Put money into heat, dry out of doors gear

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This is the last fishing report of the year and I hope that everyone had a great year full of fantastic fishing. 2022 is finishing off the year with a bang, precipitation wise, with all northern Nevada basins reporting well over 100% of the long-term median in snowpack and water year to date precipitation.

The one issue this week was how warm it got after the deep freeze we experienced earlier in December. While it is 30 to 40 degrees warmer than it was a few weeks ago, this may be more dangerous to outdoor recreation in a couple of ways.

This change in weather should remind outdoor enthusiasts that care should be taken when heading out to enjoy the great outdoors. Not only should the appropriate survival gear be taken, like chains, shovels, water and food, but anglers should also understand the danger of hypothermia and how to prevent and detect it.

Hypothermia occurs, when the core body temperature falls below 95 degrees, only three degrees below normal. If the body continues to cool, blood is withdrawn from the extremities to the core to keep the vital organs and brain alive. Wet, cool conditions are generally the cause of hypothermia.

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Staying dry and dressing in layers with clothing appropriate for the weather is the best way to prevent hypothermia. Some synthetics such as polypropolene as a base layer can wick moisture away from the body keeping the skin dry.

Soft, fine wools, such as merino wool, also make good base layers as they retain heat even when wet. Modern techniques, combined with the merino wool, make this base layer soft and supple, not scratchy like the wool of our grandfathers.

Insulating layers of wool or one of the many synthetic materials available, over either the synthetic or natural wool base layer, help hold heat in even if wet. Avoid cotton clothing at all costs, including cotton long underwear, which hold water but provide no heat when wet. The body loses heat 24 times faster than normal when wet. An uncovered head loses 40 percent of the body’s heat, so make sure to wear a hat.

The outer shell should be water and windproof to keep the insulating layers dry and hold heat in. Fabrics that “breathe,” such as Goretex, allow moisture caused by perspiring to be vented through the fabric while keeping external moisture and the wind at bay. Well worth the investment.

Steelhead anglers have a saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” Not necessarily true, but it does remind us that the investment in good outdoor clothing and gear can be a life saver.

Avoid alcohol when outside in cold conditions. Not only does it impair your ability to reason, causing poor decisions which can lead to hypothermia, but it causes the blood vessels near the skin to dilate, which speeds up the loss of body heat.

Take stock of the weather before you head out, have good quality weather appropriate clothing, use common sense and have a great safe start to the new year.

The ice at Wildhorse was approximately eight inches thick at the state park boat ramp earlier this week with anglers reporting eight to 10 inches at other places around the lake. The snow that was on the ice combined with warmer weather and a bit of rain this week to make for some slushy conditions for ice anglers. Make sure to have good waterproof boots if heading to Wildhorse for a bit of ice fishing this weekend. The daytime highs are forecast to drop below freezing starting this Sunday here so hopefully the slush will freeze making for better fishing conditions. It is recommended that with some of the variable thickness of the ice here that anglers wait a bit more for thicker ice before putting ATV’s or snowmobiles on the ice. Fishing continues to be good to very good for 17 to 18-inch trout that are fat and chunky. Fish up to 25 inches have been reported by a few anglers. Perch fishing has been slow with few taken. Those that have been caught have been small averaging less than five inches and the bite has been inconsistent. Historically there is good trout fishing from Hendricks arm south to Hot Creek along the east side of the lake. Fishing around the island off the state park boat ramp is also a popular area that produces trout. Dead sticking or jigging worms or PowerBait two to six feet below the ice can be productive for trout. If fishing for perch, look for water ranging between 25 and 35 feet deep and fish just off the bottom using a small piece of worm on a small soft plastic jig. Lift the rod tip up few inches every minute or so in a jigging action to entice the perch. Often there will be a bite as the bait settles down. However, expect fishing for yellow perch through the ice to be extremely slow due to the fishery recovering from the spring 2022 die-off.

With the warm weather this past week, there has been little ice growth and even some melting. The main boat ramp cove and the east side of the reservoir has unsafe ice and anglers are urged to stay off the ice here. However, the ice on the south and west end of the lake has been averaging six to seven inches, though caution is recommended as the ice thickness is variable especially with the recent weather pattern. Anglers report fair to good fishing for 15 to 18-inch fish through the ice, though it is recommended that test holes be drilled before venturing too far onto the ice as South Fork ice thickness is more variable than at Wildhorse. Daytime highs are expected to drop below freezing starting New Year’s Day so hopefully ice conditions will improve. However, we can’t stress it enough, please drill test holes before going to far onto the ice here. Soft plastic jigs tipped with a worm as well as just worms on a bare hook fished below a bobber seem to be working well. A few anglers report having luck with worms hooked on red hooks. Might be worth a try both here and at other waters.

No report on the lake itself, but the road conditions were poor at the IL mailboxes last week and with the recent precipitation and weather, and anglers should expect 4WD driving conditions from the mailboxes all the way to the lake. Water conditions here are generally similar to South Fork so there may be ice of variable thicknesses with the possibility of some safe ice. If the ice does appear safe be sure to drill some test holes before venturing upon it. Once the ice is safe anglers can expect fair to good ice fishing this winter for 12 to 16-inch trout. Use the same techniques and baits as at Wildhorse and South Fork.

Harrison Pass is not passable so access to the Refuge is through Secret Pass. There has been little change here. At last report, the main boat ramp had approximately four inches of ice and with the warmer weather of the past week, combined with the wind, the ice may not be safe. Drill test holes before venturing too far. The marsh is there because of the springs and the water comes out of the ground around 51 degrees, so the ice is very variable due to this. Proceed onto the ice with caution. No report on how fishing has been. The collection ditch has a fair amount of ice at the north end starting at Bressman cabin. The south end of the ditch also has some some pockets of ice though with warmer daytime highs, it may open up just a bit. There is still open water at various spots along the ditch for fishing and anglers can expect fair to good fishing for 15 to 20-inch trout with an occasional fish over 20 inches. Chironomid patterns such as zebra midges, red butt buzzers, chironocones and ice cream cones should catch fish. Other flies such as leech patterns, balanced leeches, crystal buggers, #14-16 hare’s ears, #16-18 PT nymphs and scuds fished under an indicator are recommended. Expect fair to good fishing for Spin anglers should be using small spinners in black or olive with contrasting yellow or red colors as well as small minnow imitations. With the colder water temperatures anglers should slow down their presentations as the fish are moving slower this time of year. The collection ditch is artificial lures only, no bait. Wading is not allowed in the ditch.

JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIR

Jake Creek is ice covered with approximately ten inches of ice at last report and anglers report good fishing for 10 to 16-inch trout using worms or PowerBait jigged slowly a few feet below the ice. Expect slushy ice early this weekend with the colder weather starting on New Year’s Day freezing the surface making for slick walking conditions. The road in may be muddy until the freeze. Use 4WD and bring chains and a shovel.

The reservoir is 98% covered with three to five inches of ice. There was some open water where the creek comes into the reservoir. The ice thickness fluctuates a fair amount here so anglers should use caution and drill test holes as they advance upon the ice. Anglers can expect to catch eight to 10-inch rainbow or tiger trout here.

Cave Lake is lowered to minimum and unfishable. Fish stocking will resume once the dam repairs are completed. Cave Lake is closed to fishing due to shorelines that are very soft and dangerous due to the complete saturation of the soil. For more information on Cave Lake, please contact the NDOW Ely Field Office.

Very little change here except with the warmer temperatures, expect slush and water on top of the ice making walking a challenge. With the below freezing daytime highs starting on New Year’s day the ice may be slick on top and traction devices for walking may be a good idea. At last report Comins Lake was covered in ice ranging from five to six inches with a few areas that have weak ice, especially in the north lake, so caution is the name of the game here. Drill test holes before venturing too far out. Cold nighttime temperatures have helped this week, but with daytime highs above freezing over the next week, ice growth will be slow. Fishing has been good on both the north and south lakes for 14 to 18-inch rainbow trout through the ice with an occasional brown or tiger trout. Anglers should carry safety gear such as ice cleats, safety spikes, a throw rope and other safety equipment when venturing upon the ice. Pike fishing through the ice should be fair this winter. Anglers, please note that NDOW has placed radio tags in several Northern Pike. These pike will have an orange Floy tag near their dorsal fin and a small antenna (~ 7 inches long) coming from their stomach. Please return these fish to the water for research purposes. All other pike should be humanely dispatched. There is no limit on the pike.

This lake was covered with approximately five inches of solid ice at last report. With the recent weather, there has been little ice growth and depending upon when you go, it may be either very wet on top of the ice or very slick. Please use caution and drill test holes as you venture upon the ice. Expect 4WD to get into the lake with the recent weather conditions. Expect fair to good fishing for eight to 12-inch rainbow trout and the occasional brown trout. Nightcrawlers, PowerBait, and a variety of jigs have all been working.

The road is closed for the winter and the lake is ice covered. There will be no reports until late spring or early summer depending upon weather and snow conditions.

Those wanting to hike into the Rubies will find very deep snow conditions, very cold temperatures and only experienced back country trekkers should attempt to get away from the roads. The lakes are ice covered and there will be no more fishing reports until late next spring or early in the summer depending upon snow conditions this year.

Access to the fishable parts of streams is very difficult due to recent weather conditions. With the afternoon thaws, travelers in the backcountry may have to battle mud in addition to the snow. Carry chains and a shovel and be prepared to spend the night. Please leave a trip plan with someone responsible so that if you don’t return home someone can start looking for you. If anglers get to the streams expect ice and snow making fishing difficult. With the cold water temperatures the fish are moving slower and anglers should slow their presentations down. Lamoille Canyon access is by snowshoe, skis or snow mobile due to snow which is currently about three feet deep at the Snotel site in the canyon. Access to both the Bruneau and Jarbidge Rivers is now through Idaho due to snow conditions. Access the Jarbidge through Rogerson, Idaho north of Jackpot and access the Bruneau through Grasmere, Idaho north of Owyhee. As of Dec. 30, the East Fork of the Owyhee was flowing at 7.57 below Wildhorse dam, while the station near Mountain City is showing ice. The Bruneau River and Jarbidge Rivers are also showing ice. Salmon Falls Creek at 58.5.0 cfs, Lamoille Creek station showing ice, the South Fork of the Humboldt at 13.9 cfs, Cleve Creek at 4.86, Steptoe Creek at 1.58 cfs and Kingston Creek at 2.10 cfs.