Low water levels caused by persistent drought conditions and irrigation demands at Wildhorse and Willow Creek Reservoirs have prompted the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners at the request of the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) to remove the limit on game fish, allowing anglers unlimited take. This regulation is in effect May 15, 2014 and will run through February 28, 2015.
NDOW is concerned that with anticipated low reservoir water levels during the hot summer months the oxygen levels in the water could become low enough to cause a large number of the trout to die. In addition to the possibility of a near total die off of trout, significant impacts are also expected for warm-water game fish species.
"With the conditions as they are we expect to lose the majority of the trout at Wildhorse and Willow Creek Reservoirs this summer," said Jon C. Sjöberg, Fisheries Division Chief. "The purpose of this regulation change is to give anglers the maximum opportunity to harvest these fish as soon as possible before conditions get any worse."
This regulation lifting the current restrictions on game fish will allow for a maximum harvest of fish prior to the anticipated summer die off. Trout species, particularly larger trout have higher metabolic rates and lower tolerances to low oxygen levels and high water temperatures associated with summer time water conditions.
The predicted conditions for the summer of 2014 for Wildhorse and Willow Creek Reservoirs are actually worse than those of 2013 when NDOW last removed trout limits, prompting the regulation to remove limits for all game fish. Wildhorse Reservoir was at only 24 percent of capacity in early May and is projected to drop further. Expected downstream irrigation demands and dropping water levels project that a summer fish kill is likely under current conditions.
Wildhorse Reservoir is located 65 miles North of Elko on State Hwy 225 and is one of Northeast Nevada’s largest and most popular fisheries for quality and trophy size trout, including rainbow, bowcutt (hybrid cross of a rainbow and cutthroat trout), brown and tiger trout, smallmouth bass, some largemouth bass, channel catfish, wipers (white bass and striper hybrid), and yellow perch. The fishery is well known for good catch rates and liberal limits, trout harvest that average in length of 16 to 22 inches long and year round angling opportunity throughout the seasons.
Willow Creek Reservoir is a remote warm water reservoir in the Northwest Elko County. It is located off the dirt road between Tuscarora and Midas. This reservoir is known primarily for white crappie that range from 8 to 12 inches. The reservoir also offers opportunity for black bass, channel catfish and cutthroat trout.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.