Eastern Nevada: Not Just Trout Fishing Anymore
While northeastern Nevada may not be a traditional warmwater fishing destination, anglers from around Nevada and other nearby states regularly make the trip to fish the variety of lakes and reservoirs in the region. Elko and White Pine counties are known for some of their quality coldwater trout fisheries, but recently fisheries management efforts have been expanded to growing existing and creating new warmwater fishing opportunities.
Wildhorse Reservoir not only offers quality trout fishing, but the fishery also offers a variety of other species including smallmouth bass, channel catfish, wipers, and white crappie. Last year was an exciting fishing season at Wildhorse with a new water record channel catfish landed at over 28 pounds, and a new wiper record at over 15 pounds. Anglers on social media were also sharing catches of multiple wipers over 10 pounds and channel catfish in the 15-pound range.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife resumed stocking Wipers in spring 2022 and fisheries biologists are expecting these fish to grow quickly foraging on the abundance of juvenile yellow perch. While not many anglers specifically target the channel catfish at Wildhorse Reservoir, the fish often reach impressive sizes and offer a great summer fishing opportunity.
Smallmouth bass are a highly favored warm water sportfish at Wildhorse. In the early summer months, anglers travel from all over the state to experience the quality smallmouth bass fishing the reservoir offers. Anglers can expect good numbers of fish with 2–3-pound smallmouth bass caught regularly. The water record for smallmouth bass in Wildhorse Reservoir is 5-pounds 5-oz.
White crappie are a relatively new addition to Wildhorse Reservoir and Fisheries Biologist CJ Ellingwood plans to augment the growing white crappie fishery in Wildhorse along with establishing a new crappie fishery at nearby Wilson Sink Reservoir.
“We are continually forced to manage reservoir fisheries with fluctuating water levels and warmer water temperatures, which creates challenges for trout fisheries,” said Ellingwood. “We are exploring options to expand angling opportunities while still maintaining the existing fisheries. Crappie are a popular sportfish in the handful of fisheries where they occur in northern Nevada, and we think they will add an exciting component to the rainbow trout and largemouth bass fishery currently present at Wilson Sink Reservoir.”
Just a short drive outside of Elko, South Fork Reservoir has long been known for its quality warmwater fishing. The current state record channel catfish , over 32 pounds, was caught at South Fork along with several wipers weighing in at more than 16 pounds.
Over the last five years largemouth bass have represented most of the catch with an average length of over 11 inches. The water record for largemouth bass currently sits at 8-pounds 2-ounces. Smallmouth bass fishing is also very popular with anglers and fish grow to over 6 pounds. Since 2002, wipers have been periodically stocked in South Fork Reservoir to control non-game fish and provide alternate angling opportunities.
“The wipers have not only done a great job suppressing non-game fish but have also grown in popularity with the angling community,” said Fisheries Biologist Mike Starr. “Wipers were most recently stocked in the spring of 2022 and will continue to be stocked at South Fork to keep up with angling demand.”
Destinations like Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Comins Lake in White Pine County are also popular choices for anglers wanting to experience a successful summer evening of largemouth bass fishing. The August 1 gas-powered motorboat opener is always a popular choice for anglers at Ruby Lake. Both fisheries are also great choices for anglers who may only have access to float tubes, pontoon boats, canoes, or similar vessels. Topwater fishing in the warm summer evenings is both efficient and effective. The largemouth bass fishery at Comins Lake has even expanded to the point where it is functioning as a source stock to augment smaller fisheries in White Pine County.
Anglers are also reminded that there are a variety of smaller water bodies throughout the region that offer angling opportunities for warmwater fish species. Other fisheries include Jakes Creek Reservoir, Dry Creek Reservoir, Willow Creek Pond, and the Humboldt River just to name of few.
Trout fishing will always draw anglers to northeastern Nevada, but biologists are optimistic the ever-increasing angling opportunities for warmwater fish species like smallmouth bass, wipers, and crappie will keep anglers fishing throughout the summer months when trout fishing typically slows. Anglers are always encouraged to contact local fisheries biologists in the Elko and Ely NDOW offices to discuss current fishing conditions and warmwater fishing opportunities.