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Joe's Fishing Hole: Flexible technique needed in the spring

The Elko Daily Free Press

Fly fishing in the spring can be challenging as we face rapidly changing conditions. Whether you are fishing Elko County’s small streams or one of its high desert reservoirs, anglers need to be flexible in both their presentations and their techniques.

Fishing reservoirs or streams this time of year, many anglers fish nymphs under an indicator. For those who don’t fly fish, an indicator is a flyrodder’s fancy word for bobber, and a nymph is a fly that imitates the larval or nymph stage of aquatic insects.

Double your chances by tying a second nymph onto the bend of the hook of the first fly. A simple improved clinch knot or a Duncan loop will do the trick. Flies to try using this method include hares ears, copper Johns, pheasant tail (PT) nymphs, zebra midges, prince nymphs, zug bugs and san juan worms.

Anglers should also give streamers under an indicator a try. Mohair leeches, wooly buggers, seal buggers or any pattern tied with an active material like marabout or rabbit fur will work. The best time for these types of patterns is on a windy day with chop on the water that moves the flies up and down in the water column.

Of course bait or spin anglers can take advantage of the same techniques, only use your choice of bait or lure. Maybe PowerBait on one hook with another hook tied beneath it that has a worm on it. Or tie two small plastic grub patterns in line with two different colors and fish them under a bobber letting the chop on the water give them the action they need to entice a fish.

Start with the top presentation a few feet under the water and after a while if there are no strikes, move it down a foot or so further below the indicator (bobber). Continue moving the presentation down through the water column until the fish find it.

Of course, anglers need to read the regulations for the water being fished to make sure that presentations like these do meet the legal requirements.


Wildhorse is ice free and the dock is in the water for boaters to use at the State Park boat ramp. Fishing is fair to good depending upon the day with fish averaging 14 to 18 inches. Sherbet PowerBait seems to be working well. For fly rodders, chironomids are key. For information on chironomid fishing go to the Ruby Mountain Fly Fishers blog at

South Fork Reservoir

Fishing for trout has been good the past week at South Fork, though with the storm front moving through this weekend, it may put a bit of a damper on it (pun intended). Anglers report catching fish along the northeast side of the lake between the campground and the dam. The fish being caught were averaging between 16 and 20 inches with a number of them coming in over 20 inches. 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. Small dark spinners and minnow imitating lures are also worth a try. When it is cloudy darker colors seem to work best and when the sun is shining red and presentations with flash appear to be working. A few bass are being caught. Regulations state that black bass may not be kept between March 1 and June 30, it is catch and release only.


Zunino Reservoir has open water for fishing and fishing for trout has been fair to good. The water level is low, which should have the fish concentrated. PowerBait, nightcrawlers, and dark spinners with some red or yellow accents seem to be working. Brown or olive nymphs as well as red copper Johns and blood worm patterns for fly fishermen are good choices.


The road to Wilson is rutted and the lake about three vertical feet from spilling and filling slowly. The water is turbid and fishing for trout is fair.


Fishing has been fair to good at the collection ditch depending upon the day and the experience of the angler. The water is clearing, but may get colored up with this weekend’s precipitation. Several thousand rainbow and 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. Approximately 3,000 tiger trout and 3,000 rainbow trout between 9 and 13 inches were stocked in the collection ditch two weeks ago. Last week approximately 500 surplus brood rainbow trout averaging between 17 and 20 inches were also stocked in the collection ditch.


Jakes Creek is ice free and now is the time to fish it from shore before the weed growth kicks in. It is generally pretty good for trout right after ice out using a variety of presentations including worms, PowerBait, spinners and flies.


Cold Creek is ice free and fishing should be good. Anglers should do well on Power Bait, Mepps, Panther Martins, and nightcrawlers. Flyfishers will do well on nymphs and emerger patterns


Cave Lake is ice free and fishing has been good for 10 to 12 inch trout. The usual PowerBait or worms as well as small spinners, panther Martins or rooster tails should all work. Approximately 8000 trout have been stocked here over the past two weeks. The water temperature is 43 degrees.


All ice is off the lake. Water temperatures are similar to Cave Lake, sitting around 430F. Although water is no longer leaving the lake, the lake is at capacity. Anglers have been catching quality rainbow trout over 16 inches off a variety of bait, lures, and flies. Anglers should do well on Power Bait, Mepps, Panther Martins, and nightcrawlers. Fly fishers will do well on smaller nymphs and emerger patterns.


All ice is off the lake and the reservoir is sitting at approximately 95% of capacity. Anglers should do well on Power Bait, Mepps, Panther Martins, and nightcrawlers. This time of year fly rodders should be using black or olive wooly buggers as well as chironomids, hare’s ears and PT nymphs.


Streambanks are still very slick with ice and snow and in many areas very muddy. Anglers should be aware that as you approach the streams, the roads often become quite soft and it is easy to get stuck. With this week’s precipitation expect streams to be very turbid and hard to fish. Fishing has been slow in most streams. Fish are lethargic due to the colder temps and presentations must be slowed down. If you do fish the streams large dark presentations will probably work best.

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