October 23, 2013

Dacey Reservoir, Sunnyside, NV

Dacey Reservoir, looking southwest
(Hot Creek Butte on left, 11,000 foot Grant Range in center background)
Sunnyside (now Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area) first came into my consciousness in the 1980’s through fish-talk with the EG&G Purchasing Director, Merl Rees.  Merl told stories of large trout, sixteen to eighteen inches, in the Sunnyside reservoirs.  At the time my fishing interests were focused on streams and high mountain lakes.  It wasn’t until April of 2005 that I first visited the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (i.e., Kirch, a.k.a. Sunnyside). Kirch has four fishable reservoirs. On all four reservoirs the only shore-accessible fishing is from the dam; boats, pontoons, and tubes are the most effective way to fish these reservoirs due to significant bulrush growth along the shorelines.
An anxious FisherDad ready to verify the merits of "catch and release"
I have fished Kirch eighteen times since 2005, but it wasn’t until four weeks ago that I tried fishing Dacey Reservoir, and I really don’t know why.  Perhaps it was because I frequently caught the trout Merl described on Cold Springs and Haymeadow Reservoirs, and assumed that was as good as it gets at Kirch.  The regulation limits on those reservoirs are five trout, and I often noted boat anglers with full limits.  Over the past eight years the largest trout I have caught on Cold Springs and Haymeadow were eighteen inches, but I believed trout up to and over twenty existed.

My Dacey trip on September 27 was an eye opener for me.  Dacey has special regulations: one trout, artificial lures only.  On that day I landed just three trout, all eighteen inches or larger.  The since that trip I had been plotting one more trip before the winter ice-over, and the unusually warm, high pressure weather system that had been over southern Nevada was the final impetus to visit Dacey again to verify that the last trip wasn’t a chance occurrence.

I was the first on the reservoir, but soon a guy on an ATV parked on the dam and began fishing for his meal for the day (he came from the little Sunnyside hamlet just a few miles northeast of Dacey).  While he was fishing the resident NDOW fisheries biologist, whose name was also Mark, arrived and began fly-casting off the dam.  While they were there I caught two twenty-inch-plus trout right in front of them.  Inspired, Mark inflated his tube and fished the southwestern area along the bulrush.  I noted that as soon as the Sunnyside ATV guy caught his trout he pulled out and headed home, no doubt for a meal. It wasn’t long after when Mark hooked up with a very large rainbow from his float tube.
Fisheries biologist, Mark, playing a large rainbow trout
(note leaping trout just below shoreline to the far left)
For the record, this was one of the best fishing days I have ever had since my Henderson Springs trip in November 2003.  I finished the five-hour fishing day with nine trout (largest measuring 17”, 18”, 20”, 21”, and 22”) and three largemouth bass (largest being 15”).  On top of that, I had four LDRs and 5 missed strikes.  I have no doubt that the restrictive regulations account for the larger trout, a testament to the rewards of catch-and-release.  I was using my nine-foot, five-weight rod with a nine-foot, 3x fluorocarbon leader (i.e., six pound test).  I used the same fly all day long: a size eight, olive woolly bugger with copper ribbing and a little flashabou in the tail.  Only half-way through the day did I clip off and replace two feet of leader as a precaution against stress from playing such large fish with sharp teeth.

It was a beautiful day on all fronts. It was truly a Proverbs 10:22 kind of day: “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.
A very thick, 22" rainbow trout
The plump 21" rainbow
The 20" rainbow
The 17" rainbow
The 15" largemouth bass
Playing the 21-incher; can't you feel the pull of his strength
(ATV angler on the dam to the right)
Yes, there is a Sunnyside Creek
Proof!