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Joe's Fishing Hole: Don't be fooled by Mother Nature

The Elko Daily Free Press

Mother Nature is playing games with us here in northeastern Nevada. While most of the winter South Fork has been ice free, as of Wednesday it was about 50 percent covered in very thin, unsafe ice due to this cold spell. That still leaves plenty of lake open for fishing though.

It looks like unsettled and colder weather over the next 10 days, so ice conditions at Wildhorse should hold while we may see skim ice at area waters that many have been fishing over the past month.

There is a good chance of snow today so instead of fishing, come on out to the third annual Elko Sportsman’s Expo at the Conference Center in the Elko Convention Center. This year the Nevada Department of Wildlife, with the help of Elko Broadcasting, is the host of the event. As always it is free and lots to see for both the kids and adults.

NDOW will have the very popular kids room set up with lots of hands-on activities for the youngsters. Activities include an archery range, fly tying, lasershot (an interactive shooting skills game), and wildlife skins, antlers and horns. While supplies last, there will be t-shirts to decorate with wildlife stencils and stamps. This is all free!

In the main room there will be plenty for the adults to check out with vendors with lots of great stuff. Visitors can check out the latest in firearms, taxidermy, trucks, OHVs, RVs and trailers, camouflage, metal art and a whole lot more.

A number of local nonprofit outdoor groups will be there as well. Come learn about the missions and programs that groups like Elko Bighorns Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruby Mountain Clay Breakers and a whole lot more do every year for wildlife, the habitat, and our communities.


Wildhorse has approximately seven inches of ice with a layer of snow on top. There are active pressure ridges, which cause a weakening of the ice, so anglers are warned to avoid these areas. There has been some open water over the past couple of weeks that has frozen over with unsafe ice, and it is hard to tell the difference. Anglers should avoid the area near the bridge in the Hendricks Arm, the mouth of the Hendricks arm where it opens into the main body of the lake, and most of the western side of the lake. That being said, fishing was good in Penrod last weekend and on the southeast side of the lake. As a general rule, anglers should find trout in six to 10 feet of water. For the most part, the fish are averaging 15 to 20 inches in length. Garlic flavored PowerBait or PowerEggs have been working well. Jigging should improve the odds of catching a fish.


With the current cold spell, the lake is now about 50 percent covered in unsafe ice (less than an inch thick). That does leave some open water for fishing. Fishing has been just fair, but those fish being caught ranged from 18 to 22 inches with the occasional 25 inch fish being reported. Most anglers are having some success with PowerBait or worms, while fly rodders should be using chironomids, hares ears, prince nymphs and buggers. Sherbet PowerBait fished using a slip sinker off of the bottom about 25-30 feet from shore seemed to work the best.


Like South Fork, Zunino Reservoir has seen some ice covering about half of it, and it is unsafe. Fishing has been just fair here, probably due to the drop in temperatures. Use the same presentations at Jiggs as you would at South Fork.


The road to Wilson is rutted and has some snow on it and should be considered 4WD. At last report, the lake was ice free, but it may have some skim ice like the other lakes. The water level is approximately 50% of capacity with lite flow at the inlet to the lake. Up to this current cold spell, fishing has been fair to good for 14 to 19 inch fish. No report on what anglers are using and no recent report on fishing success.


Fishing has been fair to good at the collection ditch depending upon the day and the experience of the angler. Small spinners and minnow imitations were producing some fish for spin fishermen, but fly rodders were doing better. Fly rodders should be using hare’s ears, pheasant tails, prince nymphs, midge patterns, eggs and egg sucking leeches. The fish are moving, so if you don’t have much luck in one area, pack up and hit another. Earlier this week, you could get over Harrison, though there was snow and 4WD was needed in some spots. With the snow on Thursday and Friday, it may be iffy getting over Harrison this weekend.


A week ago Jakes Creek was about 60 percent open water and with the recent cold spell, expect some rebuilding of the ice, though any ice here is unsafe. No recent report on anglers fishing here. However, if fishing here the usual PowerBait or worms for bait anglers and small dark spinners for spin fishermen. Fly rodders should be using chironomids, hares ears, prince nymphs and olive or black wooly buggers.


At last report Cold Creek was 100 percent open water, though it may have some skim ice on it now. Expect fishing to be fair to good for trout though there is no recent report of anglers fishing here.


At last report there was unsafe ice with some open water at the inlet where you can fish. With the recent cold spell, there may not be any open water. No word on ice conditions so assume it is unsafe. The usual PowerBait or worms as well as small spinners, panther Martins or rooster tails should all work.


Unsafe ice with open water in the north lake and the extreme south end of the lake that is fishable. However, the ice has come back to cover more of the lake, but it is still unsafe. Anglers report catching limits in the open water using worms, though PowerBait should also work. Fly fishermen should be using wooly buggers, prince nymphs, damsel fly nymphs, hares ears and pheasant tail nymphs.


Illipah is approximately 45 percent open water, primarily along the dam side. The rest of the lake is covered in unsafe ice. Expect fishing to be fair to good along the ice edges using the usual PowerBait or worms. If you are throwing hardware, small bright spinners, rooster tails and small minnow imitations can be productive here.

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