Map of Marlette Lake
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Click here to view a story map on Marlette Lake and its spawning operation.
Marlette Lake was constructed in 1873 when a small earthen dam was erected at the outlet of a broad glaciated-basin that naturally drained into Lake Tahoe. In 1959, the dam was raised reaching its present height of 45 feet. The lake has several uses; water is conveyed via a series of open flumes and pipes (inverted siphon) to Virginia City for domestic water use, along with supplying Carson City with drinking water. The State of Nevada purchased Marlette Lake and the surrounding land in 1963, allowing for backcountry recreation. Fishing was then allowed in 2006. Finally, the lake is used as a brood lake for rainbow and cutthroat trout where spawning operations occur annually and offspring are used to stock waterbodies around the state.
Marlette lake covers 381 surface acres and has a maximum depth of 45 feet. Brook trout were introduced in the 1880’s, Lahontan cutthroat trout in 1964, and Tahoe strain rainbow trout in 1984. Rainbow trout range between 12 and 18 inches, cutthroat trout between 12 and 20 inches, and brook trout between 10 and 18 inches. Successful lures include small spinners and spoons and popular flies include wooly buggers, leech patterns, pheasant tail, hare’s ears, Sheep Creek specials, and prince nymphs. Marlette Lake is closed to vehicles and anglers must walk, mountain bike, or ride horseback about of 5 miles (from Spooner Lake, the most popular route) to reach the lake. Although it is extra work, some anglers still pack in a float tube to make fishing easier in open water. There are no services or overnight camping at the lake, but Nevada State Parks allows backcountry camping at nearby Marlette Peak, which has water, a restroom, tables, fire rings, and bear resistant storage boxes.
Only vessels without motors are permitted.
Biologist Forecast for 2013
During summer, fishing is generally very good from just before dawn to mid-morning, but slows considerably after that, picking up again in the evening. Fishing can be good all day during fall. Rainbow and brook trout should average about 13 inches and cutthroat trout 15 inches.