A suggestion on where to fish at this time of the year
By Don Quilici
Mother Nature has decided that it’s now time for Old Man Winter to be in this area and with that particular decision, she has really put a heck of a damper on many outdoor activities, especially fishing.
Unless you are a super-die-hard angler, you can pretty much kiss good-bye to fishing at the higher elevations waters because of the snow and ice.
In fact, a number of our high-altitude lakes are already frozen over and it’s only early November!
But, for those of you who mistakenly believe that local area trout fishing has come to a grinding halt, you had better re-think that thought.
Believe it or not, this is one of the best times of the year to enjoy quality trout fishing at a location not too far away.
That location is Walker Lake, which offers great fishing opportunities for Lahontan cutthroat trout.
So, if you’ve never taken the time to fish there, here is some information that should prove useful on your first trip:
To reach the lake, Don Q style:
Take U.S. 50 east from Carson City to the Ramsey-Week’s Cutoff, just before Silver Springs.
Take that cutoff to the stop sign at its intersection with U.S. Alt. 95.
Take U.S. At. 95 toward Yerington.
You will drive over the bridge on the Carson River at Weeks, over the railroad tracks at Wabuska and continue until you go past a paved road on your right that takes you to the Indian Reservation.
Just past that intersection, look for a paved road on your left that takes you to the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area.
Take that road.
Stay on the road, drive past the entrance to the Management Area, go around a sharp corner to the right and keep going until you come to a stop sign (There will be a little white house, directly in front of you.)
Turn left at that stop sign, drive past the gun club and follow the road to its intersection with U.S. Alt 95.
Turn left onto U.S. Alt 95, and drive toward Schurz.
When you reach the intersection of your highway and U.S. 95 near Schurz, turn to the right and head for Hawthorne.
After about twenty miles on U.S. 95, that great, big, blue thing on your left will be Walker Lake.
This is about a 100 mile, 2-2.5 hour drive from Carson City, dependent on how fast you drive (It takes me less than two hours in my little pickup!)
A little bit of historical trivia:
Walker Lake is one of two remnants (Pyramid Lake being the other one) of a vast pre-historic lake, once known as Lake Lahontan.
That monster-sized lake stretched from the Sierra Nevada, west of Carson City, all the way east to the Wasatch Mountains, located near Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, that is what I would call a one, big body of water!
The Walker River System:
Walker Lake is the terminus of the main Walker River, which gathers water from the entire Walker River System, which includes all of the backcountry lakes and streams that flow into the East Walker River, the West Walker River, the West Fork of the West Walker River, the Little Walker River, Robinson Creek, Buckeye Creek, Green Creek, Virginia Creek and the Virginia Lakes area.
Walker Lake’s declining water level:
Because of the combination of upstream impoundments (Bridgeport Reservoir on the East Walker River, Topaz Lake on the West Walker River and Weber Reservoir on the main Walker River) and upstream water rights for ranching in the Greater Yerington area and our continuing, less-than-normal precipitation conditions, the water level at Walker Lake has been steadily dropping over the years. At the same time, the salinity in Walker Lake has been steadily increasing, as there is no outlet for that lake.
Its fish species:
As a result of that steady decline in water level and the steady increase in mineral content, today, there are only two types of fish species found in that lake: The Lahontan cutthroat trout and its prey species, the Tui-Chub.
Currently and sadly, even those two species are in danger of dying out due to the steadily increasing salinity.
The best time to fish:
Surprisingly, November is one of two months (the other being March) when fishing is rated as very good to excellent.
The fishing season is open year-round with a limit of five trout and there are no size restrictions or slot limits.
When to fish:
Your best chance of catching trout is in the morning hours, as fishing success normally drops off at about 10:30-11 a.m.
Where to fish:
At Sand Point, or at Sportsmen’s Beach, or in front of “The Cliffs,” or on the far south end of the lake or way over on the east side.
Special Note: If you fish from shore on the north end, you will need a Schurz Indian Reservation tribal fishing permit.
If you spincast:
Use lures such as No. 2 TOR-P-DO’s in colors like yellow/black dot, Chartreuse/black dot, rainbow, Fire Tiger or bronze/orange striped.
If you bait fish:
Fish on the bottom or floating just off the bottom with salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or different colors of Power Bait.
If you are a fly fisherman:
Try dark colored Woolly Worm or Woolly Bugger flies, along the bottom.
If you have a boat:
There is no fee for launching your boat at the Sportsmen’s Beach Boat Ramp.
Troll at a depth of about 25-45 feet in water that is about 55-80 feet deep. The cutthroat are usually suspended at those depths, waiting to prey on the schools of Tui Chub, when they come along.
Troll in front of the Sportsman’s Beach boat ramp or between the boat ramp area and Sand Point or in the deep-water area in front of the “Cliffs.”
Use silver-colored flasher blades such as Ford Fenders or Herring Dodgers in combination with various lures, such as No. 2 or No. 3 TOR-P-DO’s or No. 5 or No. 7 Rapalas (Count Down) or pearl-colored U-20 Flatfish or Apex.
Follow those tips and you should have a “Ton of Fun” fishing at Walker Lake.
It sure beats staying home and being a “Couch Potato” all weekend.
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you the manner in which Elaine and I have had our best success at Walker Lake at this time of the year.
If he grins and says, “Last year, they were standing in the water in their chest waders, spincasting yellow/black dot, No. 2 TOR-P-DO lures and they caught a total of 44 fish between 8:15 a.m. and noon,” he could be one of my envious, regular fishing partners.