Happy New Year everyone, can you say hello La Nina! It is a meteorological model that develops as the waters along the equator cool with an upwelling of colder water from the depths. This causes a variety of changes in weather conditions, which typically means more precipitation and cooler temperatures in parts of the northwestern United States, the Great Plains and Great Lakes, while the southern states. west and south receive drier and warmer weather which can lead to droughts.
Fortunately for our region, the weather conditions are dropping a bit this year, which brings us recent precipitation which has dumped above average amounts of snow in the northern part of the Grand Bassin, as well as colder temperatures. Even the Spring Mountains west of Las Vegas received much above average snowfall.
This snow is more affectionately known as the future fish habitat and is good news for fishermen in the area if the trend continues through the winter. It’s a big IF. Right now everything is fine and although it is painful to have to shovel the driveway and sidewalks almost every day, let’s hope this continues.
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This week, the USGS Snotel sites show snow water equivalents in Nevada Basins ranging from 90% of the median in northern Elko County to 245% of the median in the Spring Mountains in the southern Nevada. The Lamoille Canyon Snotel site posted 133%, good news for South Fork. The Owyhee River basin, part of which empties into Wildhorse, is at 109% of the median, which is also good news for this reservoir.
The cooler temperatures also mean that ice formation will continue and that we have safe ice in some of our reservoirs for ice fishing. That being said, it’s early in the season that conditions can change quickly, so drill test holes on the ice when you go out to make sure the ice is safe to walk on. See individual waters below for ice information.
As of Thursday, December 30, Wildhorse was completely covered in ice ranging from 4 to 8 inches, although there were a few problem areas. There are pockets of slush as well as layered ice. Layered ice is where there is a base layer of ice, a layer of water and then another thinner layer of ice on top that is often broken by getting your feet wet. In areas close to shore, it is safe for ice fishing, but at present it is not safe for ATVs and snowmobiles. There is snow on the ice but due to the wind there are varying thicknesses with some areas almost snow free while others have drift. The state park campground is open on a first come, first serve basis, although nighttime temperatures are single digits on Saturday nights, then warm to around zero early next week. Reports of anglers doing well on trout, but no reports on perch. Biologists expect good ice fishing this winter for trout and perch.
On Thursday, December 30, the lake was covered with unsafe ice. This lake is in limbo between dangerous ice with no open water for fishing. It may take a few more weeks for there to be safe ice here, depending on the weather.
No recent reports, but expect conditions similar to South Fork. The road to Wilson is by 4×4 only with snow.
Harrison Pass is closed, so fishermen will need to access the refuge via the Secret Pass, even though the roads were covered in snow and snowdrifts on Thursday. At that time, chains or snow tires were required to traverse Secret Pass to Ruby Valley. There is ice on the collection ditch but there is also open water wherever there are sources for fishing. The wind makes fishing in the gathering ditch uncomfortable and difficult, but between storms the fishing should be good. With cold water conditions, fish deeper areas and springs where the water is a bit warmer. Chironomid patterns such as zebra midges, Yankee buzzers, chromies, and ice cream cones should work. Fishing may improve between storm fronts. There is ice in the south swamp and the wharf is out of the water. Other flies such as leech models, balanced leeches, crystal buggers, hare ears # 14-16 and nymphs and chironomids # 16-18 PT under an indicator are recommended. Egg models can be effective this time of year here. Anglers should use small black or olive wringers with contrasting yellow or red colors.
JAKES CREEK / BOIES TANK
At last report the lake was covered in dangerous ice, but chances are it has improved and there may be safe ice there, but check it before you venture out. Obviously, no recent report on ice or fishing conditions.
The Cold Creek Reservoir was salvaged so the water control structure could be repaired to prevent leaks. When the control structure is set, the reservoir will be full and NDOW will begin to replenish the fishery in the spring or summer of 2022 depending on water conditions.
Water levels continue to decline at Cave Lake in anticipation of dam renovation efforts in 2022. The lake is closed to fishing at this time. NDOW did a fish retrieval last week and moved some really nice brown trout ranging from eight to 25 inches into Comins Lake. Some of the larger brown trout weighed seven pounds. Cave Lake is closed to fishing due to very soft and dangerous banks due to the complete saturation of the soil as the lake dries up. By draining the lake, it should reduce the reconstruction of the dam by a few years and considerably reduce costs. It will also make the project much safer for those doing the work.
The ice last week was four to five inches thick at the north end and five to nine inches at the south end. It should have gained in thickness over the past week and anglers report good fishing for 15-18 inch rainbows on nocturnal caterpillars. A few anglers also seemed to use PowerBait well. Soft plastic jigs with a worm should also work. Anglers, please note that NDOW has placed radio beacons in several large pike. These pike will have an orange floy tag near their dorsal fin and a small antennae (~ 7 inches long) coming from their stomachs. Please release these fish for research. All other pike must be shipped humane.
Finally, check that the road leading to the lake had not been cleared of snow, so it is 4×4 only in the lake. Throw in a set of chains and a shovel so your fishing trip doesn’t get cut short by getting stuck in the way. Expect four to seven inches of ice here, but be sure to drill test holes before venturing too far onto the ice. The usual nightcrawlers or PowerBait should work here, as well as dark colored soft plastic jigs with a worm.
The road to Angel Lake is closed for the winter and the lake is covered in ice and there will be no more fishing reports until late spring or early summer depending on snowfall this winter.
Alpine lakes are frozen over and there will be no more fishing reports until late spring or early summer depending on snowfall. High mountain travel during this time is not recommended due to avalanche warnings.
The streams are a mixed bag with some flows improving with precipitation and others decreasing with freezing temperatures, although many show ice and are very difficult to fish at this time. The shores are slippery and dangerous with ice and snow. With cooler water temperatures, expect stream fishing to be slow. Fish in deeper pools and slower waters where fish hang out this time of year to save energy. As of December 30, the East Fork of the Owyhee near Mountain City was still showing ice but expects flows between 15 and 20 cfs, the Bruneau River also shows ice but expects flows between 10 and 15 cfs, the Jarbidge also has ice but expects flows near 6 cfs, Salmon Falls Creek at 59 cfs, Lamoille Creek at 7.7 cfs, the south fork of the Humboldt showing ice but expects flow rates between 10 and 15 cfs, Cleve Creek at 4.5 cfs, Steptoe Creek at 2.3 cfs and Kingston Creek at 3 cfs.