Transition zone key source for fruitful summer fishing

When we launched Roger’s boat, the sun had yet to clear the mountains on the Gold Butte side of Lake Mead’s Overton Arm, but it was already warm. One thing was certain, it was going to get only hotter as the sun continued to rise.

After leaving Echo Bay Marina, we traveled north until we reached the place where waters of the Muddy River and the Virgin River mixed together to form a kind of murky broth complete with froth on top. We started by fishing the edge of the froth and from there worked our way south. We were in search of striped bass and whatever else might take the bait.

Eventually we came upon a large sandbar. Though mostly submerged, the sandbar offered an inviting edge, and we began trolling west to east along its northern side. As we reached the eastern end, Roger steered the boat through a wide right turn to accommodate the swim baits we were trolling behind us. As we passed over the transition zone, the place where the shallows gave way to the darkness of deeper water, my fishing rod’s tip suddenly bowed hard toward the boat’s stern. I grabbed the rod, set the hook and reeled in a plump striper.

Thinking if it worked once why not try it again, we did so. And our efforts were rewarded with a couple of more fish.

According to Toby Chandler, tournament director for the Nevada Striper Club, there were two primary reasons the fish we caught were in that transition zone: food and heat.

With the arrival of summer temperatures, striped bass tend to spend the daytime hours in deep water where it is cooler and then move into shallow water at night in order to feed on bait fish as they also make their move from deep water to the shallows. Chandler recommends fishing just after dark and just before sunrise when that transition takes place.

As the temperature grew hotter, the action along the sandbar cooled off as the stripers made their way back to deeper water. This necessitated a change in our approach, so we too headed for deeper water where we dropped anchor and switched to rods rigged for bait fishing rather than trolling. After chumming the water with chunks of anchovies and sardines, we baited up with cut anchovies and threw in our lines. It wasn’t long before the catching resumed.

For warm-weather fishing, Chandler recommends working points and the mouths of coves where the water is 60 to 100 feet deep. “Areas like 33 Hole, Government Wash and the channel marker near it,” he said. The areas “from Government all the way to Sand Island are producing fish deeper now that the water levels are dropping. Crawdad Cove is hit or miss but worth a check.”

Summer is also the time of year when striped bass move into the beach area just north of the Hemenway launch ramp. While working as a game warden, I used to check anglers who found good fishing along the buoy line. Bait fishing and trolling both will yield fish, but as the summer progresses anglers might have the opportunity to fish the occasional striper boil with top-water lures, such as a Zara Spook. Early morning and late evening always were the most productive, though fish can be caught at other times as well.

Other seasonal areas for striped bass include Kingman Wash, the Overton arm both north and south of Echo Bay and Gregg Basin above Temple Bar.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at