Cold Springs in the Kirch WMA

Luis bringing in a Rainbow trout from Cold Springs Reservoir.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) manages the State’s thirteen Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) for the purpose of “conservation and protection of wetlands and waterfowl, including the use of WMAs for recreational fishing and hunting.” They also publish brochures such as the one for the Wayne Kirch WMA (which currently includes a photo of FisherDad lifted from this blog).

Old-time Nevadans often refer to the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area as “Sunnyside.” I believe that name comes from one of the original ranches and a creek originating from a spring on that ranch. Although most of the reservoirs on Kirch have their own spring sources, Sunnyside Creek starts the daisy chain of reservoirs beginning with Dacey, then Adams-McGill followed by Cold Springs and Haymeadow.

The White River Valley was settled in the 1870s. Homesteaders and ranchers were attracted by the meadows that provided reliable water supplies. By the early 1900s the Adams-McGill Company ranch began raising livestock in the fertile meadows. Adams-McGill owned and operated a successful ranching empire for several decades on 100,000 acres of ranch land and associated federal rangeland. In 1959 NDOW began to see the wildlife and conservation potential of the area, so they purchased some of the land. Nine years later they established the Wayne Kirch WMA on 14,815 acres which include five man-made reservoirs, of which four are fishable ( click these hyperlinks for the NDOW fishing regulations as of the date of this post: Dacey, Adams-McGill, Cold Springs, and Haymeadow).

The Kirch WMA lies in the White River Valley.  It is somewhat isolated even for open range states like Nevada and Utah. Estimated driving distances calculate to 180 miles north of Las Vegas, NV, 210 miles west of Cedar City, UT, 250 miles south of Elko, NV, and 390 miles east of Reno, NV. There are some shorter route distances if you are willing to drive on Nevada county graded dirt roads, but special travel preparations and precautions are advised, even for those of us familiar with driving these roads.

Most of the trout landed today were plump and colorful, but under twelve inches.

I have not posted any information about the Kirch WMA for a couple of years. My first post was 17 years ago, and it also highlighted Cold Springs Reservoir. Eventually I discovered that Dacey Reservoir had special regulations which enhanced the trophy Rainbow trout fishery (see the above hyperlinked regulations for Dacey). The notably remarkable Dacey fishery spurred me to fulfill a life-long ambition to write a story for a national fly fishing magazine. I submitted my unsolicited Kirch WMA manuscript to “Southwest Fly Fishing” (now consolidated into the “American Fly Fishing” magazine) which was published the fall of 2014. You can read about that experience in the Kirch Photo Shoot post from 10 years ago. While my blog has a very modest readership, publishing an article in a national magazine provides exponentially greater exposure, and that exposure has curbed my desire to publish stories on my other favorite Nevada angling waters.

We entered the Kirch WMA from the north so that my fishing partner Luis could see the tiny Sunnyside community and the Sunnyside Creek. I was hoping we could fish Dacey, but there was a weed flotsam blocking the primitive small dirt launch ramp. No one was on the water, and while I thought I could make a path for Luis to follow behind as I oared my float tube towards the open water, the reverse action of coming in against the flotsam would be much harder as the mass of vegetation compressed against the dirt launch ramp. So, we opted for Cold Springs.

Of the eleven trout I got into my net, this was the largest, probably not quite fifteen inches.

In the four-plus hours we fished Cold Springs I experienced 18 hookups but could only manage getting 11 into my landing net. Three of my lost trout did some angry head shaking after feeling the sting of the hook, but the fly dislodged before I could see their size. My friend Luis landed four vibrant Rainbows. We both used a black/burgundy leach pattern with a small beadhead and some flashabou, although Luis started the day casting a large nymph pattern. Perhaps the smaller trout we failed to land did not get the entire fly into their mouths.

I was pleased when my good friend Luis agreed to join me on this trip. Luis just started fly fishing slightly over a year ago. He has progressed quickly, and while the casting mistakes that all beginners make (as well as many “seasoned” anglers like me) cause some frustration, Luis genuinely takes pleasure being outdoors in our Lord’s creation and enjoys both the challenges and rewards of fly casting for trout and bass. Luis does catch fish on a fly rod, and those successes often provide the foremost instruction and incentive. Best of all, we enjoy each other’s company and use our Great Basin drive time to share our Christian faith experiences with each other.

Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.

Romans 12:9–10 (NCV)
Luis kicking his float tube into the boat launch ramp after a warm afternoon of fly fishing.

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.

14 thoughts on “Cold Springs in the Kirch WMA”

  1. Keep fishing, Mark. It’s one of the best recreational activities – so good for body and soul!


    1. Thank you Karen. I continue to “hold my own” as the saying goes. Working hard to maintain my current health as long as our Lord will let me. I can only do what I can and trust in Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). All is good in our household.

  2. Enjoy your posts, Mark. I’m the fisherman from Santa Barbara mentioned in your 2014 article. Your pictures remind me of the many years I fished there and how special it was each spring for 15 years. I’m almost 88 and can no longer travel to fish. Bicycle accident really slowed me down. As well, my wife now needs my care and presence. Keep fishing and refreshing my memories. Thanks!

    1. Hello Ron! I certainly do remember you. You were a very good fly angler, and you often expressed how you enjoyed your Nevada fishing trips. I know your wife often accompanied you on those trips. I would have enjoyed fishing with you again. Aging is hard on us, and when it prevents us from partaking in our favorite hobbies we begin to rely on our memories. I suppose that is one of the reasons I write this blog; it documents decades of outdoor experiences and the wonderful people like you I shared them with. I pray our Lord eases the pain and suffering of your elder years, and I know your wife is thankful for your care and presence in her life.

      – Mark

    1. Thank you Vince! I hope you are well and that retirement is upon you. I think you will enjoy my next post which should go live in the next few days.

      My very best to you and your wife.

      – Mark

  3. Hello Mark, Thank you for another great post of you and Luis and your fishing adventures. I’ve followed your blog for 2.5 years now and I’m grateful to know that a fellow brother appreciates the Fathers handiwork , miraculous landscapes, the beauty and art of trout fishing and the peaceful quiet times in the wilderness. Been following you from Twin Falls, ID. so my territory to fish is Ely/Elko region. Thank you again and many blessings to you and Luis

    1. Hey Fred! Thank you for your comments, both on this post and the others. I am pleased you enjoy the posts. Speaking of Idaho, I believe there are four rivers/creeks that flow north out of Elko County that are tributaries to Idaho’s Snake River: Salmon Falls Creek, Jarbidge River, Bruneau River, and Owyhee River. Being that you have only been following FisherDad for less than three years, you might have missed a post from July 2019 on Elko County. There are some interesting facts and information (many hyperlinks) about the area and its waters; Here’s the link:

      I am blessed to have other brothers in Christ who love the outdoors and our Lord Jesus. May he continue to keep you and bless you, Fred.

      – Mark

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