Comins Lake – Ely, NV

On Comins Reservoir, looking west towards Ward Mountains 

I was looking forward to a late season trip to eastern Nevada. I was thinking I would fish Illipah, Cave, and Comins, but inclement weather discouraged the Illipah excursion out of concern the dirt road would turn to mud and become impassable. It turned out that Comins was so good I did not want to go anywhere else, anyway.

The weather was wet, cold, and just a little breezy. Although most would think fishing in warm, sunny weather would be more enjoyable and relaxing, I have generally found that the colder, gloomier weather produces better fishing. That is, as long as there is no strong wind.

Sixteen-plus inch Tasmanian Rainbow, last trout of trip

This trip added yet another tick-mark into my memory of great fishing in slightly foul weather. The fishing was awesome. After eleven hours of fishing (five on Thursday and six on Friday) I had landed fourteen trout and hooked but lost ten others. All were larger than normal, mostly in the fourteen to sixteen inch class, so that made it very worthwhile. The largest I landed was eighteen inches, but my camera battery ran out so I did not get a picture of that fish. While breaking down equipment and preparing for the drive home, I was able to speak to a Game Warden. He said there is something about the biology of the lake that causes the planted fish to grow about one inch per month. So, if you plant ten-inchers in the fall they become sixteen to seventeen inches by the spring. That certainly seems to be the case.

Plump and colorful fifteen-inch rainbow

These rainbows really liked to leap upon hook-up, and no doubt the cooler fall weather energized them. It was common to see several one to two foot leaps into the air. Sometimes large, acrobatic fish psyche fisherman into thinking they need to apply more pressure on the line than is really necessary. I’m afraid I succumbed to that as I tried to bully those large fish too much. On Thursday it was darker and windier, so I was using my seven-weight with a 5X tippet. That seemed to work just fine. On Friday the wind died down and it got a little sunnier. I saw several pods of fish working the surface on little hatches of midges, so I switched to my five-weight. Unfortunately I neglected to change the 6x tippet to 5x. I hooked one really nice fish that was much larger than the eighteen-incher. It leaped over two feet into the air so I got a real good look at it. It then borrowed into the bottom of the weeds. When I tried to muscle it away from the weeds the tippet broke off. I was angry for putting so much pressure on and for not changing to a stronger tippet.

Another strong, fifteen-inch rainbow

As usual, I returned all fish, but there were others on Friday who kept a couple each, and when they were cleaning them one asked me if these trout were in spawn. I confidently replied that rainbows spawn in the spring, and that perhaps he had a brown trout (although I didn’t think browns were in Comins). He said, “No, it’s a rainbow.” Then I recalled the Game Warden had said these trout came from Tasmania (in the southern hemisphere near Australia, where the weather seasons are reversed). Perhaps that is why they are full of eggs in the fall. I then remembered that the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) sponsors a program called “Trout in the Classroom”. In that program they import eggs from Tasmania because those trout spawn during “our” fall such that the children can watch the trout hatch and grow in an aquarium during the school year. Maybe that is where these trout came from and their biological clock is still screwed up. Subsequent to this trip, I have corresponded with NDOW and learned that they do indeed stock many Nevada waters with Tasmanian rainbows. They say that strain grows faster and fights harder than other rainbow species. But here is the punch line; rainbow trout are not indigenous to Tasmania, rather they were imported from America. One wonders if our national fish stocking programs have homogenized stocked rainbows too much, and that perhaps Tasmania’s stocking program, which is much younger than the American programs, either has not yet hit that no-return point or is simply better managed than ours because they learned from our mistakes.

Regardless of why and how these Comins rainbows grow quickly and fight so strong, I had an inspiring two-day fishing trip in Ely. The beauty of the area and the wonder of these fish filled my soul. I find reveling in the wonder and beauty of nature always confirms the existence of God, our creator.

Trout on!!  Note trout truck on the distant shoreline
Ely’s Silver State Café from the Best Western Motel… home away from home
Self-portrait of the happy fly fisherman

Author: FisherDad

I am a Christian who has been married to my wife for over four decades, with six children and four grandchildren so far. I have retired from a string of successful occupations as a certified public accountant, a chief financial officer, and a registered municipal advisor. I have been a fly angler for almost five decades. My one and only article submission was published by Southwest Fly Fishing magazine (now American Fly Fishing). You can learn more about me by clicking on “About” on the top of my blog page.

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