Comins Lake in the Spring

My friend, Luis, is about to launch the Fish Cat-style float tube on Thursday morning. We had a leisurely breakfast at the motel, and this photo was taken around 8:00am. If we look lonely it is because we were the first to arrive at Comins, even at that morning hour. The wind was calm and the clouds had not yet begun to form over the mountain ranges. The snow capped mountains shown here are the middle section of the Egan Range. Egan runs about 108 miles north to south between the Nevada hamlets of Cherry Creek and Sunnyside. Its tallest peaks are Ward (10,936 ft.) and North Ward (10,803 ft.), both of which are in this photo.

This post is a pictorial essay of a wonderful trip to Ely, NV with my good friend Luis. About a year ago, after Luis retired, he told me of his desire to learn how to fly fish. We had frequented Cold Creek Pond as a starting place for him, and as he gained some experience there I began to set my sights on getting him on Comins Lake near Ely, NV. While the fishing was just “OK” for Comins standards, Luis’s delight to see and explore these parts of Nevada’s Great Basin was the best part of the trip. His infectious enthusiasm was punctuated with all sorts of observations and inquiries. I explained and answered everything to the best of my abilities. I enjoyed being a tour guide for Luis. I have great affection for Nevada, for its statuesque mountain ranges, spacious valleys, and folksy frontier towns, so I relished sharing whatever I knew.

On this trip we took US93 to US318 as a direct route to Ely. Our return route was down US93 the whole way. This circuitous route circumnavigated the Egan and Schell Creek ranges, and it allowed me to introduce Luis to the Snake Mountain Range that is the home of the Great Basin National Park. He also got the “nickel tour” of the Pioche, Panaca, and Caliente towns. Nevada is amazing!

Our Wednesday afternoon arrival at Comins was greeted by occasionally gusty winds, building rain clouds, and a few light showers. Luis was excited to unpack and try the fishing.
Luis getting ready to launch the float tube, with the prominent Camel Peak (10,079 ft.) displaying its white coat of snow in the distance. These mountains are the middle section of the Schell Creek Range, which is approximately 132 miles north to south.
Luis caught the first fish of Wednesday afternoon, a Largemouth bass (aka Black bass) about 12 inches in length… very respectable. He reports that it tasted very good. The May 5, 2023, report on the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) website stated: “The lake is an unprecedented brackish color from leaching of tannins from the surrounding vegetation as well as from siltation coming in from Steptoe Creek.” This brackish or tannin color is evident in the shallow water behind Luis. This was the first time I have ever seen Comins water this color.
Luis putting on his paddle fins, which are required to move the float tube on the lake, while the Fish Taco truck waits patiently.
My first good Rainbow trout of Wednesday afternoon. It was a male still in its spawning color. He did not leap while I was trying to bring him to the net, perhaps because he was exhausted from his futile spawning attempts in the lake. Unlike Lake trout, Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat trout need highly oxygenated cold water with pebbled bottoms usually found in rivers, streams or creeks in order to successfully spawn. As to his size, note that his tail fin is about one or two centimeters below “0” on the stripping apron measuring surface while his lower jaw reaches 48 centimeters, so his length is about 19.3 to 19.7 inches. I also caught two other small but very acrobatic Rainbows on Wednesday afternoon. This 19+ inch trout seemed light for his length based on the other large trout I caught on Thursday morning.
One of the smaller, but very pretty, Rainbows I brought to hand.
Luis surveying the southern end of Comins Lake, with the Schell Creek Mountains well off in the distance. We did not fish this lower section, although we were tempted.
A different view of the lower section of Comins Lake, looking southerly. It is shallower than the upper section, and it is often overcome with bulrush and other vegetation by early summer. However, this year’s winter weather was unusually snowy and wet, and it seemed like spring was late to Comins Lake this year. This is probably true throughout Nevada and the rest of our western mountains.
The upper section of Comins from a northerly perspective. This photo, and the previous, are good visual representations of how these mountain ranges create their own weather, which is then dried and dissipated as it moves over the valleys between them.
My first fish of Thursday morning, an 18 to 20 inch Northern pike (I did not measure it). It was my first ever pike. These continue to be illegally planted in Comins (probably from nearby Bassett Lake). Pike can grow to 25 inches or more, and they will gobble-up the 9 inch trout planted into Comins (there is no suitable creek inlet for the Comins trout to spawn in, thus the annual stocking program is what supports the trophy trout fishery, which the pike will decimate if not controlled). The NDOW website also reported the following: “The spawn is in full swing for Northern Pike and anglers are encouraged to target Northern Pike while they are fishing.  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.” As you can see, this pike did not have a tag or antenna, so I dispatched it as requested.
This was one of two nice Rainbows I caught on Thursday morning. Although I did not measure it, based on its relationship to my Fishpond Nomad Mid-Length – River Armor net, it was very close to Wednesday’s 19+ inch trout, but its body was thicker and heavier. Note the Dave Whitlock Damsel Nymph fly that caught him lies next to the rim of the net on the lower left of the photo.
Taking US93 south from Ely (the section that overlays with US 50), this scene appeared as we crossed the Schell Creek Range and descended into the Spring Valley. This “backside” view of the Snake Mountain Range (in which the Great Basin National Park sits) is overpowering in person. The cliché that “the picture doesn’t do it justice” really applies here. While a shorter mountain range based on Nevada’s standards (about 60 miles north to south), the Snake Range contains 9 peaks over 11,000 ft. They are, north to south, Mount Moriah (12,050 ft.), Bald Mountain (11,562 ft.), Doso Doyabi, formerly Jeff Davis Peak (12,775 ft.), Wheeler Peak (13,063 ft.), Baker Peak (12,298 ft.), Pyramid Peak (11,921 ft.), Mount Washington (11,676 ft.), Lincoln Peak (11,597 ft.), and Granite Peak (11,218 ft.). The other side of this range (its east slope that abuts the Nevada/Utah border) contains several streams and alpine lakes that are home to the Bonneville cutthroat trout, not to mention the Lehman Caves attraction. Although crowded like most National Parks, every Nevadan should try to visit this park, even if just for a “day trip” from your Ely, NV motel. Luis was overwhelmed just to see its backside across the Spring Valley.

Luis and I met over 20 years ago, perhaps over 25 years. We met through a Promise Keepers (PK) group. We attended a couple of national PK events, but we really developed our personal friendship and fellowship with each other and our other brothers through breakfast meetings every other Saturday. Luis brought a perspective into our men’s group that is often taken for granted by native born United States citizens. Luis and his family legally emigrated to the U.S. over 43 years ago. His family fled El Salvador to escape the devastating Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s. Not only did his family find peace and safety in the U.S., but they also accessed the bounty of opportunities that the U.S. provided as compared to every other nation in the world. Luis learned the orthotics and prosthetics craft, and eventually became a part owner of a series of local orthotics and prosthetics providers. Luis sees the U.S. from the perspective that he and his family escaped real oppression and succeeded in carving out careers and making a difference in their adopted U.S.

Luis also sees the U.S. as a Christian nation. Perhaps not as fervent as it was when he first arrived, but he still believes no matter what happens in the U.S. political scene, our Lord and Savior has prepared a place for us, a place where there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. Amen to that my brother Luis, Amen to that.

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.

19 thoughts on “Comins Lake in the Spring”

  1. Hi Mark, thank you for yet another wonderful blog post. It was interesting learning about your friendship with Luis and his many achievements in the United States. I’m glad Luis has such a godly and faithful friend in you. You are a blessing to so many, many people. I trust you are healthy and very happy, my friend

    1. Hello Randy! I am doing well by the grace of our Lord. I was just telling a relative that I’m not going to let my health issues prevent me from living a full and abundant life (John 10:10). I pray you continue to serve Him for his purpose. May He richly bless you my good Brother in Christ!

  2. Mark/Luis— Continue down the road past where you fished. You’ll see an outhouse down by the lake. The weed beds in this area are full of big trout. Guess this is the south or outlet end of the lake. This is where I always fished and had many days of 18″-22″ fish. 15″ of ice this winter so there may be some winter kill. also why water is brown. No more Nevada for me as my wife needs my presence at this time of life. Will have to fish Cachuma Lake in our area from my outboard as no tubes allowed. will use the flyrod on bass, trout and carp. Haven’t been for 3 weeks as the weather is overcast and wet. Catch one for me.

    1. Ron, I was thinking of you while Luis and I were fishing. Thank you so much for your insight on Comins; I may get back up there in the fall.

      I was hoping by some miracle that I would run into you, but I certainly understand changing priorities. My family had to make adjustments for me, and I am extremely grateful for that.

      I think my brother Bruce has fished Cachuma Lake on his kayak, but maybe I am wrong about that. Do they allow kayaks on Cachuma?

      My prayers and best wishes for you and your wife, Ron.


  3. Mark,
    Great post, thanks for all the little details re the peaks and views. Hammer Handle pike like that are fun to catch but not much fun to clean and eat. There is a row of floating v~shaped bones above the spine that keep you guessing if you are dining on them. They taste good. I’ve never caught one on the fly though ~ well done!

    1. Vince, your assist on the edibility of pike is far more informative than the Fishmasters website, thanks for that. I hope your retirement plans are coming together as you hoped they would. May the Lord continue to bless you my friend.


  4. Wow… looks like a great fishing trip!! nice pictures too…like Luis my goal is to learn to fly fish…I was alway a spinning real guy both fresh and salt water. Northern pike is a suprise to me in those waters, invasive species are never good. 🙂👍

    1. Hey Mike!

      Yes, in my lifetime the Comins trout fishery has been shut down three times because of the invasive pike. The last time it took years (maybe 4 or 5) before NDOW decided to take down the pike population and restock the trout. That was in 2017 (see this post:, so in 6 years we’re back to a pike problem.

      As to fly fishing, now that you’re retired you have the time to learn. The two most common complaints about it are learning to fly cast and the complexity of its components. There are many good instructional books out there on both of those subjects. I once wrote a primer to demystify fly fishing tackle, but I’m, not sure I succeeded in that goal (check out this post:

      Learning fly-casting is just practice, like learning to throw a football or playing a guitar. The good news is that even beginning casters will catch fish.

      I like to keep things simple; overcomplication can be a drag. Unfortunately the fly fishing industry seems to add all sorts of new tackle advancements that fight against simplicity.

      Love to you and June!

    2. Mike, one more thing. Here’s a good Lefty Kreh video on the fundamentals of fly casting:
      Lefty, who passed away in 2018, was known for his generous and effective fly casting instruction. As an angler, he was one of the most influential fly anglers in both freshwater and saltwater. He wrote countless articles and more than 30 books, as well as published many videos and television appearances, where he translated his vast experience into lucid observations and practical advice for fly anglers at all levels. I urge you to check it out. (I’m a lousy fly casting instructor.)

  5. Do you live in the Las Vegas area? I just moved to Las Vegas. I was looking for places to fly fish in UT and saw your blog. I just had to subscribe!

    1. Hello Nate! Yes, I’ve lived in Las Vegas since 1965.

      Regarding your question, at the bottom of my blog is a “Category” section. It lists all the waters I have fished (and other topics). When you click on a “Category” (i.e., water) it will return all the blogposts for that water. So, the “Utah” specific waters I have fished are: Anderson Res., Baker Res., Beaver River, Kolob Res., Little Res., Mammoth Creek, Panguitch Lake, Pine Valley Res., Red Creek Res., Sevier River, and Tropic Reservoir. You will find all these waters alphabetically in the list of “Categories.”

      All the best for your Utah fishing, and please post comments whenever the urge strikes. If the comment is on one of these waters, it would be great if you could post it on the latest post for that water.

      Tight Lines!

      1. Awesome and thank you! Maybe someday we’ll get to meet up! I am a snob when it comes to fly fishing. I like moving water (no reservoirs), and I love the mountains where few people are. I’ll hike a mile or two downstream and fish upstream back to the truck. I have heard the runoff right now is making most of the UT streams and creeks un-fishable. I will be sure to comment on the waters I fish when I get a moment. Hopefully, I can get up into the mountains soon. Was planning on this weekend, but the runoff is preventing the long journey. Is there a way for me to post pictures of the fish caught on your blog?

        1. Yes, that was me when I was 20 through about 40. I was a fly-fishing snob pursuing secluded mountain streams only.

          Now, 20+ years of peripheral artery disease in my legs, one heart attack while fishing alone in eastern NV, and a new artificial artery to bypass blockage causing damage to my right leg, all restricts me to float tubing with a body about to turn 67. Age and health is as restricting factor to many of us old timers. Be kind to us (LOL).

          Happy to respond to any questions you might have. Know that here are some really awesome streams in NV, but the negative is that they’re all 4-6 hours away from Vegas (but so are the better Utah streams, so…). Check for posts on some Nevada streams like East Walker River, Carson River, Mary’s River, Bruneau River, Jarbidge River, and “The Ditch” found in several of my Ruby Mountain Area posts.

          All the best!

          1. Thanks of all those suggestions. Sorry to hear about those struggles! If you have any struggles tying knots, I will send you you several of my knot tying tools free of charge! You can email me and I will send them to you.

          2. Struggles are a part of life. I am thankful that I can still fish at all.

            I see that you are the creator of the “Knot Kneedle.” Pretty cool. Did you relocate to Nevada for tax reasons (it’s obvious it wasn’t the fishing)? Just curious.

            You can reach me at
            I’ve never used a tool before except a large gage nail to tie a “Nail Knot” (I’m old school). I used to build my own leaders using 5 blood knots per leader under the Curtis Creek Manifesto formula. I am really thankful for todays tapered leaders.

            But, I am now old enough to appreciate conveniences like float tubes and tapered leaders, so why not a knot tying tool.

            Thanks for your generosity.


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