Heavy summer algae blooms greatly reduce clarity, but Secchi disk readings of 6 feet have been recorded in spring.   Merritt is considered rather clear compared to other Nebraska impoundment's.

Shoreline - Sporadically timbered rolling hills surround much of the 44 miles of shoreline.  Bottom composition is 98% sand, as is the bulk of the shore.   Erosion and siltation occur. 

Cover - Weed growth develops in various coves and shallows from late spring until the summer drawdown.  Areas of submerged timber remaining from pre-impoundment years provide good habitat for fish.  A local organization constructs tire-reefs that attract fish each summer. The local Fire Department has an on-going habitat improvement program using discarded Christmas trees.

Fishery Profile

Featured Species - Walleye.

Secondary Species - Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Muskellunge, White Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Yellow Perch, Black Bullhead (in other words you name it and we got it).

Comment - "Best walleye lake in the state," according to the local fish manager.  Merritt supports a fine walleye population known for producing quality-size fish.  Walleye are clearly the most popular fish with anglers, as nearly half of the total angling effort is targeted at this species.  Annual stocking of walleye fingerling augments natural reproduction.

Forage - Alewife, juvenile panfish and various minnows.

What's in a name?

Ever wondered how Merritt got its name?  Well we did, so we did a little research and came up with the following information:  Merritt Dam is named for J.M. Merritt, who had a long career with Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission.  Merritt was the Superintendent of the Valentine Fish Hatchery for three years, and was a resident of the Valentine area between 1923 and 1933.  Merritt Dam was dedicated on October 10, 1964.

Here's some more trivia-Nebraska is derived from the Omaha Indian word Nibthaska, which means "flat water."  The name was given to the Platte River because it is broad and shallow.

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Merritt Trading Post Resort

88337 State Hwy 97
Valentine, NE 69201
Trading Post (402) 376-3437
Water'sEdge Restaurant (402) 376-1878

Fax (402) 376-5934