Haymeadow Reservoir, Nye County, Nevada

John in new tube, snow-capped Egan Range in background 

As the strange weather patterns for southern Nevada continued, I was looking for an opening to try my new Outlaw Escape on the reservoirs of Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area. The winds are usually the problem there as a float tube is a must to effectively fish Wayne Kirch, and kick-paddling a tube in fifteen mph winds is an unhappy chore. Finally I saw a break in the windy weather, but it brought with it one of the warmest April Fools days we’ve seen for a while. That meant light waders and shirt-only fishing.

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Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area

Egan Mountain Range northeast of Cold Springs Reservoir

This past fishing season I concentrated more than usual on fishing streams rather than reservoirs. It was a conscious decision to get back to my fishing roots. Fishing the East Walker River for the first time was a rewarding experience, but all the trout I caught were just about twelve inches; respectable but not what I was used to catching in the lakes and reservoirs I frequent (excluding the local Cold Creek pond, of course). This year I made two trips to Mammoth Creek, and one each to Beaver River and Beaver Dam Creek. Those last four stream fishing encounters, while enjoyable, came up a little lame in the “fish caught” category. As the fall season was moving into its final month I thought I deserved a final still water fling with large trout.

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Haymeadow Reservoir – Nye County, Nevada

The velvety look of sage in springtime from Haymeadow Reservoir

Brian has finished his first year at UNLV and is awaiting the end of the primary school year before he starts full time as a YMCA summer camp counselor. He’s also scheduled to start summer school in a couple of weeks; he’s trying to get a head start on a five-year engineering degree. So he has just a few weeks to relax before his summer gets busy.  And with our Budget Hearing looming next week I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to take a day, or more accurately an afternoon, to introduce Brian to the trout at Wayne Kirch.

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Haymeadow Reservoir – Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area

Classic coloring on sixteen-inch Wayne Kirch rainbow

I made several visits to Cold Creek through the winter, more than usual. Looking back, those “urban” pond visits were not so much winter depravation fishing as much as I really enjoyed the new seven-and-one-half foot four weight rod I built last winter. It can cast delicately as well as forcefully, and it is light enough that freshly stocked trout put a respectable bend in it, but it also has enough backbone to handle large trout. Put simply, it’s just fun to fish with. Even when I am tubing on large reservoirs, fishing that calls for nine foot rods, five weight or heavier to cast big bugs and mid-size streamers, I’m finding myself grabbing for the new rod to take as a backup. At least that was the case on this trip.

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Haymeadow Reservoir, Wayne Kirch WMA

Haymeadow benches and sign in memory of J. R. Hanson

I stole another “sanity” day from work to fish Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (KWMA) on Thursday. My boss told me to take time off now since the next six months will be too busy to allow it. I didn’t say it at the time but I thought, “Heck, it’s always that way around here… it never lets up.” Nonetheless, with her permission I took advantage of the hole in my schedule to sample the fall weather at the KWMA.

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Haymeadow Reservoir, Wayne Kirch WMA

A placid Haymeadow Reservoir; a rare windless day on Wayne Kirch.

Last week’s fishing report from the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) said that trout fishing at the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area had slowed; PowerBait was the bait of choice as flies and lures were having minimal success. I don’t always believe fishing reports because so many variables enter into them. Some of these sites have drop boxes for anglers to leave their personal results (I have filled out a card or two, but usually don’t). Game wardens in the area can interview anglers and inspect catches, but that depends on the timing of their visits. Generally, the fishing reports are good indicators, but they are not absolute.

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Cold Springs & Haymeadow Reservoirs – Wayne Kirch WMA

Haymeadow boat launch area

I so enjoy the fall weather. It may be the anticipation of getting past the dreadfully hot Las Vegas summers. It may be the colorful reds, yellows, and oranges that decorate the deciduous trees that typically line bodies of water. Or, it could be the urgent activity that the birds and wildlife seem to exhibit as they prepare for winter. Maybe that’s it. Perhaps it is the renewed energy the trout display as they press through fall obsessively feeding to prepare for winter. Whatever it is, it also compels me to fish one last time before the freeze sets in. October 27 seemed like a good day to take one last sip from the 2008 fishing chalice.

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Cold Springs Reservoir – Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area

Heavy Cold Spring rainbow – eighteen inches!!

Watching the fishing and weather reports told me that early May was a good time to fish the lower elevation trout reservoirs. The lowest elevation at which lakes can hold trout year-round is about 5,000 feet. For example, Baker Reservoir (Washington County, Utah) is about 4,900 feet, Wayne Kirch (Nye County, Nevada) is about 5,100 feet, and Cold Creek (Clark County, NV) is about 5,800 feet. Trout become pretty lethargic when the water temperature in these lower reservoirs reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so spring and fall are the best times to fish them. Summer is too hot, and the reservoirs are high enough to freeze over in the winter.

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Cold Springs Reservoir – Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area – Sunnyside, NV

Sixteen-inch male rainbow with kyped jaw

It had been two years since my maiden trip to Wayne Kirch. I had wanted to return last year, but the weather and timing never got in synch. In 2005 I had limited success in very cold, windy weather. On that trip I had one good strike from a strong trout that I lost before bringing it to hand, so I knew there were good-sized trout in Cold Springs.

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