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Southern Nevada offers anglers surprising array of choices

With the Las Vegas Valley back in full construction mode, we are adding anglers to our community on a regular basis.

If you are among those anglers who have recently joined us or thinking of making the move to Southern Nevada, rest assured there is plenty of fishing opportunity within a reasonable distance of the Las Vegas Valley.

While the valley is in the Mojave Desert, the driest in the country, I wouldn’t recommend that you sell your fishing gear. Though you may have to adjust your gear and tackle to match the waters and fish available to us.

Two of the country’s largest recreational fisheries are located within an hour drive of downtown Las Vegas. Those are Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. Both reservoirs boast healthy populations of three bass species – striped, largemouth and smallmouth – catfish, bluegill and green sunfish. Lake Mead also has a rebounding population of crappie and even gives up the occasional walleye.

Though they are sister reservoirs, Mead and Mohave each have their own personality. Lake Mead is composed of large basins connected by narrow canyons, remnants of the historic Colorado River Channel. Mohave, on the other hand, is long and narrow with only one true basin at about its middle point.

Lake Mead has a reputation for producing large numbers of fish while Lake Mohave is known for giving up large fish.

One of the challenging aspects of fishing these waters is negotiating their rugged shorelines. Though there are some places where you can park and hike in, the terrain is generally formidable and the distance daunting. So, you will want to use approved access roads that will take you as close to the shoreline as possible.

I want to emphasize the approved part of that because the National Park Service takes a dim view of folks who try to build their own roads.

Keep in mind that the water level can and does often change, especially at Lake Mead. That means you need to keep an eye out for muddy areas that can easily swallow your truck tire.

Given the limitations of shoreline access roads, you may want to consider fishing from a boat. Doing so will make the entire reservoir open to you and those who fish with you.

Each of the major marinas at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave offer rental boats. Though not a cheap alternative, it is less expensive than making monthly payments all year and paying for secure storage. I recommend boat pooling with a couple of friends to spread the cost around.

Mead and Mohave are year-round fisheries. Though there are some seasonal slow times, you can find fish all year long. All you really need is the desire and the will. Some of the best striper fishing can be found during the summer and early fall months when the fish are chasing shad near the surface.

When stripers are pushing shad near the surface, their feeding activity creates a surface disturbance that local anglers call striper boils. When those occur, the fishing can be tremendous. I’ve seen anglers catch fish with almost every cast as long as the boil lasts.

Fishing waters the size of Mead and Mohave can be a bit daunting. The key is working the reservoirs a small piece at a time. Keep a record of the places you find fish because you will probably find something in that same vicinity the next time you are out and about. The first fish was there for a reason.

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 are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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