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Joe's Fishing Hole: Finding the right depth
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Joe's Fishing Hole: Finding the right depth

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Last week we talked about the warm surface temperatures driving fish deeper in the water column. Anglers can use this to their advantage to catch fish this time of year, though it works best from a boat or a float tube.

In our larger high desert reservoirs there is a layer of colder, denser water that exists below the less dense warm water higher up in the water column. Where the two layers meet is called the thermocline. The thermocline generally exists where the water temperature changes by three to six degrees in a matter of just a few feet.

In both South Fork and Wild Horse reservoirs, this normally occurs between 15 and 20 feet below the surface of the lake. Obviously, the shallower ends of the lakes are lacking the thermocline.

Below the thermocline, the water is denser, has less oxygen and little sunlight reaches it. Above, the water is “lighter,” has more oxygen and food. However, as the water closer to the surface reaches the mid 60s and into 70-degree water, the trout’s metabolism becomes less efficient and they become stressed.

As insects die and sink through the water column, the denser water below the thermocline actually stops them from sinking. A virtual Vegas style buffet for trout.

Guess where the trout hang out? You got it, just above the thermocline. The water is cooler than the surface, has more oxygen than the deeper water and there is easy food for the picking. So where should you fish in a lake during the heat of the summer? Right again. Just above the thermocline.

Expect very few changes to this week’s fishing report and few changes over the next few weeks as we are in the heat of summer.

WILDHORSE

The algae is getting thick, so be sure to clean your gear, especially your lines after fishing here. Surface water temperatures are at or above 70 degrees depending where you are on the lake and time of day. Fishing for and perch ranges from good to very good, both from shore and from boats, while fishing for trout is fair barely good. Bass fishing is good for numbers but fair for size. Trout have moved into deeper water with the warmer surface water temperatures. The usual PowerBait and worms for bait anglers have been working for trout. For fly fishermen midge larva and emerger patterns as well as hares ears, and PT nymphs are good patterns to use. Black or olive wooly buggers are taking fish as well. Most anglers are fishing Penrod and Hendricks Arms as well as the beach in front of the State Park. Perch fishing has been good using small brightly colored jigs tipped with a piece of worm or just a piece of worm on a small hook fished under a bobber. The Hendricks Arm has been very good for perch. Also target perch in just about any cove with some vegetation. With the lake spilling earlier this spring, fishing below the dam has been fair to good for reservoir sized fish using streamers or hopper patterns. This lake was recently stocked with 7,300 tiger trout and 8,600 rainbows. One black bass 15 inches or longer may now be kept. 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

This reservoir is full and fishing for trout has been slow to fair and bass has been fair to good. Surface water temperatures in the low 70s which is helping the bass bite but causing the trout to move deeper into the water column. Weeds are growing though there are lots of holes and channels providing great edges to fish. Fly fishermen fishing chironomids (midge larvae) or balanced leeches under an indicator are finding some success. Fishing snow cones and midge larva a foot off the bottom in about 10 feet of water seems to be the ticket, especially around the edges of weed beds. Also using a full sink line in the same depths with a black/red wooly buggers or leeches has also been productive. Most of the trout being caught from shore have been in the backs of deeper coves, along Jet Ski Beach and Coyote Cove and by the dam. Catfish are being caught near the northwest corner by the dam, the west side flats and at the south end of reservoir by old ranger station. Fishing below the dam in the river has been slow to fair. Bass fishing has been good for both smallmouth and largemouth using soft plastic baits in darker colors and expect the bass fishing to improve with warmer temperatures. South Fork was recently stocked with approximately 3,000 rainbow trout. Anglers may now keep one black bass 15” or longer. The state park campground is open at 50% of capacity.

JIGGS/ZUNINO RESERVOIR

The water level is very low and warm. Earlier this week, this combination caused a fish kill for trout so trout fishing should be considered poor here. However, this combination has made fishing for bluegill good as they do well in warm water and the low level has them concentrated. 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. Anglers have been catching keeper sized bluegill with a small bit of worm on a red hook suspended about 18 inches below the bobber.

WILSON RESERVOIR

The water level is good but weeds and algae have arrived. However, the boat ramp is mostly clear of growth right now. Fishing is fair good for 12 to 15-inch trout that are in good shape and good for smaller bass. Just like other reservoirs, the trout have moved into deeper water. The same presentations, flies, baits and lures as used at South Fork, should also work well here. Wilson was stocked with just under 10,000 trout a few weeks ago. Please pack your garbage out.

RUBY LAKE NWR

Bass fishing is good for numbers but fair for keepers. Surface water temperatures are in the high 60’s into the low 70’s. This is shaping up to be a good year for bass fishing in the south Marsh. 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 with no wind as the shadows are hitting the water along the cattail edges are also working. Fishing is fair at the collection ditch for 13 to 18-inch trout with the occasional large trout being taken. Fishing in the ditch seems to improve on cloudy or windy days. Small brightly colored spinners were doing well. Trout are taking dries including hoppers, yellow stimulators and yellow 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.

JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIR

The water level is dropping with irrigation, but still good and trout fishing is fair while bass fishing is fair to good. Catfish are also being taken during low light hours. 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.

COLD CREEK RESERVOIR

Fishing here is fair for 10- to 12-inch trout and good for bass. The usual worms, PowerBait, small spinners and flies should all work. Early morning finds both trout and bass hitting dry flies, while later in the day nymphs and buggers are more effective.

CAVE LAKE

Fishing at Cave Lake has been fair good but the water level is low from a drawdown due to concerns with the dam. However the shorelines are muddy and very 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. 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

Comins Lake has water temperatures climbing into the 70s which is driving the trout deeper and helping the bass bite. Anglers need to change their tactics for trout and fish full sink lines and get to the lower depths. Trout fishing is best first thing in the morning, especially with a new moon. Fly fisherman should use wooly buggers, leech patterns, and nymphs patterns (midges, beaded pheasant tails…etc.). 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.

ILLIPAH

Trout fishing has been fair to good here but they have moved into deeper water. 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.

ANGEL LAKE

The lake is still very full. 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. If using a bobber, put your bait at least two to three feet below the bobber. For fly rigging a dry and a dropper is working very well. Good flies for the dry are hoppers, yellow or royal stimulators and humpies. 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, hares ears and small leech patterns. This lake was stocked with more than 1,500 tiger trout in June.

ALPINE LAKES

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. Bait anglers will find that as a general rule worms and hoppers seem to work better than PowerBait. So bring a container and as you hike up catch some grasshoppers at the lower elevations and fish them on a light wire hook. 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.

STREAMS

Streams in the northern part of Elko County are flowing at above or near normal flows, while those south of I-80 are generally well below normal. However, flows in all areas are dropping during the heat of the summer. Hoppers, caddis and stoneflies are out and about, and trout are hitting dry flies. Fishing has been good at the beaver ponds in Lamoille Canyon and other streams in the area. As of July 24, the east fork of the Owyhee was flowing at 80 cubic feet/second (cfs), the Bruneau River at 23 cfs, the Jarbidge at 16 cfs., Salmon Falls Creek at 50 cfs, Lamoille Creek down to 14 cfs, the South Fork of the Humboldt at 30 cfs, Cleve Creek at 6 cfs, Steptoe Creek at 4 cfs and Kingston Creek at 4 cfs. Lamoille Creek was stocked with approximately 5,000 tiger trout in June.

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