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Game Fish of Nevada


(Lepomis macrochirus)

Very colorful. Light to dark blue on bright purple. In breeding season, the breast of males is red. Gill covers often blue with a black spot on the rear of the “ear flap”. Faint vertical bars on the sides. Dorsal fin has 10 spines followed without interruption by 10 or 12 rays. The mouth is small and when closed, barely reaches the front of the eye. Body deep for its length and compressed from side to side. Found in ponds and reservoirs throughout northwestern and southern Nevada.

Bull Trout

(Salvelinus confluentus)

The bull trout is normally olive-green to light green along the back and sides and appears somewhat washed out. Back with pale yellow spots and sides with orange or red spots; fins fringed with yellow orange; pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins with white margins. This fish is native to only the Jarbidge River system of northern Elko County and occurs in tributaries associated with the two forks of that stream system.

Cutthroat Trout

(Oncorhynchus clarkii)

Body color is highly variable with three subspecies in Nevada. Back may be steel gray to olive-green. Sides may be yellow-brown with red or pink along belly. Slash marks on either side of the throat beneath the lower jaw may be yellow, crimson-red or orange. Fins uniform color with no white tips. Scattered spots are usually round and black, more closely grouped towards the tail. Teeth on back of tongue. May hybridize with rainbow. Native to the Humboldt, Snake, and Bonneville basins of Nevada. Currently occurs in 112 streams and a small number of lakes where it’s well known for its large size.


(Oncorhynchus nerka)

Kokanee are silver in color until they are ready to spawn in the fall, at which time they become bright red. Kokanee are a form of landlocked sockeye salmon and generally do not grow larger than 16 inches. Within the state, Kokanee can be found in Lake Tahoe and its tributaries when spawning.

Brook Trout

(Salvelinus fontinalis)

Color ranges from olive, blue-gray or black on the back to white on the belly. Belly and lower fins brilliant orange in spawning males. Upper body and dorsal fin have mottled or worm-like markings. Red spots, with or without bluish rings around them. The most distinguishing marks are the white and thin black stripe along the fore edge of the lower fins. Tail square or slightly forked. Occurs in about 278 mountain streams in Nevada where it frequents cooler water. Found in Ruby Mountain alpine lakes and other coldwater lakes.



No scales. Tail only slightly forked, with rounded lobes. Adults are blackish, dark olive or dark brown. Belly is yellow, greenish-white, or white. Chin barbels are entirely black. The pectoral fin spine is smooth. Found in farm ponds and reservoirs throughout Nevada.



Silver-olive with numerous black or dark green splotches on the sides. Forehead is dished and the snout is turned up. Five or more anal spines and 7 or 8 dorsal spines. Base of the dorsal fin is about the same length as the base of the anal fin. Body compressed from side to side. Found in warmwater lakes and reservoirs throughout Nevada.

Lake Trout Or Mackinaw

(Salvelinus namaycush)

Not as highly colored as other trout. Dark gray or gray-green above, belly light gray or white. Light gray irregular shaped spots or lines on back, sides, dorsal fin and tail. No white edging appears on lower fins as in brook trout. Tail deeply forked. Currently found in Lake Tahoe, Nevada-California, and Liberty and Echo Lakes in Elko County.

Brown Trout

(Salmo trutta)

Back is brown or olive with large black spots. Sides light brown to yellowish, with numerous black and red-orange spots surrounded by light blue rings. Few if any spots on tail. Tail square, not forked. Brown trout occur widely in central and eastern Nevada streams and occur in about 73 streams statewide. Also found in some lakes and reservoirs. Spooky and difficult to catch.

Channel Catfish

(Ictalurus punctatus)

No scales, tail deeply forked with pointed lobes. Body pale bluish-olive above and bluish-white below. Spots vary from a few to many over much of the body and may not occur on large fish. Barbels extend from the chin and upper jaw. Both dorsal and pectoral fins have strong, sharp spines. Larger fish may be distinguished from the white catfish by the longer black barbels and more streamlined body form. Tail more deeply forked and head thinner and less rounded than white catfish. White on belly only to forward edge of anal fin. Found in warm water streams and reservoirs in northwestern and southern Nevada.

Green Sunfish

(Lepomis cyanellus)

Each scale is flecked with yellow or emerald green. Back and sides olive-green, and lower belly yellowish-copper or brassy. Body is short, stocky, and deeply compressed from side to side. The gill cover has a broad, light margin, and it often has a black spot on the rear flap. The gill cover bone is stiff all the way to the margin which is different from most other sunfish.

Largemouth Bass

(Micropterus salmoides)

Dark green on back and sides, silvery below. Belly is greenish-white. A broad dark band on the sides which consists of irregular patches touching together. Dorsal fin with 9 to 10 sharp spines nearly separated from the soft rays by a deep notch. Upper jaw when closed extends at least to the rear edge of the eye in adults, usually beyond. Abundant in lakes and reservoirs throughout Nevada.

Mountain Whitefish

(Prosopium williamsoni)

Back and fins are light brown and the sides and belly are silver and white. There are no spots. Tail deeply forked and body is deep and round. Mouth small with no teeth. Large fleshy adipose fin. Scales large and rough. The whitefish occurs in a number of larger streams in western and northeastern Nevada.

Redear Sunfish

(Lepomis microlophus)

Dark brown to green back with yellow to green sides. Belly is light yellow to nearly white. The mouth is small and the opercular lobe or ear flap has a dark blue-back spot with red to orange edge. Found in small ponds in southern Nevada, Dufurrena Ponds, and ponds in Mason Valley WMA in northern Nevada. Also found in the Colorado River below Davis Dam.

White Bass

(Morone chrysops)

Dark gray to black on the back, with bright silvery sides and white belly. The sides have dark stripes or lines (about 5 are above the lateral line). There are 13 or 14 rays in the dorsal fin, and 11 to 13 in the anal fin. Body strongly compressed from side to side, forehead is dished and snout is slightly turned up. Found in Lahontan Reservoir, Rye Patch Reservoir and Washoe Lake.

Spotted Bass

(Micropterus punctulatus)

One of the several black basses found in a few northern Nevada waters such as Lahontan and Rye Patch reservoirs and Sparks Marina Pond. Green to dark green on back and sides with a white belly. Rows of spots along the lower sides below the dark lateral stripe. Dorsal fins are connected and not separated into two distinct fins. Upper jaw extends to the back of the eye, but not beyond the eye as in the largemouth bass.


(Lepomis gibbosus)

Considered a very colorful sunfish, the pumpkinseed is highlighted with mostly orange-brown spots on the main body and dorsal fin. Belly is orange-yellow. Opercular lobe has a dark blue-black spot with a bright red or orange edge. The cheek and operculum, or gill plate, also have wavy blue lines much like a green sunfish. Pumpkinseed have been caught in northwestern Nevada from the Truckee River, Peavine Ponds, Rancho San Rafael Pond, and Steamboat Creek.


(Morone chrysops x M. saxatilis)

A hybrid bass produced by crossing a female white bass with a male striped bass. Hybrids closely resemble both striped bass and white bass making identification difficult, particularly for young fish. When comparing adult fish, the hybrid has a deep body and an arched back similar to the white bass. Wipers can often be distinguished by broken or irregular stripes on the front half of body and straight lines on the rear half of body. A mid-body break in line pattern occasionally occurs. In other parts of the country the wiper is known as the sunshine bass, palmetto bass or whiterock bass.

Striped Bass

(Morone saxatilis)

Body olive-green above, shading through silvery on sides to white on belly with brassy reflection. There are 7 to 8 longitudinal dark stripes following the scale rows. A spiny dorsal fin is barely separated from a soft dorsal fin. The tail is forked and the body is cylindrical in shape. Striped bass occur in only a few of the larger lakes in Nevada including Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. The fish can become very large with some specimens larger than 50 pounds.

Yellow Perch

(Perca flavescens)

Rich yellow to brassy-green with 6 to 8 dark vertical bars on the sides. Dark green back. No “canine” teeth. The belly is whitish. The dorsal fin has two sections, the front one contains 12 to 14 sharp spines and the rear 12 to 13 soft rays.

Rainbow Trout

(Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Body usually olive to greenish-blue on the back; belly white to silver; sides usually show prominent red or pink streak. Fish from lakes sometimes lose all color and appear silvery. Irregular spots on back, sides, head, dorsal fin and tail. No teeth on back of tongue. Native to the Columbia River drainage of northeastern Nevada, but stocked extensively from hatcheries throughout Nevada. Nevada’s most abundant game fish species occurring in 295 streams statewide and in a large number of lakes and reservoirs.

Smallmouth Bass

(Micropterus dolomieu)

Dark olive to brown on back, sides bronze, belly white. Five dark vertical bands on sides. Eyes reddish. Dorsal fin with 9 or 10 sharp spines without a deep notch separating them from the soft rays. Upper jaw when closed does not extend beyond the rear edge of the eye. Smallmouth bass are one of the most popular and abundant game species in Lakes Mead and Mohave. It is also found in the Humboldt River, Dry Creek Reservoir, Wildhorse Reservoir, Rye Patch, Carson River, Lahontan Reservoir and Wall Canyon Reservoir.


(Sander vitreus)

Prominent “canine” teeth distinguish this big perch from its smaller family member the yellow perch. Color is brassy-olive buff sometimes shading to yellowish sides and white beneath. No distinct bars on the sides, but rather an overall mottling of black or brown. Large dark blotches at rear base of dorsal fin, and the lower lobe of tail fin is white tipped. The tail is moderately forked. Found in a few western Nevada waters including Lahontan and Rye Patch Reservoirs, the Humboldt River below Rye Patch Reservoir and Chimney Reservoir.

White Catfish

(Ameiurus catus)

Bluish to grayish above and white below. Tail deeply forked. No scales. No spots. Barbels extend from the chin and upper jaw. Both dorsal and pectoral fins have strong, sharp spines. White catfish have shorter barbels on the upper jaw than channel catfish, and barbels on lower jaw are whiter. Head is more rounded and white on belly extends to rear of anal fin. Found in Lahontan and Willow Creek Reservoirs and the Humboldt River with channel catfish.