Try Walker Lake for Lahontan cutthroat trout up to four pounds
November 16, 2005
As you may recall from my columns from previous years, the months of November and March are the “Primo” times to fish for Lahontan cutthroat trout at Walker Lake.
Well, it’s the month of November, and if you have a Nevada fishing license with a Nevada Trout Stamp, and if you are interested in catching trout up to four pounds, you had better head for that lake.
The trout fishing out there has been awesome! Particularly for shore fishermen (AKA me!), spincasting in their chest waders.
How to get there
Walker Lake is about 15 miles north of the City of Hawthorne.
To reach it, take U.S. 50 east from Carson City to Silver Springs. At Silver Springs, take Alt. U.S. 95 south to Schurz, via Yerington. At Schurz, continue to travel on U.S. 95 south to the lake.
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Walker River System
Walker Lake is the terminus of the main Walker River, which gathers water from the entire Walker River System. That system includes the East Walker River, West Walker River, West Fork of the West Walker River, Little Walker River, Robinson Creek, Buckeye Creek, Green Creek, Virginia Creek, the Virginia Lakes area, etc.
There are a series of impoundments that gather and hold Walker River water before it can reach the lake. Those impoundments include Bridgeport Reservoir on the East Walker, Topaz Lake on the West Walker and Weber Reservoir on the main Walker River.
Declining water level
Because of the combination of those water impoundments, upstream water rights for ranching in the Greater Yerington area and less-than-normal precipitation, the water level at Walker Lake has been steadily dropping over the years.
During those years, the salinity has been steadily increasing, as there is no outlet for that lake.
As a result of that decline in water level and the increase in mineral content, only two types of fish species are found in that lake: The Lahontan cutthroat trout and its prey, the Tui-Chub.
The Walker Lake fishing season is open year-round with a limit of five trout and there are no size restrictions.
When to fish
Your best chance of catching the trout is in the very early morning hours. Get up at “Oh Dark Thirty!”
Fishing success will normally dramatically drop off by about 10:30 a.m. Don’t say that you weren’t forewarned.
Catch and release
If you catch lots of fish, practice “catch and release” fishing.
Practice “airless” catch and release, which keeps the trout in the water, while releasing it.
Remember to pinch the barbs, back, on your lures to make it easier to release the fish, unharmed.
How to fish
From shore, in chest waders, a float tube or from a boat.
You can spincast, fly fish, bait fish, jig or troll.
Shore fishing is currently best at the far north end of the lake, just west of the boundary fence of the Schurz Indian Reservation.
Special Note: If you fish east of the boundary fence, you will need a tribal fishing permit.
Use No. 2 TOR-P-DO lures such as green/black dot, Fire Tiger, rainbow, or yellow/black dot.
Fish with red Salmon eggs, nightcrawlers or Power Bait.
Try dark colored Woolly Worm or Woolly Bugger flies.
There is no fee for launching your boat at the Sportsmen’s Beach Boat Ramp. However, be cautious launching a medium-large sized boat at this location, because of the low water level.
There is a another boat launch at the south end of “The Cliffs,” near the “Buffalo Stop.”
Where to troll
In front of the Sportsman’s Beach boat ramp or between the boat ramp area and Sand Point or from Sand Point to the north end.
What to troll
Use average-sized, silver-colored flasher blades such as Ford Fenders or Herring Dodgers in combination with:
No. 2 or No. 3 TOR-P-DO or U-20 Flatfish or Rapala or Apex lures.
Follow these tips and it should be great fishing at Walker Lake.
And, before I forget to say so: Happy Thanksgiving!
n Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon he can’t tell you about the best day Elaine and I have had at Walker Lake.
If he grins and says, it was the day, last year, when they caught and released 44 cutthroat trout between 8:15 a.m. and noon,” he could have been there as one of our envious fishing partners.
n Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.