Catnip Reservoir

Map of Catnip Reservoir

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Catnip Reservoir is located in northern Washoe County on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 50 miles west of Denio Junction. Catnip was constructed in 1910 and was used to irrigate the IXL Ranch. Its secondary function was to provide a waterfowl nesting area. Lahontan cutthroat trout were first stocked into the reservoir in 1947 with the intent of creating a brood stock to be artificially spawned, with eggs reared in state hatcheries. The first recorded spawn took place in 1959, producing 120,080 cutthroat eggs. Over the years, the need to use Catnip Reservoir as a broodstock diminished so, in 1998, Catnip Reservoir was opened to fishing and since then has been managed primarily as a recreational fishery.

Pertinent Information

This 22 surface acre impoundment stored 220 acre-feet of water when first constructed, however the capacity is currently much less due to siltation. The only species present in the lake is Lahontan cutthroat trout, which receive little pressure due to the short fishing season and the lake’s remoteness. Angler survey data shows anglers generally catch from 2.5 to 3.5 fish per day. Most fish average between 12 and 18 inches with a few over 20 inches. Primitive camping occurs at the lake.


3,000 Lahontan cutthroat trout will be stocked in June.


Catnip Reservoir, its tributaries and outlet stream are open to fishing from the second Saturday in June through November 15, any hour of the day or night. Limit is 1 trout. Only artificial lures with single barbless hooks are allowed.

Boating Regulations

Federal regulations for the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge apply, with anglers only allowed to fish from the bank, wade, or use non-motorized boats, boats with electric motors, float tubes, and similar flotation devices.


Catnip Reservoir can be accessed by two routes; through Gerlach, travel north and take State Route 34 for 85 miles to Vya and continue north for 20 miles to Alternate 34, travel east for 15 miles to Catnip Reservoir. From Winnemucca, travel north on US Route 95 for 32 miles, then turn west on State Route 140. Travel 64 miles to Denio Junction and turn west, which is a continuation of SR 140. Drive 36 miles to Alternate 34 and follow the dirt road for 14 miles to Catnip Reservoir.


  • Cutthroat Trout

  • Regions

  • Western Nevada

  • Counties

  • Washoe