Last week we discussed ice safety and I stated that early and late season ice is the most dangerous as it can change quickly. This is due to a number of factors including: larger swings in temperature early and late in the winter, wind, water movement in the lake, springs, snow cover and the thermal load in the water left over from the summer.
Last week was an example of how quickly early ice cover and thickness can change. South Fork was 90-95% ice covered on Wednesday, November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. The open water was along the eastern shore near the main boat ramp. Just two days later, the day after Thanksgiving, the lake was between 85-90% ice covered and by Wednesday, November 30, it was closer to 80-85% ice cover and the ice that was on the lake was mostly the gray porous ice that is so dangerous.
Why did this happen? First and foremost, the daytime highs went from freezing or below to above freezing, even approaching 40 degrees. It was also very sunny and the eastern shoreline gets the most direct afternoon sunlight when the day is warmest. The steep shoreline above the water reflects the heat from the sun into the water helping to raise the temperature. Finally, Thursday found winds pushing 40 mph which helped to break up some of the thinner and rotten ice.
Wildhorse is approximately 1,000 feet higher in elevation and has more of an eastern exposure, and as a general rule, the air temperatures are five to 10 degrees cooler. The eastern exposure means less direct sunlight during the warmest part of the day so it ices up earlier and will have thicker ice than South Fork.
One factor that anglers fail to realize is that once there is ice on the lake, it insulates the water below from the colder air temperatures above and the ice slows down its growth. If snow cover is added to the mix like the snow we received this past Thursday night, it adds more insulation and grows even more slowly.
Early in the season the ice thickness will also be more variable with four or five inches of safe ice in one spot and just a few yards away may be an unsafe two inches in thickness. While the ice at Wildhorse is right about four inches right now, there are spots where it may be thinner. Ice anglers are anxious to get on the ice once it appears to be safe enough, but let’s give it another week or so at Wildhorse just to err on the safe side.
REports for fishing hot spots
For the fishing reports of individual Eastern Region Hot Spots head to our new fishing report database below.
The Truckee, Carson, and Walker rivers have all began to cool with upper elevation low temperatures finally coming down. River fisherman should look forward to an excellent fall on the Truckee and East Walker rivers. Flows are up on the Truckee river from Verdi downstream through Reno and Sparks as many of the hydroelectric diversions are drained. Prime flow and temperatures should hold on the East Walker until the bitter cold really sets in. Caddis and hoppers can provide fly fisherman with some pretty exciting late afternoon surface activity until flows drop for the winter.
Northern Washoe County reservoirs including Wall Canyon and Squaw Creek reservoir can provide anglers with excellent fishing if you’re willing to make the drive. Both trout and bass are eager to chase down spinners and spoons near the dam or inlets until winter really takes hold. If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, the cooler temperatures have allowed us to get back out stocking many of our community ponds.
View all Western Region hot spots
For the fishing reports of all Western Region Hot Spots head to our new fishing report database below.
EAgle Valley Reservoir
Ice continues to thicken for ice fishing access, and snow is expected throughout the weekend. Anglers are dropping jigs through holes off the dam to access deeper water. Check current ice conditions before you head out. Contact Spring Valley State Park at 775-962-5102.
All other fishing hot spots
For the fishing reports of all Southern Region Hot Spots head to our new fishing report database below.
For information about NDOW educational fishing programs and classes, visit https://register-ed.com/programs/nevada/210-angler-education . Fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.ndowlicensing.com.