Carson River - East Fork
Map of Carson River - East Fork
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The East Carson River
originates in the Sierra Nevada in California at higher than 10,000 ft in
elevation. Pioneers (mid to late 1800s)
originally fished for native trout, however, mining activities, logging,
channelization, water diversions, introductions of other fishes, and
overharvesting contributed to the demise of cutthroat trout and limited the
range of mountain whitefish. Rainbow
trout and brown trout have been the primary sport fish since the early 1900’s.
The East Carson River fishery
in Nevada runs 21 miles to its confluence with the west fork near Genoa. The upper portion of the river downstream to
Gardnerville is primarily adjacent to Forest Service land. The river then meanders through private and Washoe
Tribal lands in Carson Valley. The State
of Nevada owns the entire river channel making it open to the public, but be
aware not to trespass on private property to access the river. The river is from 30 to 60 feet wide with the
possibility of having tremendous spring flows (over 1,000 cubic feet per
second, cfs), usually making it impossible for wading until summer when flow
drops between 50 and 150 cfs. Fishing is
generally best at trout stocking sites, which include Ruhenstroth Dam (a.k.a.
Broken Dam), found upstream of Gardnerville, and Centerville Bridge (a.k.a.
Lutheran Bridge) in Gardnerville. This
is a put-and-take fishery and anglers generally catch trout close to the size
they were stocked. The best baits
include Power bait, night crawlers, salmon eggs, small spinners, and
spoons. Fly-fishing at times is best
using dry flies, mayfly and caddisfly nymph patterns, and streamers. Fingerling brown trout are generally stocked
in remote areas upstream of Ruhenstroth Dam and near the NV-CA border, but
fishing is more challenging in this region.
Remote camping is allowed on Forest Service property in the upstream
area, but roads there are rough and can be messy during the spring with melting
Snowpack for the Carson River basin is well below average this year, therefore, moderate flows are predicted which may diminish throughout the summer. Fishing should be best and easiest during spring or late fall when water temperatures are lower.
There are no special boating regulations for the East Carson River. During spring runoff, raft and kayak trips are a popular recreation, with trips beginning near Markleeville, CA and ending above Ruhenstroth Dam, NV. All rafters must exit above Ruhenstroth Dam.
Access to Ruhenstroth Dam and Lutheran Bridge is excellent for all types of vehicles. On Highway 395 in Gardnerville, turn west on Waterloo Lane, then turn south on Centerville Rd. to reach Lutheran Bridge within 0.1 mi. To reach Ruhenstroth Dam, travel south past Gardnerville on Highway 395. About 0.9 mi. past Lahontan National Fish Hatchery turn west on a paved road that leads to the river. River access to remote sites near the border can be reached from either the China Springs turn off or Leviathan Mine Rd. A 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance is highly recommended on these unimproved dirt roads and there are no facilities within miles of these remote river sites.