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Fishing May be Doomed at Comins Lake, Ely Nevada

If you are interested in fishing, you will want to read this article.

Comins Lake, 10 Miles Southeast of Ely, Nevada just off the U.S. Highway 93/50 is actually a catch basin fed by several streams and springs. This abundant water supply helps in the preservation of the surrounding wetlands in association with the (BLM) Bureau of Land Management. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is the state agency responsible for the restoration and management of the fish and wildlife resources in the area.

This local fishing "hole" used to be wonderful for trout. Because of its easy access and great fishing, you would find locals and Las Vegas fishermen side by side on the bank or on the lake. The trout are still stocked, but this may come to an end soon.

In 1970, pike (northern pike) were introduced into Comins Lake. This was intended to control the population of the Utah chub (a forage fish). The pike did control the Utah chub, in fact they were eradicated. The chub soon became stunted due to overpopulation and scarcity of food.

Northern pike ate well, as their food of choice is other fish. They also like to eat birds, frogs and other small mammals. They are prolific breeders also. A 36 inch female is able to produce between 108,000 and 140,000 eggs every year. Since pike can live up to 25 years, this means overpopulation occurred quickly in this small reservoir.

A year old pike grows to about 15 inches, and 24 inches by the age of two years. The pike will eat about 1/3 to ½ their body length per meal. These eating habits brought on the demise of the stocked trout. In the 1980's stocking of trout was stopped at the reservoir. Fishing here became undesirable to anglers due to the lack of trout. In 1989, the NDOW eradicated pike from Comins Lake. The lake went dry in 1990 due to a prolonged drought which ensured the demise of all remaining pike.

You would think this would be the end of the story. About 1999, some silly fool decided the lake needed restocking. The fish of choice, pike. The fish that were planted in the lake are now in excess of 30 inches long. The largemouth bass and trout that were documented in the lake in 2003 are decreasing every year.

John Elliot of the Nevada Department of Wildlife Eastern Region Supervising Biologist says, "Recently harvested pike were found to contain multiple 16-inch trout." Large numbers of freshly planted trout are also found in the stomachs of pike.

Anglers are asking for an introduction of forage fish for the pike to feed on. This would hopefully take the pressure off the bass and trout. After talking to some other local fishermen this theory is not widely accepted. It will be interesting to see if a solution is ever found, and good fishin ever resumes on Comins Lake.
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