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Joe's Fishing Hole: Trout getting ready to sprout

Courtesy of
The Elko Daily Free Press

I don’t believe the groundhog’s prediction of six more weeks of winter, at least in Elko. The warm, dry weather continues and the ice at area reservoirs is disappearing rapidly — except at Wildhorse, which is still holding at about nine inches of ice with a couple of inches of snow on top.

If you are a hard water angler the only safe ice left is at Wildhorse and with the predicted warmer weather it may not last more than a couple of weeks, so you better get out while the gettin’ is good.

That being said, this week I got to do one of my favorite jobs: delivering trout eggs to schools for the Trout in the Classroom program that the Nevada Department of Wildlife puts on for schools all around the state.

For the past few years I have had the fun to deliver eggs to classrooms in White Pine, Eureka and Lander counties. This week I got to hit the elementary schools in Elko and it was great to see youngsters I knew and work with some of the teachers who have been in the program since its inception in Elko.

TIC is a program where NDOW provides aquariums and chillers that keep the water chilled to a cool temperature that trout like. Eyed trout eggs are delivered to the classrooms for the students to raise to fry and then release in area waters.

This program is tied to state educational standards that teachers can use in all areas including math, science, English, social studies and art. Students learn what the eggs need to hatch and grow as well as the life cycle of trout. They measure and chart such things as water temperature, pH and total dissolved solids in the water. NDOW also comes around to answer questions the students may have and for those brave teachers will even help the students dissect trout!

This is one of my favorite programs and it is free to teachers who want to participate. Go to NDOW’s FaceBook page to follow the progression of the trout the students are raising. Eggs should start hatching next week and the fry will be released sometime in early to mid-March.


Wildhorse still has approximately nine inches of good ice with a couple of inches of crusty snow on top as of Jan. 31. Fishing has picked up a bit with the addition of the snow, but with the predicted warmer temperatures the snow may soon start disappearing, making the surface slick again. The Hendricks Arm is still the best fishing, though fish are being caught in Penrod, near Goose Island and off of the state park. As a general rule, anglers should find trout in six to 10 feet of water this time of year, so you don’t need to head to the middle. Depending upon the day, trout fishing has ranged from slow to good in eight to 10 feet of water fishing halfway down in the water column. For the most part, the fish are averaging 15 to 20 inches in length. Garlic flavored PowerBait or PowerEggs have been working well. Anglers should get out while they can as the warmer temperatures forecast for the next 10 days may start to weaken the ice.

South Fork Reservoir

South Fork is almost completely ice free. Fishing has picked up a bit, but is still just fair. One angler reports catching two fish in the main boat ramp cove that measured between 22 and 24 inches and very fat. He was fishing with hares ears and along the edges of what little ice is remaining. 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 used with a slip sinker off of the bottom about 25-30 feet from shore seemed to work for bait anglers.


Jiggs is ice free and anglers should be able to catch fish using the same methods and presentations as at South Fork. Expect fishing to be better as the day warms up a bit and if there is a slight breeze putting a ripple on the surface of the lake. Small spinners, nightcrawlers or PowerBait should work for spin fisherman, while small wooly buggers, hares ears, prince nymphs, copper Johns and chironomids should be productive for fly rodders.


No recent report, but expect a rutted road to get there and open water once you do. Fishing conditions here historically mirror South Fork, though the fish aren’t as big.


Fishing has been good here with a 10-plus pound tiger trout being taken earlier this week by a fly fisherman. Small spinners and minnow imitations were producing some fish for spin fishermen, but fly rodders are doing better. Fly rodders should be using hare’s ears, pheasant tails, prince nymphs, midge patterns, eggs and egg sucking leeches. When all else fails and the fish are laughing at you try a fly that you would never fish here. Sometimes something they haven’t seen before will trigger them to strike. The fish are moving, so if you don’t have much luck in one area, pack up and hit another. Many anglers overlook the ponds at the south end of the refuge along the White Pine County line. They do hold some nice fish so give them a chance if the ditch isn’t producing. Harrison Pass is open.


Jakes Creek Reservoir is about 70 percent open water. No indication anyone is fishing it. Dark presentations often work here. Dark colored spinners, minnow imitations (with a light underbelly), wooly buggers and nymphs. As with all of our high desert reservoirs, chironomids make up a large portion of the trout’s diet in the spring.


Cave Lake has unsafe ice and some open water for fishing. Expect good fishing for 10-12 inch fish using worms, PowerBait and small spinners.


There is plenty of open water for fishing and the ice on the lake should be considered unsafe. Anglers have had good luck using nightcrawlers catching fish ranging from 12 to 19 inches. PowerBait should also work. Small spinners retrieved slowly should also work. Fly fishermen should use wooly buggers, damselfly nymphs, prince nymphs, copper Johns and hares ears.

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