Fishing at Walker Lake is a challenge for a number of reasons
Those of you who are faithful readers of the Outdoor Page will have noticed that during the past few months, my primary fishing interest has shifted from the waters of the High Sierra of California to trolling from a boat at Walker Lake.
That huge, desert lake is located along U.S. 95, just north of Hawthorne.
It contains an excellent population of Lahontan cutthroat trout, which can run up to about 10 pounds in weight.
That’s not too shabby!
And especially, if you’re lucky enough to tie into one of those big brutes.
So far this year, my two largest Walker Lake cutthroat checked in at 7.73 pounds and 6.82 pounds, which are a very respectful size for a trout, anywhere.
However on two different occasions, something huge snapped my 6-pound test as if it were kitchen twine. Whatever it was, it certainly was huge.
If you’ve never fished at Walker Lake, it can be challenging for a number of reasons and here’s why:
– First, there is the distance you need to travel to reach it.
It is a two-hour drive (one-way) towing a boat from Carson City to reach the boat ramp at Sportsmen’s Beach. Then, it is another two hour drive to return home. So for the day, you have an investment of four hours in just travel time.
– Then, on your trip to Walker Lake, you are traveling “almost blind” in regards to the weather.
For you see, you have no idea of what the wind is doing until you have driven most of that 100 mile distance from Carson City. It is absolutely heartbreaking to come over that last rise, see the lake for the first time and have it covered with white-caps. Occasionally, you will invest four hours of travel time and the money for gasoline just for the long ride, because the wind will be blowing too hard to venture out onto the lake.
– Then assuming that you have driven the two hours to the lake and that the wind is not blowing, the next challenge is where in the heck to fish.
During the period of time from early September to late May, the fish are found in various parts of the lake.
In September, October and into November, the trout will normally be in the deep water along the west side of the lake. They will be concentrated in front of “The Cliffs” or in an area between Sand Point and Rock Point. In these areas, you will need to fish at a depth of about 40-50 feet with downriggers.
Then, beginning in November and extending into February, the trout will scatter toward the south and can found in other places like the old State Park area, in front of the town of Walker and even as far south as in the Buoy Line area. They will be in shallower water and can be caught at a depth of about 15-25 feet.
Finally, during the months of March, April and May, the cutthroat will normally be found in large numbers way over on the east side of the lake. They will in water that is only 5-10 feet deep.
Beginning in June, the weather will become miserably hot and it will stay uncomfortably warm until late-summer/early fall. During that time, you would be well advised to forget Walker Lake and fish the waters of the much cooler High Sierra of California.
– Once you figure out where to fish, then your next challenge is to figure out what type of lure to use.
This has been my experience:
In September-November, the hot ticket item is a large, silver-colored Kwikfish lure or a large, silver, U-20 Flatfish lure.
In November-February, that hot ticket item becomes a yellow/black dot or bronze/orange or Chartreuse/black dot, No. 2 Tor-P-Do lure. The trout could care less about silver-colored lures. You might as well leave them at home.
In March-May, you can score with those same Tor-P-Do lures and light colored lures such as smaller sized Kwikfish or Flatfish lures.
– Finally, if the fish gods are smiling down on you, the weather cooperates, you have the right type and color of lure, you are trolling at the proper depth and the Lahontan cutthroat trout are at that particular location and they are hungry, you can have a “ton of fun.”
Especially if you have a Nevada Second Rod Stamp on your fishing license which enables you to fish with two fishing poles at the same time.
I have that Nevada Second Rod Stamp on my license.
Last year, on one memorable trip at Walker Lake with Bud Higgins of Douglas County, I hit the jackpot by fishing with two poles simultaneously.
On four different occasions, I had two fish on at the same time!
And, guess what? I caught and released all eight trout. But, boy oh boy, was it ever hectic. I was as busy as a cage full of monkeys with one banana.
On one occasion, Higgins and I had four fish on at the same time. It really got hectic on that boat.
Walker Lake – a great location for trout fishing during the winter months.
For information, call Bob Tompkins at the Gun and Tackle Store in Hawthorne at (775) 945-3266.
– Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t name all the fish found in Walker Lake.
If he grins and say, “There are two main species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout and its prey, the Tui Chub,” you need a new pigeon.