With my attention focused on two boats at the bottom of the Echo Bay launch ramp, I didn’t notice the grizzled angler as he walked up behind me. So his optimistic declaration caught me a little off guard.
“The moon phase is right!” the old angler said emphatically. “We should get into some good fishing today!”
I hoped that would be the case and told him as much. He didn’t stop to chat because his friends were waiting for him at the courtesy dock. It was still early, but almost a dozen empty boat trailers already were lined up in the dirt parking lot. That surprised me, especially since it was Friday.
Then I recalled that the campground was quite full and guessed the trailers belonged to snow birds spending the winter months there or in nearby Moapa Valley. The Overton Arm is a popular winter fishing destination for those visiting from colder climates.
My goal in making the trip to Echo Bay was to catch some crappies. Perhaps I might even reel in a bass or two.
The guys in the power boats turned north as they left the marina. My guess is they were heading to Stewarts Point. Reports are that anglers have been catching stripers at that end of the Overton Arm. Though still fishing with cut anchovies is generally a productive method for catching the line sides in that area, trolling with swimbaits and crankbaits also can be effective.
I also have heard rumors that some folks have found crappie near Stewarts Point recently, but there was no way my kayak was going that far.
Instead, I paddled toward the back of Last Chance Cove, at which the original and current launch ramps are located. That’s where there is a large amount of flooded brush and a number of submerged trees that fish can use for cover. This also is the area where abandoned docks from the old Echo Bay Marina once were located. The docks no longer are there, but I hoped the brush was enough to hold crappies and perhaps the odd bass.
Since crappies tend to group up in the winter months, I figured all I had to do was find the first one, then I could work the immediate area and catch more. A bass would be a bonus.
Along the way, I worked submerged brush and points where I expected to pick up a bass or two but didn’t get so much as a bump. All I came across was a lone carp, and nothing showed up on the fish finder’s screen. Nevertheless, I paddled onward until I reached the back of the cove.
Once there, I picked my way through the brush and trees, casting a variety of baits to every likely looking spot where any normal fisherman would expect to find a fish. But two hours later, I was still fishless.
It was time for Plan B.
One of the places crappies will gather during the colder months is along steep slopes. Luckily, the south side of Last Chance Cove is lined with steep banks and cliff faces. So I worked that area looking for suspended fish. Unfortunately, that also proved to be fruitless. So much for old angler’s optimistic declaration.
Some might consider the day a total loss, but that wasn’t the case. This misadventure gave me the chance to become intimately familiar with Last Chance Cove and the smaller coves that branch off. When the water warms up, I know where to focus my efforts should I fish there again.
The water temperature was 53 degrees when I started out Friday morning but climbed to 57 before I headed for home. So it shouldn’t be long before smallmouth bass move into their prespawn haunts.
Things at Lake Mohave are moving along a little quicker. While paddling near Katherine Landing recently, I found smallmouth bass already stacking up along the north side of rocky-covered points. But I also noticed they couldn’t be found on points that were nearly free of rocky cover. Something to keep in mind as you venture out in the coming weeks.
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 department. Any opinions are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at email@example.com.