Fall is definitely upon us and fishing has picked up at area reservoirs as the water temperatures have cooled into the mid 40s to low 50-degree range. Great news for anglers as trout move into the shallows, giving shore anglers some good action.
While watching some anglers practice “catch and release” fishing, I realized that while well intentioned, anglers who don’t understand how to handle a fish during this process may be killing the fish anyway.
These anglers were pulling the fish onto shore using the line and dragging them through the sand, dirt and gravel, scraping the protective mucus on their body away. This protective slime lubricates the fish, allowing it to swim better, and helps keep bacteria and parasites away from the fish.
I seldom handle my fish when releasing them. I leave them in the water, using my forceps to remove the fly, lure or hook and letting them swim away without ever leaving the water or being handled.
If I do want to measure the fish or take a picture, I wet my hands, use a fish-friendly net, and remove the fly being careful to not squeeze the fish or put my fingers in the gills. Encircling the fish at the base of the tail while supporting it underneath the belly with my other hand is often enough to subdue the fish without harming it.
NDOW will be holding free fly tying classes starting Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. They will be held at the NDOW office at 60 Youth Center Road. This is a progressive fly tying class that will take place every Wednesday night except during holiday weeks until late March. The class will end with an introductory fly fishing class in the spring.
There are some fly tying kits available for loan on a first come, first served basis. Supplies for the class are provided by NDOW. For more information or to reserve a space in the class, call 777-2305 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can register for the class at www.register-ed.com.
Surface water temperatures are in the mid 40s to low 50s, and trout fishing is still good. Shore anglers are having luck as trout have moved into shallower water, though boaters and float tubers seem to be doing just a bit better. Bass fishing is fair, while keeper sized perch are showing up in the creel. Trout are averaging 15 to 19 inches with the occasional 20+ inch fish being taken. Flies to try include black/blood leeches, balanced leeches, and wooly buggers on a sinking line. This is also the time of year when midge larva become a staple for trout, so chironomid patterns are called for. There is an occasional Mayfly hatch, so hares ears and pheasant tail nymphs should be part of your arsenal. Bait anglers are doing well with PowerBait or worms. Hendricks and Penrod arms both still appear to be good areas to catch fish though anglers are having luck around much of the lake. Almost 60,000 trout stocked in Wildhorse this fall.
SOUTH FORK RESERVOIR
Surface water temperatures have dropped into the low 50s here and algae is clearing. Trout fishing will appears to be picking up as a couple of anglers report some good luck at the south end of the lake in about six feet of water with brown wooly buggers with some red flash in the tail. With the lower water temperatures, expect bass fishing to slow down for numbers of fish caught, but pick up for size of fish. Fly rodders should be using chironomids, hares ears, flash back PT nymphs, prince nymphs, balanced leeches and wooly or crystal buggers for trout. Spinners and minnow imitating lures with some red in them should work for spin anglers. Dark soft plastic grubs with some sparkle are working for bass. As the water cools and bass start moving down into the water column, deep running blade baits and crank baits should start working for bass. Just under 29,000 trout were stocked in South Fork last week.
Very little change here as the water level is very low and fishing for trout is fair to good, but the fish are smaller than at South Fork. Bass fishing is slowing down. PowerBait, nightcrawlers, and dark spinners with some red or yellow accents seem to be working. Black wooly buggers and seal buggers are producing fish and anglers may also want to try the usual nymphs especially mayfly nymphs such as hares ears and pheasant tails. The same tactics used at South Fork, should work here for both bass and trout.
The water level is at a seasonal 45 percent of capacity and fishing for trout is good, while fishing for bass is fair. Trout are hitting hares ears, PT nymphs, red copper Johns, red brassies and chironomid patterns. Black or olive wooly and crystal buggers fished on an intermediate or full sinking line should also work. Bait anglers appear to be having good luck with garlic PowerEggs for trout. Worms are also working. 6,000 trout were stocked here earlier this month.
RUBY LAKE NWR
With the cooler water temperatures, bass fishing has slowed considerably here. Surface water temperatures are hovering around 50 degrees, well below prime temperatures for bass. While numbers of fish being caught is dropping, expect better quality fish to be taken, with the best time being late afternoon when the water is at its warmest. Unit 21 was producing bass from the dikes in the afternoon earlier this week. Dark soft plastics with some flash fished weedless are the presentation of choice. Best colors seemed to be purple, motor oil and dark green and 4-inch grubs are doing much better than 6-inch. Fishing continues to be fair to good at the collection ditch for 12 to 16 inch trout. Small spinners and minnow imitations were producing some fish for spin fishermen, but fly rodders were doing better. Anglers should be switching to smaller dry flies on the warm afternoons, Griffith’s gnats, elk hair caddis and Adams are all good choices. Other flies include ants, beetles and the usual small nymphs such as PT’s, hares ears, red or blue copper Johns, and prince nymphs. Wooly and crystal buggers in black, purple or olive are also working. In the crystal clear water of the collection ditch, if you can see the fish, they can see you. Go low, slow and wear drab clothing.
JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIR
Very little change here as the water level is very low due to irrigation and the weeds are making fishing from shore difficult. This is normal for this time of year and with the colder weather and precipitation, the weeds are dying off. Best fishing is still from float tubes or small boats. Anglers can use a variety of presentations including worms, PowerBait, spinners and flies. Chironomids, wooly buggers, hares ears, prince nymphs and damselfly nymphs are recommended. Fishing for trout is fair while fishing for bass has slowed. Bass anglers should be using small dark colored plastic grubs or two tone plastic grubs.
COLD CREEK RESERVOIR
Trout fishing is good as the cooler temperatures have them more active. Anglers should do well on Power Bait, Mepps, Panther Martins, and nightcrawlers for both trout and bass, though bass fishing is slowing down with the cooler temperatures. Flyfishers will do well on dry fly patterns as well as wooly and crystal buggers. Patterns to try include small stimulators, PMD’s, elk hair caddis, Griffith’s gnats, and Adams. Small black or olive bead head crystal buggers were working well for both bass and trout. Bait anglers will have luck with night crawlers or chartreuse garlic flavored PowerEggs.
Very little change here with surface water temperatures cooling down, fishing at Cave Lake is good. Trout have moved up in the water column with the cooler water. The usual PowerBait or worms as well as small spinners, panther Martins or rooster tails should all work. Fly fishermen have been doing well with dry flies with elk hair caddis, ants, small stimulators and Adams and these should still work on the warm afternoons. Nymphs to try include prince, pheasant tails, hares ears, damsel and midge larva when fishing deeper water. Cave Lake has been stocked with approximately 10,000 trout over the past month.
Trout fishing is good with the cooler water temperatures, now in the low 50s. Largemouth bass catch rates have dropped off though trout fishing is still very good for 14 to 18 inch fish. Trout are hitting a variety of flies from nymphs to buggers as well as powerbait and nightcrawlers. Bass are hitting dark soft plastic grubs bounced along the bottom and senkos. Comins was recently stocked with approximately 2300 trout.
Water levels are seasonally low with much of the old dam showing above water. Fishing is good for 10 to 12 inch trout with the occasional 15 to 20 inch fish being taken. Anglers should have the best luck with Power Bait, Mepps, Panther Martins, and nightcrawlers. Fly rodders should be using black or olive wooly buggers as well as chironomids, hare’s ears, leech patterns and PT nymphs. Brown trout are active as they look for spawning habitat. More than 15,000 rainbow trout have been stocked here over the past month.
The road is still open, though there is some snow at lake level, and fishing continues to be very good for fly fishermen using a variety of presentations as the fish are getting as much food as they can before the lake freezes over. Dry fly fishing continues to be productive as has stripping small leech and bugger patterns. Stimulators, elk hair caddis, Adams, Griffith’s gnats, red quills and just about any small dry fly should still work. Bait anglers are not doing quite as well, but fishing is still fair to good for them. Small worms seem to work better than PowerBait here. Also small spinners in black and gold or dark green and gold are effective at Angel Lake. The water level is down, making for more shoreline for water access in front of the dam, brush, and trees.
With the recent snows at higher elevations it is recommended that only experienced hikers attempt to get to the high mountain lakes. Lamoille Canyon will be closed to the end of November, so access to some of themore popular lakes, Lamoille, Island, Liberty and Favre is not practical. The access road to the Soldier Creek access to Hidden Lake closes every year in November to protect the road, though you can get in with a very long hike from the Ruby Valley side. Expect fishing to be good, though the further from the trailheads you go, the better the fishing. Anglers who like to fish the high mountain lakes need to get at it while the getting is good. Worms seem to produce better than PowerBait at the higher elevations and small spinners and rooster tails are also effective. Fly fishermen will want to use small nymphs sized 12 – 18 such as hares ears, PT’s, prince nymphs, copper Johns as well as black or olive wooly buggers sized 10 and 12. Dry flies to try include Griffith’s gnats, small stimulators, elk hair caddis, small black Adams, humpies, ants and beetles.
Dry flies should still be effective though nymphs will probably outperform them. Try floating small elk hair caddis, small stimulators, royal trudes, renegades and of course terrestrials: hoppers, ants and beetles. In some of our northern Elko County streams October caddis are active and caddis nymphs are a great choice this time of year. Hares ears, copper Johns, PT’s and small soft hackle streamers are also good selections now. Lamoille Canyon is closed to the public due to dangerous conditions from the Range 2 Fire. With the vegetation starting to go dormant, stream flows in some areas have picked up just a bit. Cleve Creek is flowing at approximately 6 cfs (cubic feet per second), Steptoe at a little over 2, South Fork of the Humboldt at 6 cfs, the Bruneau up a bit at 11.5 cfs, the Jarbidge at 6 cfs and Salmon Falls Creek at 45 cfs.