Calamus Reservoir, Nebraska, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Calamus Reservoir.

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Calamus Reservoir visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Nebraska - Sandhills -

Located in central Nebraska, the Calamus Reservoir is a wonderful place to relax, appreciate the beauty of nature, and enjoy some fun on the water. The reservoir was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation by constructing a dam across the Calamus River. The dam, which was completed in 1986, was originally called the Calamus Dam, but the name was changed to Virginia Smith Dam in honor of Virginia Dodd Smith, one of Nebraska’s state representatives. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1991 and worked hard to make positive changes for her state. The operation of Virginia Smith Dam is controlled by the Twin Loups Reclamation and Irrigation District. The 5,124-acre Calamus Reservoir is used for irrigation, causing the level of the lake to fluctuate as the lake’s water is distributed to the surrounding area.

Calamus Reservoir is a great place to enjoy many types of outdoor recreation. It’s a popular lake for fishing, with a variety of fishing tournaments held there each year. Some of the species of fish that can be caught in the lake include bass, channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, perch, and wipers. Calamus State Fish Hatchery is below the dam, and those interested in learning about fish production can take a tour of the hatchery. It is operated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and produces millions of trout, muskie, walleye, and other fish species each year.

Many different water sports can be enjoyed on Calamus Reservoir. It is a great place for boaters; there are several boat ramps from which to gain access to the lake, and all types of boats are permitted. However, the upper part of the lake is restricted to boats going less than five miles per hour. Some of the many ways to enjoy the pleasures of Calamus Reservoir are by gliding through the water on a sailboat, or splashing through the waves on water skiis. Windsurfers also enjoy this lake, and the “Windsurfing Rodeo” is an exciting surfing event held on Calamus Reservoir each year.

Calamus Reservoir is part of the 11,720-acre Calamus State Recreation Area. The recreation area is well set up to accommodate all who want to stay and enjoy the area, with a visitor center and a variety of camp sites, both modern and primitive. There are also many other amenities available – picnic tables for a relaxing outdoor meal, ramps for boaters to use, and sandy beaches for a refreshing swim.

Those who appreciate nature will find much to love about Calamus Reservoir and the surrounding area. Hiking and birdwatching are two of the activities enjoyed in the area. Birdwatchers will enjoy keeping their eyes peeled for the many different species of birds that make their home on and around the lake. Some of the birds in the area include pelicans, herons, and cormorants; other birds such as prairie chickens and grouse are also common. And wintertime brings the chance of seeing a majestic bald eagle gliding over the lake.

Tucked in the heart of this Midwestern state, Calamus Reservoir is the perfect place to stop and enjoy some fun in the great outdoors.

Custom Calamus Reservoir house decor

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Things to do at Calamus Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Birding

Fish species found at Calamus Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Calamus Reservoir

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Calamus Reservoir photo gallery

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Calamus Reservoir statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Twin Loups Reclamation and Irrigation District

Surface Area: 5,124 acres

Shoreline Length: 31 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,244 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 2,253 feet

Average Depth: 25 feet

Water Volume: 127,400 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1962

Drainage Area: 147 sq. miles

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