Map of Washoe Lake
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Washoe Lake is a eutrophic (very productive), shallow water body located between Reno and Carson City. The area is comprised of Big Washoe Lake, Little Washoe Lake, and a marsh area (Scripps Wildlife Management Area) connecting the two. The shallowness of Big Washoe Lake and the daily winds account for its extreme turbidity. Washoe Lake has fallen victim to extensive droughts in the past, the most recent occasion being the drought of 1987-1994, which left the big lake completely dry in 1992, 1994 and then again in 2004.
Washoe Lake covers an area of 5,800 acres when full and the big lake has a maximum depth of 12 feet. It is managed as a warm water fishery and contains white bass, Sacramento perch, channel catfish, brown bullhead catfish, carp, wipers (white bass x striped bass hybrid), and possibly white crappie (they were stocked, but survival has not been confirmed). Fishing is best in late spring, early summer, and early fall. Usually late afternoon is the best time in the spring and fall, while the best fishing in summer occurs at night when the water temperatures tend to cool down. White bass anglers are most successful in August and September. Washoe Lake State Park offers two boat launches, picnic areas, campsites and bathroom facilities. Contact the State Parks office for day use fees or visit their website at www.parks.nv.gov.
Since 2004, when the lake dried up, Big Washoe Lake has been stocked with white bass, channel catfish, wipers, brown bullheads, and white crappie. In 2009, white bass and channel catfish were stocked. No additional stocking will occur in 2012.
Season is open year around, any hour of the day or night. Limit is 10 game fish of which not more than 5 may be catfish. Scripps Wildlife Management Area is closed to trespass February 1 through June 30.
No restrictions on boats, however, at Washoe Lake State Park Boat Ramps: All boat harbors and other areas designated by buoys are zones in which a vessel must be operated at a speed that leaves a flat wake, but in no case may a vessel be operated at a speed in excess of 5 nautical miles per hour. Scripps Wildlife Management Area is closed to all trespass February 1 through June 30. Be wary of changing weather conditions. Washoe Valley regularly experiences high winds in the afternoons, which can pose a hazard to unsuspecting boaters.
Due to elevated methylmercury levels, the Nevada State Health Division has issued a health advisory that recommends no consumption of white bass from Little and Big Washoe lakes.
Washoe Lake is located along U.S. 395 in Washoe Valley between Carson City and Reno. The park can be accessed by turning onto East Lake Blvd from US 395, the newest boat launch is located at the southeast corner of the lake. The old north boat launch, which is a smaller facility, is located at the south end of Lakeshore Drive. From East Lake Blvd, turn west onto Lakeshore Drive, then head south until you reach the park entrance. Little Washoe Lake, located at the north end of East Lake Blvd, also has day use facilities with restrooms and beach areas. The day use fee is good at all three areas. Access to the west side of the lake can be achieved by taking the Bellevue Road exit off US 395.