Lure of urban ponds snags anglers

Keisei Carlson, 9, is getting this whole casting thing down pretty well, and particularly so considering that it’s the first time he’s ever wielded rod and reel.

On his first official fishing trip, Keisei already is learning the tricky physics of getting a bit of bait plopped down where he wants it. And, in deference to the eternal verities of angling, he’s also learning about patience, even as his little sister, Kurumi, 2, may soon learn how important it is to steer clear upwind of a novice angler’s cast.

Similar outdoor scenes have played out many times and over the course of generations, although this one is taking place on a sunny afternoon at Sunset Park, one of four close-to-home parks — Lorenzi Park, Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs and Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City are the others — where Southern Nevada anglers may enjoy a relaxing day wetting a line.

In fact, for many urban anglers, the busy season is here. Valley urban ponds see “their heaviest use during our cooler months, usually from about the middle of October through early- and mid-April,” said Doug Nielsen, a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife and R-J outdoors columnist.

Cooler temperatures certainly have something to do with that. But there’s also this: During cooler weather — when water temperatures drop to around 60 degrees — the Nevada Department of Wildlife stocks urban ponds with rainbow trout.

Actually, the ponds are stocked year-round. During the spring and summer, the department stocks the urban ponds with catfish, and Nielsen said urban anglers also may find on the end of their lines sunfish, bluegills and at Floyd Lamb, even largemouth bass.

But, he added, “by far the most popular species is the rainbow trout we put in during the winter months. They really attract a lot of use.”

Who are these urban anglers? Urban ponds tend to attract two primary user groups, Nielsen said: younger teenagers and children and, at the other extreme, “those folks who are retired or close to retirement who have some time to spend.”

“What’s interesting is, you’ll actually have a group of regulars that use the same corner and the same pond every time,” he noted. During his own days as a game warden, “I’d patrol to check fishing licenses and limits and all that, and you get to a point where you know a lot of people by name, just because you see them so often.”

Count J.P. Barnes as a fairly new regular. On a recent weekday morning, Barnes was in his favorite spot at one of Floyd Lamb’s ponds — not to give too much away, but it’s shady and near vegetation — enjoying both the fishing and the park’s quiet.

Barnes used to fish a lot back in Dallas. But since moving here eight years ago to work in the construction industry, “I’ve worked nonstop,” he said. “I haven’t hardly had time to take a breath.”

Now, with his job at CityCenter concluded and with a bit of leisure between jobs, Barnes is taking the time to reacquaint himself with the angling arts.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I fished one time at Lake Mead probably about six years ago with a couple of friends of mine, but I had no idea there were these four little ponds here (at Tule Springs).”

Particularly appealing to Barnes is that the park is just a 10-minute drive from his home. This is the third day in a row he has been here, and Barnes said he has landed more than a half-dozen fish so far — today he’s working a piece of hot dog on a No. 4 treble hook — all of which he released.

“I don’t keep them,” he explained. “I don’t want to mess with cleaning them and everything that goes with that.”

Rather, Barnes said, “I come out here to be outdoors. This is a beautiful spot.”

Michael “Woody” Linihan agreed. A Las Vegas native, Linihan has known Floyd Lamb throughout all of its incarnations, even if, as a kid, “my main pond was Lorenzi, when it was called Twin Lakes.”

These days, Linihan is a certified fly casting instructor ( and often uses Floyd Lamb’s ponds for the water instruction part of his classes. Linihan said he still finds it hard to convince anglers that great fishing spots can be found without leaving town.

“I try to convince my own relatives,” he said, “because the trout season is coming up and, for fly fishermen, that’s really kind of our deal, even though I’ve had a really good time catching bluegill and a little bass out here.”

Some of the trout at Floyd Lamb are, Linihan added, “absolutely beautiful.”

Joe Hoerner and his son, Joe Jr., live on the east side of town and have fished urban ponds at Sunset Park and Veterans Memorial Park. Today, they’re making their fourth visit to Floyd Lamb.

“Where else can you kick back and relax and enjoy Mother Nature?” Hoerner said.

“Sometimes we come out here and all we do is drown worms. But we have a good time. I like the peace and the tranquility.”

Across town, at Sunset Park, Joe Lupo is preparing a line. He lives in Henderson and gets out to fish at Sunset Park or Veterans Memorial Park three or four times a month.
Lupo has lived here since 1960. He’s now spending his first year as an airline retiree and said fishing at Sunset Park is “a nice way to pass the time.”

“It’s a nice park, a family park,” he said. “I bring my grandson when he’s in town. It’s a nice place.”

Particularly for families like Keisei Carlson’s. Mom Tomomi Carlson said Keisei learned about fishing through the Boy Scouts. When he wanted to try it himself, Tomomi hit the Internet and found that Sunset offered an accessible locale.

Now, as Keisei works on getting his hook to where he wants it to go, his mom, dad, brother and sister enjoy the park. “He was thinking he could catch fish right away,” Tomomi said, smiling.

Nevada’s three-fish possession limits are enforced at urban ponds (for more information about fishing in Nevada, follow the “Fish Nevada” link from

In addition, fishing licenses are required to fish urban ponds — annual licenses cost $29 for people 16 and older, $13 for youths 12 through 15, and $13 for seniors 65 and older with five years of continuous Nevada residency — and an additional trout stamp, for $10, is required to take or possess trout.

But Nielsen says fishing at urban ponds offers cash-strapped families a fun outing at an affordable price. Kids younger than 12 don’t even need a license, he noted, and starter equipment doesn’t have to be expensive.

“You could go down to a shop and buy a high-end rod alone that’ll cost you over a hundred dollars,” he said. “But guess what? The fish don’t know.”

Really, the only problem with Southern Nevada’s urban ponds is that so many would-be anglers don’t know they’re here. And for those who do, an even bigger problem is that others might find out about them, too.

“I wish I could pay you so you don’t print (this story) because somebody else is going to hole up there,” Barnes said, laughing. “Tell them it’s like a hundred dollars to get in. Tell them J.P. says it’s $100 to get in, and don’t come.”

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@ or 702-383-0280.

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