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Joe's Fishing Hole: The basics of boat etiquette
Anthony Bauer caught this 24-inch trout at South Fork on May 13.
Memorial Day Weekend is the first big boating weekend of the year. And with the influx of new boat owners over the past year, many don’t understand what is involved in launch ramp etiquette. Here are some basics. If you are new to this great family sport, get out during slow times and practice launching and loading your boat when you won’t be holding other boaters up.The boat landing is divided into three areas. First, there is the pre-launch area or the ready lane. This is where you should prepare your boat for launching. Next is the ramp, where the boat is actually launched into or retrieved from the water. Finally there is the parking area where the boat and trailer are stored while boaters are on the water.The pre-launch or ready lane is where you prepare your boat for the water so that a minimum of time is spent launching the boat into the water. Remove tie-downs and the engine support. This is also a good place to disconnect the trailer lights so they don’t short when submerged. Now is the time to load and stow any gear that will be taken onto the water. Check your boating systems such as the bilge pumps, lights, horn, tilt motor and steering. Make ready any ropes and fenders and of course don’t forget to install the drain plug!Once you are ready and it is your turn at the launch ramp, get the vehicle and trailer lined up and back down the ramp far enough that the inlet for the engine cooling water is covered so that when the motor is started, the engine is getting cooled. The trailer should also be far enough in the water so that the boat is starting to float off the trailer.Disconnect the safety chain and winch hook, lower the motor into the water and start the engine, letting it warm up a bit and back the boat off of the trailer. If you are launching the boat by yourself, obviously put the vehicle in park and set the parking brake before leaving the vehicle and getting into the boat. Tie the boat up at the end of the dock and park your vehicle and trailer, and return directly to the boat.If you have help, the person driving the boat should take the vessel a short way from the launch ramp to allow others to launch their boats and the driver should go park the rig. Once the driver returns to the dock, the boat may approach the dock allowing the person to board.Reverse this process as you load the boat back onto the trailer taking care to not set the trailer too deep into the water. Line up the bow of the boat with the center of the trailer, driving the boat onto it slowly and letting the boat settle before winching it further.Attach the bow strap and safety chain, make sure to raise the outboard up before driving up the ramp and clear the ramp areas as quickly as possible. Once up in the parking lot, reconnect the trailer lights, attach the tie down straps and remove any gear that isn’t stowed away on the boat. Remove the drain plug to allow the boat to drain. Finally clean, drain and dry the boat, as well as flush the engine with fresh water to help prevent the spread of invasive species.If you are a new boater, practice this at the lake during the week when it isn’t as busy, if you are able. If an experienced boater and you see a novice having trouble, please be patient and if comfortable with it, ask if they would like some help.WildhorseFishing should be good here through June, but if we don’t get some regular precipitation, late July and August could get ugly here. Very little change here as fishing has been good for trout and perch and fair to good for bass. Surface water temperatures are in the mid-50s. Fly rodders have had success with balanced leeches and chironomids. Expect buggers and small nymphs such as copper Johns, hares ears and PT’s to all be working. Bait anglers should be using worms fished off the bottom in water that is four to eight feet deep or suspended about five feet below a bobber. Small spinners should also be effective. Bass anglers have had success with orange pumpkin and green pumpkin soft plastics as well as perch-colored crankbaits. Fish for bass on structure, while trout are still being caught close to shore. With the release of water from the dam, stream flows were 100 cfs below the dam on Thursday. This will make wading the river difficult, but fishing from shore where there is access should be tried. No black bass may be kept until July 1. They must be released immediately after being caught. Approximately 23,000 trout were planted in Wildhorse this week.South Fork ReservoirRecent precipitation and the cooler temperatures late in the week helped hold the surface water temperatures to around 60 degrees, perfect trout temperatures. Fishing for both trout and bass continues to be fair to good. Anglers are having success with both worms and PowerBait catching fish averaging 15 to 18 inches and a few over 20. Flies that have caught fish include leech patterns, red copper Johns, wooly buggers, hares ears and chironomids (midge larva) patterns. Midges are hatching with this warm weather and can make up almost 50% of a trout’s diet on our high desert reservoirs year-round and up to 80% in the spring and fall. Fly rodders should be fishing midge patterns for success. Ice cream cones, red butt buzzers, red and silver zebra midges, red brassies and frostbite chironomids are all working. Red seems to be the magic color. Fishing at Jet Ski Beach has been fair to good depending upon the day. Fishing on either side of the dam has been good as has been the south end of the lake where the river empties into the lake. Flows in the river above and below South Fork were approximately 150 cfs on Thursday, May 20. Definitely fishable flows and expect fishing to be fair to good in the river. The boat ramp at Jet Ski Beach is not useable due to a drop off at the end of the ramp which will get your trailer tires stuck. No black bass may be kept until July 1. They must be released immediately after being caught.JIGGS/ZUNINO RESERVOIRThe lake has very low water levels and a soft muddy shoreline. There was a trout die off last summer, so no trout are left here. A few blue gill and bass, but no report on how fishing is. The shorelines are soft and muddy. NDOW is planning a fish salvage here the first week of June as the lake will probably dry up this summer. Fish salvaged will be moved to other waters in the area.WILSON RESERVOIRWith surface water temperatures approaching 60 degrees, fishing for trout has been good and bass has been fair. For the bait anglers, worms seem to be working better than PowerBait for trout. Spin fishermen should be using black spinners with gold blades. Fly rodders were having good luck with purple wooly buggers. Since Wilson often fishes similar to South Fork, bring the chironomid patterns. Dark colored soft plastics and fire tiger/perch colored crankbaits are working for bass. The water level is down about 6 feet, and chances are that the lake won’t spill this year. The road has been graded and is in good condition.RUBY LAKE NWRNo change here as trout fishing has been fair to good depending upon the day and location, with good water levels. Bass fishing is fair but picking up. Fish are being caught with leech patterns, balanced leeches, crystal buggers, #14-16 hare’s ears, and #16-18 PT nymphs. Other flies working include the usual small nymphs, olive soft hackles, red or blue copper Johns, and prince nymphs. On warm afternoons if you see insects hatching, switch to midge emergers, blue wing olive emergers as well as the usual assortment of dry flies. Small brightly colored spinners were doing fair to good for spin fishermen. Anglers may now fish the water behind and downstream of the hatchery. Please follow the signs for access and don’t walk through the hatchery itself.JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIRExpect good fishing for trout and fair conditions for bass. The usual worms and PowerBait, as well as small spinners, rooster tails, and panther Martins should work. Fly rodders should be using black or olive wooly buggers or leech patterns, hares ears, PT nymphs and chironomid patterns. This water was stocked with 3,000 trout two weeks ago.COLD CREEK RESERVOIRCold Creek Reservoir is now at minimum pool due to outlet structure repair being done by Kinross. There is very little water and is mostly ice free.CAVE LAKECave Lake is sitting approximately 15 feet below normal water level. Fishing has been good here using worms, PowerBait or small spinners. Fly rodders should be using small nymphs, chironomids or buggers. Expect soft, muddy shorelines though they are starting to dry out. Cave Lake was stocked with approximately 5,000 rainbow trout in late April.COMINS LAKEWork is being done to put in an improved boat ramp at Comins which is affecting access to the lake. Do not expect to be able to launch a large boat for the foreseeable future as volunteers and contractors are cutting brush and moving dirt to prepare for the boat ramp. This is taking place where people have usually launched boats and that area is currently not accessible. Starting May 21, there will be trenching and the installation of power along the entrance road and anglers should expect occasional road closures in this area. Very little change here as far fishing conditions which has been good this spring with 16-to-20-inch Rainbow Trout being caught. Bass fishing has picked up and is good. Anglers will do well on nightcrawlers, a variety of spinners, wet flies behind a bubble, and even PowerBait. Minnow imitations and large streamer patterns have been working for northern pike, many of which have been staged for spawning on the southeast shoreline. 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 coming from their stomach. Please return these fish to the water for research purposes. If the pike doesn’t have the transmitter tag, please humanely dispatch the fish. Do not put it back in the lake. Comins Lake was recently stocked with approximately 3,500 rainbow trout.ILLIPAHThe water level is down about three feet as water is being taken out for irrigation. Fishing continues to be good here. Anglers will do well on nightcrawlers, spinners, and PowerBait. Fly rodders should be using olive or black wooly buggers, black leeches, red copper Johns, GR hares ears, PT nymphs and prince nymphs. Illipah was stocked with approximately 8,000 rainbow trout in late April.STREAMSStream flows have increased this past week with the precipitation, and while still below normal, many are unfishable. Access is opening up to many of our northern Nevada streams. You can now get to the Bruneau through the Gold Creek Road and over Waterlog Summit but flows are still high for fishing. As of May 21, the East Fork of the Owyhee was flowing at 100 cfs below the reservoir and 145 cfs at Mountain City, the Bruneau River at 94 cfs, the Jarbidge is up to 98 cfs (access through Idaho), Salmon Falls Creek at 141 cfs, Lamoille Creek at 90 cfs, the South Fork flowing at 150 cfs, Cleve Creek at 6.1 cfs, Steptoe Creek at 3.2 cfs and Kingston Creek at 4.1 cfs. Two weeks ago Cleve Creek, Kingston Creek and Steptoe Creek were stocked with approximately 1,000 trout each.ANGEL LAKEThe road is currently closed. The road is expected to be open for Memorial Day Weekend.ALPINE LAKESThe snow is starting to recede, but the lakes are still frozen and travel is still difficult at the higher elevations though starting to open up. With the warmer than average weather, access should start opening in early June.
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