Saturday, Feb. 10 is the opening day of the fishing season at the Ft. Churchill Cooling Ponds in Lyon County, and all applicable waters (Bass Pond, Beaver Slough, Crappie Pond, Hinkson Slough, North Pond and the Walker River) at the Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area (MVWMA), also in Lyon County. All of these waters will close on Sept. 30.
Latest Water Conditions:
Ft. Churchill is ice free.
Hinkson Slough is ice free.
North Pond is open but has some ice. You can launch boats.
Bass and Crappie Ponds are still frozen and are unfishable.
Fishermen should call Area Manager Pat Kelly at (775) 463-2741 to get the latest water conditions.
Ft. Churchill Cooling Ponds:
How to get there: Drive east on U.S. 50 to Silver Springs. Take Alt. U.S. 95 south toward Yerington. One mile past Wabuska will be Sierra Way, a paved road on your left. Take Sierra Way east to the cooling ponds.
You can only fish from the shoreline. Wading or the use of boats or other floating devices is prohibited. Fishing is prohibited from the center dike and posted areas.
The limit is 15 game fish, of which not more than 2 may be black bass. Minimum size for black bass is 14 inches.
Fishing hours are one hour before sunrise to two hours after sunset.
This is a warm water fishery that produces good numbers of catfish and largemouth bass. Because the water is warm compared to other waters at this time of the year, bass fishing can be very good here, even early in the season.
Channel Catfish run 8-14 inches in length and can be caught with worms, chicken liver, shrimp or some of the prepared baits.
This water is owned by Sierra Pacific Power Company and is open to the public through an agreement between NDOW and the power company.
How to get there: Take the first dirt road on your right, before reaching the Fort Churchill Cooling Ponds parking area. Drive south on that dirt road to the Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area Headquarters Building.
At the headquarters, there will be a large information board, with a map directing you to those other waters.
Fishing hours are any hour of the day or night.
The limit for all waters except Hinkson Slough is 5 trout and 15 warmwater game fish, of which not more than 2 may be black bass. Minimum size for black bass is 14 inches.
At Hinkson Slough, the limit is 2 trout and 15 warmwater game fish of which not more than 2 may be black bass. Minimum size for trout is 16 inches and minimum size for black bass is 14 inches. Artificial flies or lures only.
This pond can produce some very good largemouth bass fishing when temperatures start to warm.
The pond can become quite weedy later in the summer, so it would be wise to test these waters early, before the weeds starts.
This pond has only largemouth bass. In spite of its small size, this pond has some good-sized bass and typically starts to produce good fishing action by mid-April.
A total of 2,060 rainbow trout averaging 10.7 inches in length were planted in Hinkson Slough last September. That water was scheduled to receive another plant of 1,500 10-inch fish before the start of the season.
Electro shocking work done by NDOW biologists last October turned up trout up to 19 inches in length, so there should be some nice fish in the Slough this year.
This water is also home to some very nice largemouth bass and Bluegill that fishermen should consider when water temps warm up.
Special Note: NDOW purchased and planted 200 grass carp in Hinkson Slough last year in an effort to control the weed growth in this pond, so don't be alarmed if you see some large carp in the pond. Fishermen are requested to return these fish, unharmed, to the water should they be caught.
A total of 10,033 small trout (3.1 inches) were planted back in December, and another plant of about 4,000 ten-inch fish was scheduled for prior to the opener.
The largemouth bass fishery is starting to rebuild in this pond. You should do well when water temperatures warm up this spring.
Call the Nevada Department of Wildlife at 688-1500 in Reno during regular business hours.
-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you what fish are found in the Ft. Churchill Cooling Ponds.
If he grins and says, " Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Bluegill and Redear Sunfish," you just lost this bet.
-- Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.