When it comes to outdoor activities in Southern Nevada, few offer the flexibility of fishing. There is no offseason, and it can be done around the clock. There’s also a variety of settings available to provide opportunities for everyone—from diehard anglers to casual family outings.
With fluctuating waterlines at Lake Mead, though, and changes in season, it helps to know where and when to go, what’s available and what type of bait to use.
“We have no downtime when it comes to fishing,” says Ivy Santee, angler education coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “The only downtime is when the skies open up and it pours on you. And even then the fishing can be really good. You’re only limited by the days you feel like going out.”
The most popular locations are Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, both of which have about 13 species of fish. The catches of choice are striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and channel catfish. There are also panfish such as bluegill, green sunfish and redear sunfish that are great for children to catch.
Smallmouth bass only started appearing in Lake Mead in the last 15 years, and NDOW officials are not certain how they got there. It is suspected that they reached the lake from Lake Powell via the Colorado River. With a population that has grown rapidly, Santee says the fish have been a welcome addition for anglers.
The most popular catch at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave continues to be striped bass. The best seasons for catching stripers are spring and fall when water temperatures are cooler and the larger fish are closer to the surface and shoreline. Early summer is also a great time to catch them at Lake Mead when threadfin shad, the primary food source for stripers, are abundant. The lake is also now home to gizzard shad, which were first discovered in Lake Mead in 2007, providing another food source for stripers.
For those fishing from the shoreline, Lake Mead offers considerably more options than Lake Mohave, which is surrounded largely by cliffs. But with the waterline at Lake Mead receding dramatically in recent years, many popular fishing spots, such as Government Wash, are now high and dry, although the lake has risen about 4 feet over the past month because of heavy rains.
Echo Bay and Hemenway Wall, which has some of the deepest water in Lake Mead, are still great places for shore fishing, while numerous coves remain desirable spots for those who have a boat. Callville Bay, Echo Bay, Lake Mead Marina and Hemenway Harbor are the best spots at Lake Mead for boat launching.
Lake Mead is stocked with trout nearly every week near Hemenway Point, Boulder Harbor and Crawdad Cove; and Lake Mohave is stocked at Placer Cove, Aztec Wash, Hoover Dam and Willow Beach. NDOW closed its fish hatchery at Lake Mead, though, in 2007 after the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in the lake, which led to the decision to cease the stocking of trout this fall for at least two years at both Lake Mead and Lake Mohave while NDOW deals with the mussels problem.
The best time for catching stripers is during predawn hours. The universal bait for catching fish is nightcrawlers or mealworms, but anchovies work well, and trout like PowerBait in the winter. Lures are also a viable way to catch fish.
Other fishing options for Southern Nevadans are at the region’s urban ponds in Floyd Lamb State Park, Sunset Park, Lorenzi Park and Veterans’ Memorial Park in Boulder City. Fish being stocked in these ponds average 7 to 10 inches in length.
Floyd Lamb offers the best options among the urban ponds, with four separate ponds, and rainbow trout and channel catfish can be caught at each of the urban ponds, which also have largemouth bass, bluegill, green sunfish and carp.
From April through October, catfish are stocked into the ponds, while trout are stocked from November through March. In previous years, Santee says, the ponds were stocked every other week, but they are now stocked every week in lesser numbers to maintain a more steady population for anglers.
“The best season for the rainbow trout is after the stocking stops,” Santee says. “April and May are the best times to go fishing.”
One way to keep up with fishing conditions and trends is to join one of the local fishing clubs, such as the Nevada Striper Club (NevadaStriperClub.org) or the Las Vegas Bass Club (LVBassClub.com).
Fishing licenses are required and expire each year at the end of February, and there are numerous types of licenses available.