weather icon Clear

As ice melts on reservoirs, trout fishing improves

There’s good news for trout anglers who have kept their fishing rods on ice for the winter, so to speak. The hard water covering reservoirs at the Kirch Wildlife Management Area has begun to melt away from the shorelines, leaving open water for anglers willing to brave the cold temperatures.

There have been reports that anglers already have reeled in rainbow trout and even a few crappies.

As has often been the case in recent years, the reservoirs never really developed an ice covering thick enough for safe fishing. Some anglers may have tested their faith the past month or so, but that is not something most people who enjoy living would have done. Especially those who know that reservoirs on the management area are partially fed by warm springs.

The ice could get a brief reprieve this week. Weather forecasts call for overnight temperatures well below the freezing mark. But once the weather turns back to the warm side, it won’t take long for the ice to lose any ground it gains. So it might be a good idea to have your trout rods ready to go when the time comes.

Ice off is considered by many anglers to be the most productive time of year for catching most trout species. In a year where ice-fishing pressure has been relatively low, it could mean that fishing during ice off could be even better than in years with typical winter temperatures and weather patterns.

Trout stocked in the reservoirs last fall have had little to worry about other than eating whatever they could find and growing. And growing is what they do best under the ice in Nevada’s high desert reservoirs.

As ice begins to melt away from the shoreline, it does a couple of things. First, it makes available freshly oxygenated water warmed by the sun and a hardy meal or two. Trout will seek both of those, and any early season invertebrates are a bonus.

Second, the receding layer of ice provides cover where the fish can hide, or at least experience some level of security. Keep in mind they have been under an ice covering for many weeks, so they are used to having something overhead.

When that covering begins to disappear, they are vulnerable to predators from above and will act that way. The fish will hug that ice line like they will a grass bed or other submerged vegetation and use it as cover when they feel threatened.

Early season anglers can use that moving line of cover to their advantage. Work your baits along its edges for fish moving in and out of the cover it provides.

Trout tend to be a little lethargic the first week or two following ice off, so you may want to use baits that require little energy on the part of a trout. Night crawlers, PowerBait or Velveeta Cheese are early season options. The great thing about Velveeta is you can eat it on crackers when fishing is slow. Kind of a two-for-one deal.

You might also try dead-sticking a fly that resembles a small, dark brown or black snail. An occasional twitch along the tule beds might be just enough to goad a fish into biting.

As water temperatures increase, the fish will become more active, and bugs will start moving. This is a good time for moving baits such as lures and spinners.

If you are a hard-water angler, Comins Lake and Eagle Valley Reservoir still have plenty of ice and both are fishing well. So too is Utah’s Panguitch Lake, which produces some excellent catches during the winter.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Input needed on ways to maintain Lake Mead launch ramps

The Park Service is seeking input from the public about maintaining launch ramp access for motorized recreational boaters as low water conditions persist.

Arrows fly in fun at archers’ state outdoor championships

For archers looking to prepare for an upcoming big game hunt, participation in tournaments such as the Outdoor Championships are a good method of honing your skills.

Digital tag-application results lack old-school wallop

We live in a time when everything is going digital. While that has made aspects of our life more convenient, I miss some of the old school ways.

Ice fishing derby on Comins Lake offering cash prizes

Does the possibility of taking home a $5,000 payday enough to cause you to break out your trout rod, some cold weather gear and a comfortable camp chair?

It’s wise to pay attention to fish consumption advisories

The purpose of these advisories is to help people make informed decisions about where to fish or harvest shellfish, says the Environmenal Protection Agency.

Narrow window now open for more hunting in Arizona

A total of six limited-entry permit tags are up for grabs. Two each for elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. The deadline to apply is Friday.

Bird population needs assist from Mother Nature

Couple more than 20 years of drought with two of the driest years on record and you have habitat conditions that have significantly limited bird production.

Infrastructure bill shot in the arm for outdoors

According to several respected conservation organizations, the bill will benefit America’s wildlife and natural resources.