Nevada Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Apr 16, 2024 | 9 minute read Comment
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Nevada might be known for its casinos and deserts, but it harbors a secret wealth of fishing opportunities that often fly under the radar. While fishing in Nevada might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Silver State, it’s a real jewel in Nevada’s crown. From azure blue lakes to cool mountain streams and sprawling reservoirs, there are various game fish waiting to be caught.

A view across the bow of a fishing boat on the calm waters of Lake Mead, Nevada, at sunset, with the sun visible setting behind some clouds in the distance

The landscape of Nevada is as varied as its fish. Beyond the neon lights of Las Vegas is the shimmering Lake Mead, complemented by the alpine waters of Lake Tahoe. High-desert lakes and streams go through valleys and mountains, offering an immersive experience. These often-overlooked fishing spots offer year-round access and diversity, ideal for all sorts of anglers.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the very best of Nevada’s fishing scene. You’ll get a detailed look at the most sought-after species, the best spots, and the most effective techniques to land your prize catch. Plus, we’ll talk about seasons and regulations to make sure you’re fishing smart. Ready to reel in your next big adventure? Keep reading!

Top Nevada Fish Species

Whether it’s the cool, flowing waters of alpine streams or the deep blue expanse of Lakes Tahoe and Mead, Nevada has it all. Anglers can target a lineup of freshwater superstars, with Trout, Bass, and even Salmon on the menu. Let’s talk about the local favorites in more detail: 

Trout

A man in a baseball cap and sunglasses standing on a fishing boat on Pyramid Lake and holding a Cutthroat Trout on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Pyramid Lake Fishing Trips

Trout fishing in Nevada is an absolute blast. Anglers can switch from fly fishing in streams to trolling for trophies in deep lakes. Brown Trout are known for their elusive nature, but you can find them in great numbers in the Truckee River and its tributaries. Here, Trout often reach sizes between 12 and 20 inches. Large Lake Trout or Mackinaw, on the other hand, grow big in Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake. And we mean big – often over 20 pounds.

Then we have Rainbow Trout who stand out for their gorgeous colors. Rainbows patrol the clear, cool waters of the Eastern Sierra’s streams and the Ruby Mountains, waiting for fly anglers to entice them. They range in size from stream-bred 10-inchers to lake-dwelling giants that can exceed several pounds. 

And finally, there’s the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout – Nevada’s state fish! They live in Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe, often surpassing the 20-pound mark.  

Salmon

A closeup of a number of Kokanee Salmon hanging from a board after being caught on a successful fishing trip in Nevada
Photo courtesy of Three D Fishing

Nevada may be more renowned for its Trout but, for those in the know, it offers surprisingly good opportunities for Kokanee Salmon fishing. A landlocked type of Pacific Sockeye, Kokanee are a freshwater delight. Unlike their anadromous relatives, Kokanee don’t migrate to the ocean. They prefer to stay in the cooler waters of Nevada’s lakes instead. 

The average size of Nevada’s Kokanee Salmon is modest, typically between 1 and 3 pounds. But what they lack in size, they make up for in flavor and fight. These Salmon are known for their rich, red flesh and spirited nature when hooked. 

Fishing for Kokanee requires a mix of patience and strategy. Since these fish typically live in deep waters, finding the right depth is crucial, and can change based on the time of day and year. During spawning in late summer and early fall, Kokanee become more accessible as they move into shallower waters and up into tributary streams.

Bass

A man in a baseball cap standing on dry land next to a lake in Nevada and holding four Striped Bass on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Hooked On Stripers – Lake Mead

The state is home to a variety of Bass species, including Striped, Largemouth, and Smallmouth. Striped Bass, especially prominent in the Mead and Mohave Lakes, are known for their appetites and tend to run large. 

In the realm of Black Bass, Largemouth are the poster child for Bass fishing in Nevada due to their larger average size. On the other hand, Smallmouth Bass lure anglers with their preference for cooler, clearer, and more open waters. Understanding the differences in habitat – such as the Largemouth’s preference for weed lines and cover versus the Smallmouth’s love for rocky outcrops – can lead to successful catches.

Catfish

Two anglers on a boat, posing for a photo with a sizeable Channel Catfish they caught
Photo courtesy of Out of the Blue Aquatic Adventures

Channel Cats are the primary Catfish species in Nevada’s waters and are sought after for their delicious taste. They stand out for their bottom-dwelling habits, whiskered faces, and exceptional sense of smell. You can easily recognize these Cats by their blue-gray colors and deeply forked tails.

These fish thrive in muddy or sandy bottoms of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, where they can hunt or scavenge. The average size of Channel Catfish in Nevada’s waters is respectable, ranging from 2 to 10 pounds, though well-stocked waters hold Cats exceeding 30 pounds.

Seasoned anglers usually go after them at night or during low-light periods when Catfish are most active. You can look for them in the drop-offs, inflowing streams, and sheltered bays in the Colorado River systems, Lake Mead, and Lake Mohave. 

Panfish

A closeup of a woman in sunglasses and a baseball cap holding two large Panfish on dry land next to a lake on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Andre Casey Fishing Guide Service

Panfish fishing is perfect for children and novices, as well as those seasoned anglers seeking a relaxed day on the water. This family of fish includes White and Black Crappie, Perch, and Sunfish

White and Black Crappies typically school in the weedy shallows of lakes and ponds. Perch are smaller but have a tendency to school in deeper water. Meanwhile, Sunfish are also on the smaller side but are still a rewarding catch for younger anglers and anyone looking to take home a tasty treat. 

The best spots for Panfish are typically more calm, sheltered areas of lakes such as the Lahontan and Echo Canyon Reservoirs. Lake Mead and Lake Mohave also offer good Panfish opportunities, particularly in backwaters and sheltered coves.

How to Go Fishing in Nevada

So, now that you know what to catch, the question is, how to do it? Whether you’re on the deck of a charter boat, casting from a shoreline, fly fishing in a stream, or sitting by a hole in the ice (yes, really!), the opportunities are endless. It’s time to explore the most popular types of fishing in Nevada…

Charter Fishing in Nevada

A view across the water towards a fishing charter on a lake in Nevada at sunset on a clear day, with the sun setting in the distance behind a mountain
Photo courtesy of Pyramid Lake Fishing Trips

Nothing beats booking a Nevada fishing charter. You benefit from the guidance and expertise of local captains who know the waters best. With Lake Tahoe and Lake Mead as top destinations, charter fishing brings you an experience like no other. You’ll get to focus on what’s important – the fishing – while enjoying some stunning surroundings.

When fishing with a charter, the captain and crew provide you with the appropriate gear and knowledge of effective techniques, all tailored to the current fishing conditions. Trolling is a popular method when targeting Trout or Bass in larger lakes, while jigging or bait fishing is often used for Catfish or Panfish. Try out a number of methods to reel in your desired fish!

Shore Fishing in Nevada

Fishing from shore is a relaxing way to enjoy the state’s natural beauty while waiting for a bite. Nevada boasts a number of spots for shore anglers. The Boulder Beach area on Lake Mead, for example, is renowned for its Striped Bass and Catfish. But you can also explore waters as diverse as the urban ponds of Las Vegas and Reno. 

Successful shore fishing often depends on understanding the behavior of fish during different times of the day and seasons. Still-fishing with bait, casting lures, and using bobbers are popular methods along Nevada’s shores. Live bait like worms or artificial bait such as spinners can also be effective. Pack a versatile medium-action rod and away you go!

Fly Fishing in Nevada

A man in mid-action, casting a fly fishing rod on a river in Nevada, with a green shoreline visible in the distance on a cloudy day

Fly fishing in Nevada is a dream come true for any aficionado. The state has numerous streams and rivers suitable for every fly angler, with the Truckee River and the clear currents of the Ruby Mountains standing out. Not only that, but few bodies of water can surpass the majesty of the Trout-rich East Walker River, which flows between Nevada and California. 

The success of fly fishing lies in the delicate balance of skill and equipment. A typical setup includes a fly rod, reel, specialized line, and artificial flies. These are crafted to resemble local insects that are virtually irresistible to Trout and other species. Techniques such as dry fly fishing, nymphing, and streamer fishing are also popular. Learning the nuances of these techniques can transform a novice into a pro!

Ice Fishing in Nevada

Ice fishing is a winter tradition in Nevada – a tranquil escape and challenging experience all in one. The action typically begins once the ice is thick enough to safely support anglers and their gear, usually in the depth of winter. The Wildhorse and South Fork reservoirs are popular spots for ice fishing, offering the chance to catch Trout, Perch, and even the occasional Northern Pike.

A typical setup includes augers to drill fishing holes, portable shelters, and ice rods which are shorter and more sensitive to detect subtle bites. Plus, echo sounders or sonars can be pretty useful tools for locating fish. Of course, heading out with a local guide is always a good idea!

Top Nevada Fishing Spots

A view from a rocky shoreline in eastern Lake Tahoe of the crystal clear waters and snow-capped mountains in the distance

Whether it’s the deep blue of Lake Tahoe, the alpine serenity of the Ruby Mountains, or the beauty of desert lakes, Nevada caters to every angler. The state is blessed with 113 lakes and reservoirs along with 420 streams and rivers, covering nearly 400,000 surface acres of fishing ground. Here are our top ten picks for where to cast a line:

  • Lake Tahoe. Undoubtedly the crown jewel of Nevada’s fishing scene, this lake is a year-round haven. Anglers can hunt for Mackinaw Trout, Kokanee Salmon, and Rainbows in crystal-clear waters – with guided charters leading the way.
  • Pyramid Lake. On the Paiute Reservation, Pyramid Lake stands out for its unique ladder fishing and record-breaking Lahontan Cutthroats. 
  • Lake Mead. Stretching between Nevada and Arizona, Lake Mead is a Bass angler’s paradise. The lake’s Overton Arm is particularly rich with Stripers, Largemouth Bass, and a variety of Panfish.
  • Eagle Valley Reservoir. Out in Eastern Nevada, the frozen surface of Eagle Valley Reservoir in winter months offers a unique ice fishing experience. In warmer seasons, the reservoir is great for catching Rainbow Trout, too.
  • Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. A nice surprise in Nevada, this refuge hosts a diversity of Trout species. Here, fishing is as calm as it gets, with the sounds of waterfowl as a pleasant backing soundtrack.
  • Truckee River. Flowing from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, this river is a fly fisherman’s delight. The Truckee is known for dynamic changes in flow and temperature, perfect for Rainbow and Brown Trout.
  • Great Basin National Park. Nestled against Nevada’s highest peaks, Great Basin National Park is famous among both stargazers and anglers. Here, high mountain lakes are stocked with various Trout species.

Nevada Fishing Seasons

Spring in Nevada marks the beginning of the best Trout fishing of the year, so this is when anglers flock to the Silver State. With the arrival of summer‘s heat, the fish retreat to the cooler, deeper waters. This is the perfect time to target Bass at Lake Mead or pursue the native Cutthroat Trout at Pyramid Lake. Summer is also the best time to fish for Catfish, which become more active during warm nights in the Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area.

Fall ushers in the spawning season for Brown and Brook Trout, which makes streams and rivers like the Truckee and Walker especially rewarding for anglers. Winter might seem like the off-season for some but, in Nevada, it’s a time when the waters quiet down and ice fishing takes center stage.

Nevada Fishing Rules and Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of Nevada followed by text that says "Nevada Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" along with the FishingBooker logo against a blue background

To fish in Nevada, everyone aged 12 and older must have a valid fishing license. You can get yours online at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) licensing page, through a licensed agent, or at an NDOW office.

You also need to pay attention to bag and possession limits, which vary by species and location. For example, general state-wide limits apply to certain species such as Trout, Bass, and Catfish. However, special regulations may exist for particular bodies of water, like Lake Tahoe or Lake Mead. Feel free to consult with your guide before you head out on the water. 

Fishing in Nevada: Casts and Contrasts in the Silver State

A view from behind of a silhouette of a boy fishing against the backdrop of a lake in Nevada at sunset with the sun having just disappeared in the distance

Nevada may hold the title for the driest state in America, but its fishing scene is full of surprises. Fishing in Nevada is diverse – from the expanse of Lake Mead to the serene Ruby Mountains. The local waters always call for one more cast and one more adventure. Are you ready for your quest? Book a trip and write your next big story!

Have you ever been fishing in Nevada? What’s your favorite target? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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Mother Nature

Jul 2, 2024

OPEN YUCCA MOUNTAIN! PRAISE THE LORD! IF JESUS WAS HERE HE WOULD OPEN YUCCA MOUNTAIN! I am willing to help open Yucca! $75.00 per hour start pay!

Anyway. The rear part of the lake should have a dam past the old hotel going closer to the main lake. The Dam would give road access to the other side with LED lights. Where is my gold? It went to build the Dam! Nobody would ever know! The hotel could be rebuilt with scuba lessons in the bay. The Lake could be cleaned with Industrial bleach via a barrel or several thousand! The EPA could look the other way and will! The rear part could have new beaches and new modular homes for Federal retired employees, Native Americans and Micronesians! Maybe a love connect would start. Everything could be subsidized or FREE! I know there is lots of GOLD in a bunker in this state! Also. opening Yucca would fund this project with ease. FREE HOMES FOR RETIRED FEDERAL WORKERS?????

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