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Joe’s Fishing Hole

Joe's Fishing Hole: Wear a life jacket on the water

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Lincoln Malolo

Lincoln Malolo shows off one of the few trout caught at the Take A Kid Fishing Day at the Spring Creek Marina last weekend. The weather was cold and windy and fishing was slow but the kids had a great time and all of the participants went home with prizes.  

With the warmer weather forecast for the next week, lots of boaters will be taking to the waters. The winds that are also forecast can cause problems for boaters, especially inexperienced ones. Please wear your PFD (personal flotation device). Statistics show that year after year, approximately 75-80% of boat drowning fatalities were not wearing PFDs.

Like a seatbelt in a car, if you aren’t wearing a PFD when you go into the water, it is too late. Anglers in float tubes, on kick boats, kayaks or in a motor driven vessel, should all wear PFDs. Modern PFDs are less bulky, more comfortable and even more stylish than they were just a few years ago.

Boats often come with those big, ugly orange yoke type life jackets that no one wants to wear. Get rid of those and spend a few dollars to get a comfortable, well-fitting PFDs that you and your passengers will wear at all times. After all, what is a life worth? Children under 14 are required by law to wear a PFD when in a boat that is under way.

Last week’s “Take a Kid Fishing” day was a big success in spite of the weather with approximately 75 youngsters braving the elements and getting outside to fish at the Spring Creek Marina. I am often asked how the fishing was and while the fishing this day was good, the catching left a lot to be desired as only a few fish were caught. It is a testament to the kids that many of them wanted to continue to fish through the cold and wind, while it was the parents, for the most part, that wanted to go home.

Thanks to some generous donors such as the Spring Creek Association, Khoury’s Market Place, Elko Fly Shop, Brent Stokes State Farm and the Ruby Mountain-Spring Creek Lions Club, every child walked away with a prize and a great lunch was served for the participants.

WILDHORSESurface water temperatures dipped back into the high 40s with the colder weather and precipitation. Fishing continues to be good with most anglers having good luck in both Penrod and Hendricks Arms. Fishing in the coves as well as in the Hendricks and Penrod Arms from shore has been good for trout. Bass fishing is still very slow with the cold water temperatures. Perch fishing is also slow. The same fly patterns continue to work as fly fishermen have been having good luck with wine colored leech patterns as well as wine or red chironomid. Olive, wine and black/blood leeches and buggers have also produced fish. For bait anglers try fishing an inflated worm a few feet off the bottom using a slip sinker in water that is four to 10 feet deep. Don’t fish it too far from the bank, 20 to 30 feet at most. Another option would be to roll some PowerBait to make a bell shape and fish it in a similar fashion to the inflated worm using a slip sinker and it will float up a couple of feet above the bottom. Make sure to dip the PowerBait in the water for a few seconds after it is on the hook to “gel” it up so it doesn’t come off the hook when casting. Wildhorse was stocked with 10,000 trout in early April and 500 wipers this week. No black bass may be kept until July 1. Please return all black bass to the lake as soon as they are caught.

SOUTH FORK RESERVOIRSurface water temperatures dipped back to 50 degrees this week with the colder weather and precipitation. Fishing has been fair to good depending upon the day for spin, bait and fly rodders. Bait anglers seem to be having the best luck with worms floated off the bottom about 20-30 feet from shore in six to 10 feet of water. Spin anglers continue to report good luck with gold Kastmasters and gold colored spinners. Fly fishermen report that fishing has also been good for trout in the 15 to 20-inch range. Most are being caught with chironomid (midge larva) patterns fished under an indicator. Black or read snow cones with a white bead and contrasting red or black wire ribbing have been working well. Black, olive or purple wooly buggers and leech patterns are also catching fish. A few smallmouth, largemouth and wipers have shown up in the creel but. Male bass are transitioning from the deeper water to the spawning beds hanging in about 15 to 20 feet of water and moving into warmer shallower water to feed. With the warmer weather predicted bass fishing may pick up. Use a thermometer to find the warmer water for bass. If targeting these warm water fish, slow down the retrieve as the water is still well below their comfort zone and they are moving slower. Chartreuse was working for the wipers and chartreuse or light olive appeared to be working for black bass. South Fork was stocked with 500 wipers and 10,000 catfish this week. It has also been stocked with approximately 38,000 trout this spring. No black bass may be kept until July 1. Return them to the water as soon as they are caught.


Almost dry and no fish.

WILSON RESERVOIRFishing has been good for fly fishermen using leech, wooly buggers and chironomids. No report on any bass. Anglers should use the same presentations, colors and techniques that are being used at South Fork Reservoir. Since the big question every spring is when will the lake spill, with the low water levels and lack of snow pack, it probably won’t spill this year as the peak snowmelt runoff has already occurred. Wilson was planted with approximately 12,000 trout on April 1. The boat ramp is still not useable due to water levels.

RUBY LAKE NWRNot much has changed as far as fishing conditions as fishing has been fair to good for 13 to 18-inch fish depending upon the day and location on the ditch. The wind is also playing a part in the fishing. Best days seem to be when there are light to moderate winds to break the surface up but not so strong as to interfere with casting. Chironomid patterns such as zebra midges, Yankee buzzers, chromies and ice cream cones should work. Other flies such as leech patterns, balanced leeches, crystal buggers, #14-16 hare’s ears, and #16-18 PT nymphs fished under an indicator are recommended. Very small dry flies have also been effective on warmer afternoons. Size 16 to 20 elk hair caddis, blue winged olives, ants and Griffith’s gnats should all be effective. Spin anglers should be using small spinners in black or olive with contrasting yellow or red colors. A few fish are being caught near the main boat ramp and in Unit 21. It is still a bit cold for bass. Approximately 6,600 trout have been stocked at the main boat ramp and 6,100 trout in the collection ditch.

JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIRThe lake is full, surface water temperatures have dipped back to the low 50’s, and anglers are catching trout. Worms seem to be the presentation of choice, though small spinners should also work for those who want to throw some hardware. Fly rodders should be using chironomids, PT nymphs, hare’s ears, small black or olive buggers and leeches. The lake was stocked with approximately 3,000 trout the last week of April.

COLD CREEK RESERVOIRThis winter repairs to the outlet structure and the reservoir bottom were completed, thanks to Kinross Gold. The reservoir is filling nicely and has been stocked with almost 8,000 trout so far this spring. Expect good fishing for 10 to 12-inch fish using the same techniques and presentations as at South Fork. NDOW will begin rebuilding the Largemouth Bass fishery with augmentations this summer.

CAVE LAKECave Lake is lowered to minimum and unfishable. Fish stocking will resume once the dam repairs are completed. Cave Lake is closed to fishing due to shorelines that are very soft and dangerous due to the complete saturation of the soil as the lake is drained. By draining the lake, it should shave a couple of years off the re-building of the dam and cut costs tremendously. It will also make the project much safer for those performing the work. For more information on Cave Lake, please contact the NDOW Ely Field Office.

COMINS LAKESurface water temperatures are in the low 50s and fishing continues to be good for trout. Nightcrawlers have been working though anglers have also been doing well using PowerBait. For fly rodders, this time of year chironomid patterns are recommended as they can make up as much as 80% of the trout’s diet in the spring in our high desert reservoirs. Black or olive wooly buggers and black, olive or wine-colored leech patterns may also entice trout. Bass fishing is slow, but will start picking up as the water temperature warms up. It’s still not worth a bass only fishing trip yet. Give it a few weeks. Pike anglers have had some success using artificial minnows or spoons for 12-to-18-inch fish though pike fishing has been slow. Anglers, please note that NDOW has placed radio tags in several Northern Pike. These pike will have an orange Floy tag near their dorsal fin and a small antenna (~ 7 inches long) coming from their stomach. Please return these fish to the water for research purposes. All other pike should be humanely dispatched. There is no limit on the pike. The lake has been stocked with plenty of trout this spring.

ILLIPAHSurface water temperatures are still hovering around 50 degrees and fishing has been fair to good. Water levels continue to slowly improve. Anglers will do well with a variety of night crawlers, PowerBait, and spinners. For bait anglers nightcrawlers and rainbow PowerBait are the best bet. Small spinners, spoons and Kastmasters in gold for those throwing hardware should work. For fly rodders, this time of year chironomid patterns (midge larva) are recommended as they can make up as much as 80% of the trout’s diet in the spring in our high desert reservoirs. Black or olive wooly buggers and black, olive or wine-colored leech patterns should also catch trout. Spring stocking is complete here with Illipah having been stocked with approximately 10,000 trout.


The road to Angel Lake is closed for the winter and the lake is ice covered and there will be no more fishing reports until late spring or early summer depending upon snowfall this winter. As a general rule, NDOT tries to have the road cleared by Memorial Day. It all depends upon snow conditions.


Alpine lakes are still frozen over and there will be no more fishing reports until late spring or early summer depending upon snowfall. Travel into the high mountains at this time is not recommended due winter travel conditions.

STREAMSStream flows have increased just a bit over the past week with the precipitation and snowmelt though they are still well below the median for this time of year. With the warmer weather expect flows to continue to increase. The East Fork of the Owyhee immediately below Wildhorse Dam is flowing at a trickle as little water is coming out of the dam. However, this is normal for this time of year when the reservoir has plenty of capacity and the snow pack is below average. As you go further downstream flows pick up considerably and by the time you get close to Mountain City it is greatly improved though still half of median. It becomes fishable about a mile below the dam. As of May 13, the East Fork of the Owyhee near Mountain City gauging station was flowing at 145 cfs, the Bruneau River flowing was at 125 cfs, the Jarbidge was flowing at 45 cfs, Salmon Falls Creek at 237 cfs, Lamoille Creek at 53 cfs, the South Fork of the Humboldt at a very fishable 50 cfs but well below the median of 350 cfs for this time of year, Cleve Creek at 5.5 cfs, Steptoe Creek at 2.2 cfs and Kingston Creek at 2.8 cfs.


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