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Cover Story

Southern Nevada Fishing Jewels
by Ivy Santee
Conservation Education, Aquatic Education Coordinator
Nevada Department of Wildlife

When considering great places to wet a fishing line, watch wildlife, or just enjoy being outdoors, I find that what many people visualize are locations such as; the rivers and lakes of Oregon and Washington, the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, Arkansas, Florida and so many other states with more water than people. Though the desert Southwest is not at the top of most people's lists, it is at the top of mine because of several terrific fishing waters located just a stone's throw from my home in the Vegas Valley.

With more than 500 miles of shoreline, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the continental United States and boasts approximately twenty species of fish; it's game fish include striped, largemouth and smallmouth bass, two types of catfish, and several panfish species like bluegill and sunfish. For many of us, panfish were the first type of fish we caught. The lake also has three species of endangered fish. We can't forget the ones that few people want to catch, such as carp, shad or tilapia. While tilapia is popular as fresh fish in the grocery store, it's an unwanted species in Nevada waters.

Of these, the fish I enjoy going after the most are bass. Despite being called bass collectively, these fish each have differing natures which means those looking to catch them need to use differing methods to attract and catch them. I've gone after them using bait and lures, but my favorite method is fly-fishing. Shore access around Lake Mead is limited to a few roads, so anglers who wish to fish from the shoreline must have patience with crowded access points or hike the rugged shoreline to get away from everyone else. I prefer, when I can, to get out on a boat, but when that's not an option I wade out into the lake using chest waders. That gets me just a little bit closer to the fish.

Usually, the best time of day for fishing on Lake Mead is not during the day at all, but in the wee dark hours between midnight and daybreak. That's when the stripers and channel catfish primarily feed and are more willing to take your bait or lure.

Often referred to as "the river" by locals, because of the significant current produced from the outflow from the dam, Lake Mojave begins at the base of Hoover Dam and snakes its way through the original Colorado River canyon to Davis Dam located near Laughlin. At its upper end, near Willow Beach, the water remains in the cool mid 50's most of the year. Though Mojave is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, these two lakes are like most siblings, easy to see they're related, but with different personalities. Lake Mead spreads out over a large area which allows its water to warm up to a pleasant eighty degrees Fahrenheit or more in summer, while Lake Mojave stays cooler most of the year and usually doesn't get much over 65 degrees during the summer months. With it's steep narrow canyon walls, much of Mojave is accessible only by boat, which adds to the feeling of privacy when enjoying it's pristine water. Mojave also contains most of the same fish species as Mead with a few minor exceptions. I really love fishing Lake Mojave and seldom find myself sharing my fishing area with another human being, but I do enjoy being watched by the occasional grazing bighorn sheep or prowling coyote.

Some days, I just want to spend a little time next to a pond playing with the fish or watching birds, without having to drive more than a few miles. The local parks with urban ponds are a great way to relax and just play for a little while. The hard part is deciding which pond to visit on any given day.

The pond at Veterans Memorial Park is a peaceful paradise to fish for trout during the cooler months, and catfish or bluegill when the days grow warmer. The pond is surrounded by young trees that help cool the ambient air with their shade, but there are a few openings in the foliage which allow me to cast a flyline, my personal preference. Saturday, June 14th is this year's Free Fishing Day. This offers a great opportunity to fish Veterans Memorial Park if you've never had the pleasure.

Another favorite location of mine are the ponds at Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs. There are four ponds to choose from and a few more fish species than the other ponds in the valley. In addition, ponds can also be found at Lorenzi Park and Sunset Park.

No matter what day of the week or time of day it is, with the variety of ponds to choose from, I can always find a quiet spot to wet my line and on a good day, catch and release more fish than I can count. The lakes and ponds of the Las Vegas Valley offer a wide variety of fish to challenge your skills and provide a chance to relax and commune with nature.

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