Cold Creek, Clark Co., NV

Here is the view in 1977 looking north, from above Cold Creek spring.

In 1977 when I was a junior in college I taught myself how to fly cast on an eight-and-a-half foot, seven-weight fly rod. I had read a book by Joe Brooks about western fly fishing. Brooks lived in Montana where the rivers and trout were large, real large. Brooks recommended the eight-and-a-half foot, seven-weight rod for the wide, open rivers of the west. I was just 20 years old, what did I know about anything? I reasoned if it was good enough for Brooks, it was good enough for me. So, I ordered my first Fenwick rod from a mail order catalog.

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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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Ely, NV – Illipah & Cave Lakes

Sixteen-inch Illipah rainbow

I had been awaiting the arrival of spring weather, and for that lull in the budget season between the March Budget Workshop and the May Budget Hearing, to set up the first fishing trip of the year. I decided to avoid Cumins at this time since the big ‘bows are in spawning mode and not actively feeding. Rather, I decided to return to Illipah Reservoir just off Highway 50 (known as the Loneliest Highway). I got on the road about 10:30 am and arrived at Illipah about 2:30 pm.

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Comins Reservoir – 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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Kolob & Little Reservoirs – Southwesten Utah

A few Kolob sandstone formations on the Kolob Reservoir Road.

I had wanted to go on another fishing trip with my boys for quite a while. Although I doubted they shared my passion, I was not sure that it could not be cultivated. It had been a couple years since I took Brian and his friends to Cave Lake and Great Basin National Park, and about five years since Tom, Doug, and I went on a tour of northeastern Nevada that included the Ruby Marshes, Illipah Reservoir, Cave Lake, Silver Creek, and Great Basin National Park. Now that they were older I thought they might appreciate the experience a little more and be better able to master the technical nuances of fishing. They seemed interested in the trip (or was it just mid-summer boredom), so we planned a mid-week trip around Doug’s days off.

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Illipah Reservoir, White Pine County

Illipah Reservoir from the hilltop campground (note farmers’ truck near shoreline)

This was my second Illipah trip, having quickly fished this reservoir four years ago with sons Doug and Tom, at which time I landed one single rainbow through the thick weeds of the warm summer. On this 2004 trip the late spring weather found the trout feeding in much sparser weeds along the banks. The high temperatures were around seventy, and the lows were in mid thirties, although I lodged overnight at the Best Western in Ely. Although Illipah Reservoir is 6,700 feet in elevation, I found the sparse high-desert flora too monotonous for camping, especially since Ely was just forty miles to the east.

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Henderson Springs – Big Bend, CA

A rainbow from Henderson Springs, maybe over 6 pounds. The largest trout I had ever caught.

My good friend, Bill Bergan, had arranged a trip with six of his clients to fish Henderson Springs as a “thank you” for their business. One of his clients cancelled, and Bill offered me the vacated spot. I didn’t want to intrude on Bill’s business development weekend, and the four-day trip was the weekend before Thanksgiving. It all seemed to come together so quickly that I was slightly antsy about what I was getting into with a bunch of business guys I didn’t know in a place I had never been. Bill must have sensed that I needed more reassurance, and he affirmed that it would be a great trip. With some apprehension, and after consultation with my wife, I graciously accepted.

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Great Basin National Park – Wheeler Peak

An early September snow storm dusted the Wheeler cirque on the 1993 camping trip with Doug and Tom. I sure got my money’s worth out of the 1979 Toyota Hi-Lux 4×4, as primitive as it was back then. It was one of the big reasons I decided on my 2018 Tacoma 4×4. 

Before the Great Basin National Park (GBNP) came into existence in 1986 it was simply known as another National Forrest with a privately owned and operated cave complex named after the miner who discovered it, Absalom Lehman, in the mid-1880s. The park lies within the Snake Mountain Range just east of Ely, NV as it runs along the Nevada-Utah border. The U.S. Congress’ creation of the national park brought the caves into the federal fold. While I am thankful the park is protected, it is also true that such status creates a higher level of interest. Thankfully, its remoteness minimizes some of the throngs.

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Cave Lake State Park – Ely, NV

Tom, me, and Doug in front of the Cave Lake boat dock – June 2000.

My brother Neal is responsible for my development as an outdoorsman. I suspect the seeds were planted as a boy growing up in Hooksett, New Hampshire, but someone needed to water them. In my early teens he took me on my first fishing trip to Kingston Canyon south of Austin, Nevada. He gave me a cheap, ultra-light spinning rod, lures, and a canvas creel and set me loose after just a few minutes of instruction. Neal was never long on patience, and he never really offered to teach me the art of fly fishing. In college I bought several books on fly fishing, and after years of dreaming about it I finally taught myself.

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Beaver Dam Creek, the Early Years

Beaver Dam Creek 100 yards downstream from Schroeder Reservoir spillway, from a May 1982 trip.

Beaver Dam Creek is where I learned the subtleties of fishing a small stream. Stalking is the name of the game on that modest creek. It was a fine place to become educated in the way of the trout and the tactics necessary to catch them with a fly.  

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