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Joe's Fishing Hole: Surface temps are dropping
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Joe’s Fishing Hole

Joe's Fishing Hole: Surface temps are dropping

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Daytime highs are finally starting to cool down with temperatures over the next week ranging from the mid 70s to the mid 80s and overnight lows mostly in the low 40s. Unfortunately, no precipitation to speak of and the smoke from the California and Oregon fires keeps on coming. Pray for rain.

The cooler temperatures and shorter days means that the surface water temperatures are finally dropping. Reservoir surface temperatures are still in the low 70s range but some are dipping into the mid to high 60s. Prime trout temperatures are between 56 and 64 degrees, so look for those when fishing. But where to find them?

In our lakes and reservoirs, look for streams coming in, springs and shady banks. Thermodynamics also tell us that dark, rocky lake bottoms collect more heat than light colored, sandy bottoms. While it may sound odd, the northern shorelines are often warmer than south shorelines as they get more direct sunlight during the heat of the day and late afternoons — especially as the sun starts to get lower in the sky this time of year.

Bass, on the other hand, like warmer water, so anglers should go in the opposite direction of trout anglers. Look for darker bottoms that warm up when the sun hits them and fish the northern banks that have a southern exposure getting more sunlight during the shorter days.

Next week we will discuss how food plays just as important — if not more important — part as temperature in finding bass and trout.


Surface water temperatures are starting to drop into the 60s but there is still algae discoloring the water. A good freeze may help kill the algae off, but that isn’t in the immediate forecast. Trout fishing is picking up for shore anglers, especially early in the day. Fishing for perch ranges from good to very good, both from shore and from boats, while fishing for trout is fair to good. Bass fishing is still good for numbers but fair for size. The usual PowerBait and worms for bait anglers have been working for trout. Boaters don’t have to go quite as deep for trout. For fly fishermen midge larva, hares ears, and PT nymphs are good patterns to use under an indicator. Black or olive wooly and crystal buggers are taking fish as well if you can get them deep enough. Don’t forget balanced leeches under an indicator, especially if there is a chop on the water. Most anglers are fishing Penrod and Hendricks Arms as well as the south end of the lake. Target perch in just about any cove with some vegetation. Fishing below the dam is still good using hoppers and other dry fly patterns as well as streamers. Anglers may keep one black bass 15-inches or longer. The campground is open and is on a first come first served basis but is limited to 50% of capacity. Tribal land around the lake is open to camping.

South Fork reservoir

Fishing for trout has been fair, while bass fishing has been fair to good. Surface water temperatures are in the low 70s and will soon hit the high 60s if they haven’t already done so. Aquatic weeds and algae are still present. Boaters are doing better than shore anglers. Fly fishermen fishing chironomids (midge larvae) or small nymphs in black or red under an indicator are finding some success. Fishing snowcones and midge larva a foot off the bottom in about 10 feet of water is still working. Most of the trout being caught from shore have been in the deeper coves, along Jet Ski Beach, Coyote Cove and by the dam. Expect them to start moving into shallower water over the next few weeks. Bass fishing has been good for both smallmouth and largemouth using soft plastic baits in dark colors. Fishing below the dam in the river has been slow. Some smallmouth bass are still in the river upstream of the reservoir and they can be taken with crankbaits, soft plastics and dry flies like hoppers, Chernobyl ants and yellow stimulators. The state park campground is open at 50% of capacity.

Jiggs/zunino reservoir

The water level is very low and warm. These conditions resulted in a die-off of trout so expect trout fishing to be very poor or even nonexistent for the rest of the year. Bluegill fishing is fair. If you catch a trout and release it, while it may swim away, chances are it won’t survive the stress of being caught in very warm water, so please keep them. An occasional small bass being caught has been reported.


The water level is average for this time of year, but weeds and algae are still present. Fishing is fair for 12 to 15-inch trout and fair to good for bass. Just like other reservoirs, the trout are starting to move up a bit in the water column, but still holding around 10 feet. Fishing in the canyon by the dam has been fair to good for trout. Black leeches have been working for trout, but also have been very good for bass. For the most part, the same presentations that are used at South Fork, should work here.

Ruby Lake NWR

The water level is very low and weeds are coming on strong, but you can still launch a boat at the main boat landing. However, launching anything but a canoe or kayak at the Narciss boat launch is not recommended. Bass fishing is good for numbers and fair to good for keepers, though the catch rate is starting to drop off with the cooler water temperatures. Get out for bass fishing here while you can. It will start to drop off quickly. The best tactic seems to be four-inch soft plastic jigs rigged weedless. Dark colors such as black, blue, motor oil and guacamole with flashy flakes in them seem to work the best. Poppers on a quiet evening or morning with no wind as the shadows are hitting the water along the cattail edges are also working. With low water conditions and lots of weeds, fishing is fair at the collection ditch for 13 to 18-inch trout, with the occasional large trout being taken. Small brightly colored spinners were doing well. Trout are taking dries including damselfly adults, hoppers, yellow stimulators and elk hair caddis. Yellow seems to be the key. Other flies working include the usual small nymphs such as PT’s, hares ears, olive soft hackles, red or blue copper Johns and prince nymphs. Wooly and crystal buggers in black, purple or olive are also working. In the crystal, clear water of the collection ditch, if you can see the fish, they can see you. Go low, slow and wear drab clothing.

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Little or no change here. The water level is down due to irrigation, but normal for this time of year and with the weed growth, fishing from shore is difficult. Anglers should plan on fishing from a small boat or float tube and cast back towards the weeds for bass but hit the deeper water for trout. Trout fishing is slow while bass fishing is fair to good. The usual PowerBait and worms as well as small spinners are working for trout. Fly rodders should be using chironomids, hares ears, PT nymphs, copper Johns, and black or olive wooly buggers. Bass are hitting soft plastics, crankbaits and occasionally poppers first thing in the morning or late in the evening.


The water level is very low and fishing is fair to good for both trout and bass. Best times seem to be early morning here. Worms, PowerBait, small spinners and flies should all work if the fish are cooperating. Small dark colored dry flies first thing in the morning are working. Griffith’s gnats, black gnats, black Adams and ant patterns should be tried.


Fishing at Cave Lake has been fair to good for eight to 10-inch trout, but the water level is low from a drawdown due to concerns with the dam. The shorelines are still muddy and soft making walking and fishing difficult. The usual small nymphs and crystal buggers are working for trout, with beadhead pheasant tail nymphs being very effective. For bait anglers, fishing a worm about four feet below a bobber or using powerbait floated off the bottom with a slip sinker seems to be the best bets. The float tube launching area is closed and anglers should fish at the north end of the lake near the dam and main boat launch area.


Comins Lake has water temperatures in the low 70s with both trout and bass fishing being fair to good. Trout fishing is best first thing in the morning and late evening. Fly fisherman should use wooly buggers, leech patterns, and nymphs patterns (midges, beaded pheasant tails…etc.) fished under an indicator. Bass fishing is good and anglers are reporting decent sized bass using soft plastics, crankbaits and poppers on quiet evenings and mornings. If you catch a pike, please check to see if it has a radio transmitter tag near the tail. If it does, please return the fish to the water so that NDOW biologists can track its movements. If it doesn’t have the transmitter tag, please humanely dispatch the fish. Don’t put it back in the lake.


Water surface temperatures are dropping into the high 60’s and trout fishing is starting to pick up. Boaters are doing better than shore anglers. The usual flies like wooly buggers, prince nymphs, hares ears and chironomid patterns should all work. Small spinners, PowerBait and worms should be effective as well. The brown trout in the lake will start heading into the stream for the fall spawn sometime over the month, so anglers may want to target the south end of the lake where the stream enters the lake.


Fishing has been fair to good all summer. Fair for bait anglers and good for fly rodders. The usual worms under a bobber or fished off the bottom with a slip sinker should work as should small spinners and rooster tails. Give the spinners and rooster tails a few seconds to sink before starting to reel them in. If using a bobber, put your bait about 18-inches to two feet below the bobber. For fly rigging a dry and a dropper is working very well. Good flies for the dry are hoppers, yellow stimulators and humpies. Yellow seems to be the color here. When the lighter patterns aren’t working, switch to black gnats, black or olive Adams and elk hair caddis, or Griffith’s gnats. Wet flies to try, include flashback PT nymphs, small black or olive wooly or crystal buggers, olive or peacock soft hackles, red/silver zebra midges, hares ears and small leech patterns. Angel Lake was stocked with approximately 2,100 rainbow trout the first week of September.


Access to the alpine lakes in the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldts is good. The fish in these high mountain lakes are very cooperative and the further you get from the trailhead the better the fishing. With shorter days the fish are putting on the feedbag anticipating the long winter ahead. Bait anglers will find that, as a general rule, worms and hoppers seem to work better than PowerBait. Small spinners in dark colors with light contrasting highlights, as well as small panther Martins and rooster tails also are effective. For flyrodders small yellow or red dry flies such as stimulators, hoppers, elk hair caddis and humpies with a soft hackle or other nymph dropper is the way to go. In low light conditions darker colored flies such as black gnats, ants, beetles and Griffith’s gnats should be used. Be prepared for nights below freezing if camping at these elevations.


Hoppers, caddis and stoneflies are still out and about, and trout continue to hit dry flies. Fishing continues to be good at the beaver ponds in Lamoille Canyon and other streams in the area. Most streams in eastern Nevada have below average flows so anglers will want to target beaver ponds, deeper runs and plunge pools when fishing them. As of September 18, the East Fork of the Owyhee has dropped significantly to 12.5 cubic feet/second (cfs), the Bruneau River at 8 cfs, the Jarbidge at 5 cfs, Salmon Falls Creek at 30 cfs, Lamoille Creek flowing at a very low 3 cfs, the South Fork of the Humboldt at 8 cfs, Cleve Creek at 5.5 cfs, Steptoe Creek at 3.5 cfs and Kingston Creek well below normal at 3 cfs.


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