Washoe Lake

Washoe Lake is a very shallow, productive water body located between Reno and Carson City. The area is comprised of Big Washoe Lake, Little Washoe Lake, and a large marsh (Scripps Wildlife Management Area) connecting the two. The shallowness of Big Washoe Lake and the strong daily winds account for its extreme turbidity. Washoe Lake has fallen victim to extensive droughts in the past, which left the big lake completely dry multiple times over the past 20 years.

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Type of water
Lake or Reservoir
Fishing Report

Stocking of several thousand channel catfish and white crappie along with half a million juvenile white bass has occurred in both Little Washoe Lake and Washoe Lake during the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons. Few of these fish have shown up in angler surveys due to the extended drought and low water in little Washoe. Expect slow fishing with some areas being more productive than others with the continued low water.


Pertinent Information

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, carp, wipers (white bass x striped bass hybrid), and white crappie. 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 temperature cools down. White bass anglers are most successful in August and September. Fishing for channel catfish is also popular with chicken livers and nightcrawlers the most productive baits. Birding is a very popular recreation, with many different species occurring seasonally and having several marshy areas to observe them. Washoe Lake State Park offers boat launching ramps (big and little lakes), picnic areas, campsites, and bathroom facilities.