Time to Get Reel
Every mode of fishing is on trend in Nevada.
For the driest state in the U.S., Nevada’s fishing opportunities are surprisingly numerous. Lakes, creeks, rivers, streams, ponds, and reservoirs are teeming with dozens of finned wildlife species. No matter the season or style, we’ve got what you need to hook a great time.
For the hearty angler, there’s no reason to stop casting a line when winter hits. Many high-desert alpine lakes and reservoirs freeze over, making for excellent ice fishing.
At Wildhorse Reservoir State Park north of Elko, temperatures have been known to get to 20 degrees below zero (and lower), but that doesn’t stop diehards. Look for rainbow trout, German brown trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and catfish. South Fork State Recreation Area south of Elko near Spring Creek is known for its trophy-sized rainbow, brown, and bowcutt trout—along with catfish and bass.
Picture this poetic scene: fly fishing in a pristine mountain stream as the sun smiles down. Each cast is artistic, and nearly every flick of the line leads to a plump trout on the other end.
That is not what fly fishing is like at all.
Fly fishing is dirty, awkward, and can be indescribably frustrating at times. Want to wade out to the perfect spot? Have fun falling in the river. Have a fish on the line and want to get it into the net? Watch it break free and swim away.
But the beauty of fly fishing is that it allows access to all types of fishable waters. It would be near impossible to lure or bait fish most places in a small mountain creek, but fly fishing is possible in almost any water—tiny creeks, large rivers such as the Humboldt and Truckee, and even lakes. In fact, at Pyramid Lake, fly anglers are known for placing ladders and step stools a couple dozen yards out into the lake to get closer to the fish.
The lightweight Tenkara fly rod is made for anglers on the move. With no reel, these super portable rods are perfect for any small creek or river you might come across while exploring. In fact, Tenkara fishing has helped popularize trends like hikefishing and bikefishing. These rods tend to be quite long, and the line is about equal length, making this Japanese style of fishing similar to fly fishing but with elegant differences.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife claims there are some 600 rivers and streams spread across the state. With so many possibilities and relatively scant equipment needed (don’t forget a license) anyone can give fishing a shot. Just remember to practice patience, and never forget: “The worst day fishing is always better than the best day working.”
LIVE LIKE A LOCAL
A few of our favorite locations for all anglers
1. Martin Creek
Located near Paradise Valley, the 48-mile Martin Creek holds brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and bowcutt (rainbow-cutthroat hybrid) trout and offers seasonal fishing dependent on snowpack. Nymph and dry flies mimicking local insects are a good bet.
2. Jarbidge River
The remote Jarbidge River is special because it is home to three of Nevada’s native fish: redband trout, mountain whitefish, and the endangered bull trout. This is the only location for the bull trout in Nevada, and fishing is strictly catch and release.
3. Sunset Park Pond
Located in the heart of Las Vegas, you’ll find 14 surface acres of water with a maximum depth of 12 feet. Fishable species include rainbow trout, channel catfish, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie, and largemouth bass. Fly fishermen report success with emergers.
4. Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area
Nevada’s southernmost state park has a vast swath of fishable shoreline. Species include striped bass, small and largemouth bass, channel catfish, rainbow trout, bluegill, and redear sunfish.
5. Echo Canyon State Park
About 20 minutes east of Pioche, the reservoir offers boat and shore fishing at the mouth of the scenic Echo Canyon. Gamefish include rainbow trout, brown trout, white crappie, largemouth bass, and black bullhead.
6. Beaver Dam State Park
This eastern Nevada treasure offers a host of small-stream fishing opportunities. The waters are stocked with rainbow trout, but because the streams are so small, the fish are skittish when they see an angler. This is the perfect place to use the Tenkara rod: try sneaking up on the small streams and bouncing a dry fly along the surface of the water.
7. Walker River State Recreation Area
The east fork of the Walker River is one of the best fly-fishing rivers in the state, and most of it is located within the Walker River State Recreation Area. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and mountain whitefish spawn in the river and can be fished with all different methods. The Elbow is a great place to start.
8. Squaw Creek Reservoir
Located northwest of Gerlach, Squaw Creek Reservoir is a popular destination for anglers of all methods. The gamefish selection is vast, including largemouth bass, green sunfish, bullhead, channel catfish, rainbow trout, brown trout, and bowcutt trout. Float tubes are a popular method for fishing the reservoir.
Want more information on how to recreate responsibly? Click here!