Comins Lake in November

On the eastern edge of the lower Comins Lake, sort of across from the new boat launch area, is where I hooked and landed my one and only strike of the day. In the distant center of the photo is the western edge of the Schell Creek Range. Camp Success is hidden away on the other side of that ridge.

As autumn strengthened its grip, I perceived there was time for one more angling trip before I laid up the fly gear and prepared for the winter. Yes, even Las Vegas has a winter season, albeit nothing like the northern half of the United States. Regardless of the Vegas winters, for southern Nevada trout anglers the better fishing is farther north at elevations of 6,000 feet and higher. Comins Lake, for example, sits at 6,545 feet just seven miles east of Ely, Nevada. At those elevations farther north the lakes and reservoirs freeze over in the winter, and it does snow in that part of Nevada. By geographical measures, Ely, Nevada is 1,190 feet higher in elevation and just 0° 20´ in lower latitude as compared to Denver, Colorado, so Ely and Denver are comparable geographically but for the massive Rocky Mountains to the west of Denver.

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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.

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Brotherly Assault on Comins Lake & Ruby Marshes

This is a scenic view of the eastern side of the Ruby Mountains, taken from the spring heads of the Ditch that feeds the Ruby Marshes. It is one of my favorite photos of the Ruby Range. (Photo by Bruce Vincent.)

When is enough, enough? How many fish does it take before you lose interest in fishing? Okay, I admit that saturation is unlikely for die hard anglers, but can your most successful day fishing (measured by count, and perhaps quality) wipe the memory of fishless trips off the board? As a long-time trout angler, I can say for me the successful trips are long remembered, and the “skunkings” are quickly forgotten. And I am grateful for that.

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White Pine’s Comins and Illipah Reservoirs

Chan fishing Comins in the sunlight while rain storms threaten over the Egan Range on the western edge of Steptoe Valley.

My son Nick got me started on this blogging journey in June 2007. He created the blog from Adobe PDF files I emailed to family and a couple fishing buddies. The original PDF essays were almost completely about my fishing experience at select destinations with pretty pictures. The blog was created as a Father’s Day gift, and Nick aptly named it FisherDad by securing the website URL To make up for lost time, I started posting blogs recreated from fishing, climbing, and skiing adventures reaching way back to the late 1970s.  

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Comins Lake in White Pine County

Not much of a blog for this trip.  Mostly a pictorial essay.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and accompanying notes.

The moon over Ely, NV.  This photo looks west down E. Aultman Street, aka U.S. Highway 50 and Lincoln Highway. The Silver State Restaurant has been an Ely landmark for me since the 1970s, but is under new ownership who will be changing the sign to read Nardi’s Family Restaurant. The Magnuson Hotel (yes, they named it a hotel) is down and across the street where you see the red sign sporting a white star. This is where I rest my body when it desires a bed over a sleeping bag, mostly because it was across the street from the Silver State Restaurant. 
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Cave Lake State Park, outside the City of Ely, White Pine County, Nevada

A hawk (I believe a Harris’ hawk) perches on rabbitbrush to survey his domain. This picture was taken near Cave Creek, the southeastern inlet of Cave Lake that gives Cave Lake State Park its name.

My daughter was promised a camping trip before she returned for her school’s fall semester. As the Dog Days of summer began to sap everyone’s energy, I was reminded that “back to school” was but two weeks away. I quickly began planning a short, overnight camping trip.

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Comins Lake, Steptoe Valley Wildlife Management Area

Admiring the Egan Range from the Water Master fishing craft, with Ward Mountain as it crown jewel. As early as mid-September they received a dusting of snow, still visible in this photo. Trout Truck on the far right bank.

I would like to have written a title that exclaimed “Comins is Back,” but the truth is that while this fishing trip included a significant number of large trout, they were likely excess broodstock from the Gallagher Fish Hatchery in the Ruby Valley.  Additionally, there’s the reality that 5 to 8 inch northern pike were discovered in the reservoir through Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) electrofishing.  If NDOW cannot eradicate the illegally introduced pike through electrofishing, they will undoubtedly grow, spawn, and feed such that the decimation of one of the State’s best trout fisheries will seem likely for the third time since I started fly fishing in 1977.  While that may seem somber news, this Comins fishing trip can still be described as awesome; the “regular” trout stocking program has already begun to produce results that demonstrate this remarkable fishery that has the ability to grow trout by 1 to 2 inches per month. 

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Ely, NV – Comins & Cave Lakes

Brian happy to try fishing Comins Reservoir.

It has been a long, dry summer as far as fishing is concerned. I had planned earlier trips, but work and life in general got in the way. But then a window of opportunity appeared at work, and Brian, armed with his new learners permit, was anxious to drive the highway (Nevada law requires him to log 50 hours of driving before he can get his permit, which factors to about 2 hours a week to be ready on his 16th birthday).

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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.

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