Fishing new areas can prove beneficial

Having served several years as a game warden on Lake Mead, I’ve come to believe the old adage that people are creatures of habit, especially sportsmen and sportswomen.

Each of us has our favorite places to camp, hunt or fish, and we generally don’t like to go anywhere new. In the end, our reluctance to change might result in lost opportunity.

Consider boaters and anglers who recreate at Lake Mead. An aerial survey of their activities on any given weekend will show that most of them focus their efforts in the lake’s Boulder Basin, that portion closest to the Las Vegas Valley. A few might venture uplake through the Narrows into the lower Virgin Basin, but most of them will never venture farther. That leaves the rest of Lake Mead to those who are willing to travel a bit longer.

Randy Hegg, a Las Vegas resident, prefers to fish the Overton Arm of Lake Mead for that reason.

“It’s the best place I’ve been to. I always have fun out there,” Hegg said. “It seems like the other end of the lake you get the person who goes out and buys a boat that hasn’t had one before, or jet skiers that just go nuts out there. Stuff like that. You don’t seem to get that (in the Overton arm) because they don’t want to take that extra little bit of time to go up to the other end.”

To top things off, Hegg thinks the boaters who use the Overton Arm are more seasoned boat operators and generally more courteous than those who use the more crowded Boulder Basin.

Another reason Hegg prefers the Overton Arm to “the other end of the lake” is the fishing. A devoted striped bass fisherman, Hegg reeled in a 30-pound lunker in January while trolling with a Lucky Craft lure.

“I had been trying for years to get one in, and I finally got one in,” he said.

Though he would rather catch stripers and catfish, Hegg said there are plenty of largemouth and smallmouth bass available, too.

“I’ve trolled and got too close to the shore a few times and got some pretty big largemouth bass, but all of a sudden I’m catching a bunch of smallmouth out there. It seems like the smallmouth population is getting pretty big out there,” Hegg said.

For shore anglers venturing into the Overton Arm, Hegg said all you need to do to catch fish is “put an anchovy, put whatever on and throw it out there. I have never had a bad day fishing out there, even when the weather is nasty. If you get behind a cove or something, they are there pretty much.”

When fishing from a boat, Hegg usually trolls a variety of lures, but said other anglers he has befriended use a wide variety of techniques. Some use downriggers when trolling; he prefers to use lures designed to run at various depths. The key to success, he said, is finding balls of baitfish. He recommends using a fish finder to help with that sometimes difficult task.

While most of us would do our best to keep a place like the Overton Arm to ourselves, Hegg is more generous and would like to see more people take advantage of the opportunities the area offers.

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 intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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