Home / News / Joe's Fishing Hole: Navigating stream waters

Joe's Fishing Hole: Navigating stream waters

Apr 26, 2023Apr 26, 2023

Hank and Hazel Dotson show off a nice largemouth bass that Hazel caught last Sunday while fishing at the Spring Creek Marina. Fishing has been fair to good for bass, trout and panfish at the Marina which is open to fishing for Spring Creek Association residents.

With the well above average snowfall that Nevada received this winter, flows continue to be well above average for this time of year making stream fishing difficult. Difficult, but not impossible.

First and foremost, when fishing our small streams at these very high flows, safety is the main concern. Even though our flows are still well below what many rivers in the west flow at, they have moved beyond the high water mark covering shrubs, willows and other obstacles that can entangle feet. This means do not wade the rivers when they are like this. In other words, stay out of the water.

With high flows, fish look for areas of the stream that require less energy to stay in one place and protection from debris flowing down the stream. This includes natural eddies along the banks and large obstacles such as rocks or stumps along the stream banks that interrupt the flow. These generally are easily reached for shore anglers.

Another place in the stream that fish will hold is right on the bottom, where the drag from the bottom makes for slower water. With the heavier flows and faster water, it is more difficult to get your presentation down into the water column, so use extra weight. Extra split shot placed a foot above your fly or lure can help get it down a bit further into the water where the fish may be holding.

Along with extra weight, this is the time of year to go big. Forget those very small spinners and flies that are used during much of the rest of the year. Step up the size that make it easier for the fish to identify it as food.

Instead of nymphs fly fishermen may want to go to larger darker streamers such as beadhead wooly buggers and bunny leeches. If fishing nymphs, go larger, size 8 to 14 with beads and wire to help get them down. A copper John is a great fly for this.

Because you are fishing the edges of very high flows, the lures, bait and flies will be encountering more obstacles, which means you will probably be losing more of them than normal. Make sure to have plenty of whatever you are fishing with so that you don't have to leave early.

Finally, be selective in the water you are fishing. The fish will be holding either close to shore, in eddies, slack water and near the bottom. Knowing this, only fish these areas. As a general rule fish from shore out about four or five feet and near the bottom. Look for the foam lines that are generated where the flows change from fast to slow and fish from the foam line in to shore.

Saturday, June 10, is free fishing day in Nevada. This means no fishing license is required though all fishing regulations and limits still apply. The Nevada Department of Wildlife will be hosting family friendly fishing events in eastern Nevada at Carlin and Ely.

The Carlin event will be at the Chinese Gardens on the west side of Carlin from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and the first 60 children under 18 to show up will receive a free fishing rod and there will be staff and volunteers available to help those new to fishing.

In Ely, the event will be held at Comins Lake on the Steptoe Valley Wildlife Management Area also from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The first 60 youth under 18 will also receive a free fishing rod and again, there will be staff and volunteers to help those new to the sport.

WILDHORSE Very little change here as the lake is full and spilling. Heavy snowmelt flows into the lake continue to keep the water murky and fishing is slow. The area received rainfall late this week contributing to the heavy flows into the lake. Hopefully flows will start to slow down as we get further into June. As you get more towards the middle of the lake and the south and north ends the water does start to clear up. Look for the coves that are closest to the canyon by the dam and the furthest from the inflows of Hot Creek, Penrod and Hendricks Arms where the water is flowing into the lake. Anglers have had a little luck first thing in the morning before the winds begin to pick up. Fly rodders have landed a few fish stripping buggers and leech patterns which provide some turbulence to attract the fish. Balanced leeches and chironomid patterns under an indicator may also work where the water is clearer. Presentations for those throwing hardware include attractor patterns such as spinners, rooster tails, spoons, Rapalas or panther Martins. Darker colors for both fly and spin fishermen seem to be working better. Worms or PowerBait fished around three feet under a bobber are catching a few fish for bait anglers where the water is clearer though active presentations are producing more fish where the water is muddy. No black bass may be kept until July 1. There is about 3 cfs of water spilling at this time, though the river picks up water from the tributaries as you go downstream. The first two miles below the dam are fishable and fishermen report fair to good fishing there. Wildhorse Reservoir was stocked with approximately 16,000 catfish and 500 wipers this week.

SOUTH FORK RESERVOIR The lake level hasn't changed much as they continue to let water out of the dam as there is still a lot of snow in the basin that melts into South Fork. If there was a wet system that came through on top of the snow, there needs to be enough room in the reservoir to capture water to minimize flooding downstream. That being said, if the flow was shut off, it would fill in a week to 10 days at the rate the water is flowing in now. Anglers should also stay far away from the spillway as there is a lot of water going through it and the current there is very strong. Fishing has picked up in the lake and anglers were catching 14- to 18-inch trout both from shore and boats. Bass fishing is also fair to good though it is catch and release only for bass right now. Male bass have moved into the flats along shorelines preparing spawning beds holding on the beds as the females come in to lay their eggs. While it is okay to fish for bass, all black bass must be released until July 1. Both lipped and lipless crankbaits have produced bass as well as soft plastics. For fly fishermen targeting trout, buggers, leeches and balanced leeches are working in the more turbid water while chironomids, balanced leeches and other nymphs are working in the clear water found further north in the lake and the coves. For spin fishermen, still fishing worms in the stained water conditions is not very effective, so they should be throwing spinners and small lures with a slow retrieve to attract the fish. With the discolored water dark colors that provide a good silhouette seem to be working the best. The clearer water at the north end of the lake is more conducive to bait fishing using worms or PowerBait. South Fork Reservoir was stocked with 16,000 catfish and 500 wipers earlier this week.

WILSON RESERVOIR Little change here. The lake is spilling, though with all the snowmelt is turbid and fishing is slow to fair for trout. Expect these conditions to continue as long as there are high flows coming into the lake from the above average snow pack. Spin anglers should be using rooster tails, spinners, Rapalas and Kastmasters in flashy or very dark colors. For fly fishermen, large flies like wooly buggers and leech patterns are the best bet. A few bass are being taken with crankbaits. The road is in fairly good shape going out though there is wash boarding in spots. Wilson was stocked with approximately 15,000 fish two weeks ago.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR Willow Creek Reservoir is 90% full after being emptied due to dam repairs and the drought. While there probably are few if any catchable sized fish in the reservoir, it was stocked with approximately 4,000 four to six inch catfish were stocked here this week. NDOW has plans to plant crappie and bass from other waters when water conditions allow.

RUBY LAKE NWR Harrison Pass is open and the road is in fairly good shape. However, there is standing water in many areas along the dikes and access roads to the collection ditch so care must be taken when driving. Surface water temperatures in the south marsh have moved into the 60s with good fishing for bass in unit 21 and off Brown Dike. Access to the collection ditch is good. This should be a good year for bass in the south marsh and for fishing for trout in the collection ditch and spring ponds. Fishing in the collection ditch and spring ponds has been good with recent stocking as well as nice carry over trout from last fall. Water clarity is improving. Fly anglers have had luck stripping wooly buggers, leeches or small streamers. Chironomids, pheasant tail nymphs and gold ribbed hares ear nymphs have also been working. Damselflies and Mayflies should start coming off soon, so damsel nymphs, dries and Mayfly dries may also be part of your arsenal. Spin fishermen should be using spinners, Kastmasters, panther Martins and other small lures. It is artificial presentations only in the collection ditch.

JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIR The reservoir is full and anglers report catching trout up to 17 inches along with some bass and a few catfish. Use the same flies, lures and presentations as at South Fork Reservoir. Aquatic vegetation is starting to grow along the shorelines but shore fishing is still accessible in many areas. Jakes Creek was stocked with approximately 3,000 fish two weeks ago.

COLD CREEK RESERVOIR Cold Creek received its spring allotment of 2,050 Rainbow Trout averaging 8.5 inches and 1,517 Tiger Trout averaging 9 inches. Anglers can expect to catch 8-to-10-inch Rainbow Trout and 8-to-10-inch Tiger Trout. The Largemouth Bass population at Cold Creek Reservoir is small and recovering from recent reservoir drawdowns. Although harvest is still allowed, anglers are encouraged to catch and release bass caught until their population is well established in the lake.

CAVE LAKE Cave Lake is lowered to minimum pool and unfishable. Cave Lake is closed to fishing due to shorelines that are very soft and dangerous due to the complete saturation of the soil. Dam construction is fully underway. Fish stocking will resume once the construction is completed and the lake starts to fill. For more information on Cave Lake, please contact the NDOW Ely Field Office.

COMINS LAKE Fishing is slowly picking up but continues to be slow compared to most years. The water continues to be a tea-stained color from the release of tannins due to the rehydration of the vegetation surrounding the lake. Surface water temperatures are in the low 60s and Largemouth Bass have been staging for the last two weeks. Despite slower catch rates anglers can still expect to catch 14-to-18-inch Rainbow Trout and the occasional Brown Trout and possibly a Tiger Trout. A total of 8,539 Rainbow Trout were stocked this spring averaging 9 inches. Largemouth Bass in the 10-to-13-inch range have been caught using active presentations. Crankbaits seem to be working well. Post-spawn Northern Pike are beginning to be more active in recent weeks. Anglers are encouraged to target Northern Pike while they are fishing. Please note that NDOW has placed radio tags in several Northern Pike. These pike will have an orange Floy tag near their dorsal fin and a small antenna (~ 7 inches long) coming from their stomach. Please return these fish to the water for research purposes. All other pike should be humanely dispatched. There is no limit on the pike.

ILLIPAH Illipah Reservoir is near 90% capacity. Water clarity has improved, and water temperatures are sitting between 58 and 60 degrees. A total of 8,031 Rainbow Trout averaging 9 inches were stocked into the reservoir this spring. Anglers can expect to catch 8-to-10-inch Rainbow Trout with the occasional carryover trout up to 16 inches. A variety of night crawlers, PowerBait, and spinners should produce trout for anglers. Fly rodders have had success with bugger and leech patterns and chironomid fishing is picking up with the improvement in water clarity. The road into Illipah Reservoir does have some minor ruts but otherwise access is good.

ANGEL LAKE The road is open to Angel Lake though the lake is 90% ice covered. There is a stretch of open water along the dam available for fishing. However, there is a small snow drift to walk over to get to the dam. No report on how fishing is.

ALPINE LAKES The lakes are ice and snow covered. With the snowpack expect a very late start to summer fishing at the high elevation lakes. It will probably be July before some of the lakes will be accessible.

STREAMS Flows in area streams are well above the long-term median and down just a bit from last week in most areas. Expect above average flows for most of the summer though they should become fishable around the 4th of July. Access to many streams can still be difficult due to road conditions and either snow, mud or flooding causing travel problems in many areas. Travel off roads is not recommended at this time. Carry chains, tow chain or rope and a shovel and be prepared to spend the night. Please leave a trip plan with someone responsible so that if you don't return home at the expected time someone can start looking for you. Streams will be turbid which will also add to the difficult fishing conditions. You can get to the Bruneau on the Gold Creek Road though the river is still experiencing some flooding with the high flows. The washouts on the Gold Creek/Diamond A road to Jarbidge have been repaired by the Elko County Road Department. The Jarbidge is over its banks in areas as well. As of the morning of June 9, the East Fork of the Owyhee was flowing at 58.4 cfs below Wildhorse dam, while the station near Mountain City was flowing at 237 cfs. The Jarbidge River at 225 cfs, the Bruneau River at 342 cfs, Salmon Falls Creek at 633 cfs, Lamoille Creek a high 331 cfs with some flooding, the South Fork of the Humboldt is also over its banks in areas, but down from last week, is flowing between 850 and 950 cfs, Cleve Creek at 36.2 cfs, Steptoe Creek at 29.5 cfs and Kingston Creek at 51.8 cfs.


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