Fishing the Reese River

Fishing Regulations Nevada Freshwater Fishing

Fishing the Reese River

Are you looking to get away from the crowds for some quality fishing? Then the Reese River is for you. The fishable part of the Reese River, along with some of its tributaries, is in the Arc Dome Wilderness in central Nevada between Austin and Tonopah. Because it is so far from a major population center it is a very underutilized fishery.

Currently the river system holds a variety of species of trout including brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout and Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) that have been hybridized with rainbow trout. It is one of the largest intact historic LCT stream habitat systems in the state of Nevada and has been identified as a key LCT recovery water by biologists working to conserve that species.

To that end the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) in partnership with the USFWS, the US Forest Service and the Yomba Indian Reservation, plans to remove non-native fish and restore native LCT that once occupied the stream.

Depending upon permitting and water conditions, the upper Reese and its tributaries could be treated in mid to late summer by NDOW. As part of that plan, limits were recently lifted from the Reese River and its tributaries providing a unique opportunity for anglers to catch and keep as many fish as they want to help NDOW with the removal of non-native fish.

After the removal of non-native fish, NDOW will take LCT from existing populations within the Reese River Basin and transplant them into quality spawning waters within the upper Reese River basin. Depending upon water conditions and Mother Nature, it may take several years for the LCT to recover to fishable populations. At that time, Nevada anglers will have the unique opportunity to catch native LCT in one of the more pristine LCT streams in Nevada and take Nevada one step closer to removing Lahontan cutthroat trout as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.


From Austin, travel west on US 50 to the SR 722 turnoff (approximately two miles). Head south on SR 722 approximately six miles to the Ione/Yomba Indian Reservation turnoff. Follow this road (mixture of pavement and gravel) south approximately 53 miles, past the Yomba Indian Reservation to the Cow Canyon Creek Trailhead road. Follow this road another 5.5 miles to the trailhead. Once there, it is about a 1.5 mile hike on a good trail to the Reese River. Anglers may also want to pick up a map from any US Forest Service office that shows the Arc Dome Wilderness.


The entire stream within the Arc Dome Wilderness has the potential to hold quality trout, though the higher densities of trout are higher up in the system due to clean cold perennial water. The main stem of the Reese contains mostly brown and rainbow trout, though anglers may also catch brook trout and rainbow/LCT hybrids. Big Sawmill Creek and Little Jett Creek, large tributaries of the Reese, contain mostly brook trout with the occasional rainbow or LCT/rainbow hybrid.


The best fishing occurs from just after the spring runoff to right before it starts to ice up in late fall. Mid to late summer may find low flows, but also lots of grasshoppers and insect hatches that have trout actively feeding.


Whether you are a bait, spin or fly fisherman, beaver ponds should be high on your list when fishing the Reese. They hold a lot of fish and make for fairly easy fishing. In the ponds bait anglers can use worms, PowerBait or grasshoppers fished under a small bobber. In the stream, the same baits can be used, just fish them on a light wire hook and dead drift or high stick them through runs or tail waters.

Spin anglers will want to use small spinners, rooster tails or panther Martins, or similar style presentations to fish the same areas. Fly rodders can use a variety of dry flies as well as nymphs that can be dead drifted or high sticked through riffles and runs. Flies to try include ants, beetles, grasshoppers, elk hair caddis, yellow stimulators, gold ribbed hares ears, pheasant tail nymphs, red or green copper Johns and caddis nymph imitations.