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4-19-04 - We arrived in Nevada when some of the cacti were still in spring bloom...

A relatively "wet" spring meant a ton of spring color...

We sighted 3 Western Whiptails - Cnemidophorus tigris Tigris - while hiking.

Just putting my camera to the test on some wildlife...

The "prize" of the trip; a Great Basin Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus bicinctores

I shot over 50 images before finally spooking this girl off...I was easily 10 to 20 feet away when I got this close-up!

Our first look at the Colorado River & the Willow Beach State Fish Hatchery.

I wade up to the hatchery where I see a discharge (and the cormorants are all gathered there). DEFINITELY fishy, and of course OFF LIMITS!

4-19-04 - Pretty even though totally futile...

Waters Fished: Willow Beach on Lake Mohave, Colorado River System
Fish Caught: 0/0
Outing Date: 4-19-04
Weather: Sunny all day
Air Temp: in the 70's
Water Temp: 56F
Water Level: normal? Lake Mead upstream is low
Water Color: crystal, I mean CRYSTAL clear!
Fish Species: Carp!
Pattern Fished: The gamut
Pattern Color: Everything
Fishing Quality: very very very very very poor

Hmmm...let me start by asking if you can handle a consisting of nothing more than pictures??? Perhaps, but let me at least tell you a little about the trip.

I got into Vegas to visit my folks and my brother, who had come out from NJ. Originally we were going to fish that Saturday, but my folks said the weather forecast wasn't "good".

Well, Saturday was partly cloudy, mid 70's....that was considered "BAD" weather by my folks!!! We did some hiking in Henderson; the first shots through the lizards were all on that hike. Let me tell you, the hiking was fun, spotting lizards and trying to get the best pictures was arguably the highlight of the trip.

Which brings me all the way to Monday, when we ended up going fishin'. We drove over Hover Dam into Arizona and about 13 miles downstream on the Colorado to a place called Willow Beach. My brother and mother had done some "pre-scouting" and talked to a Park Ranger who HIGHLY suggested Willow Branch as the best/closest place for trout fishing. Some quick online research informed me that both the State Record White Bass and Rainbow Trout were caught on Lake Mohave at Willow Beach. This sounds promising!

So we stop at the little shop that's there, let me tell you at first it looked promising. Licenses were reasonable for the day. The rules were pretty simple, we only needed an Arizona license to fish from the Arizona shore of Willow Beach...good deal or so I thought.

We set up, geared up, and hit the water. Right off the bat we saw a fish jump and my heart jumped...cool...there be fish here!

HA! Joke's on MP...I waded the shoreline in crystal clear 56F water...very pleasant with the air temps in the mid-70's and not a cloud in the sky. Willow Beach was "big", but I figured maybe the story was that we'd catch fish cruising the shallows looking for a meal.

I NEVER SAW A FISH! Well, I take that back, we spotted MANY fish in the harbors, specifically carp. I personally saw 2 more fish jump, heck those could've been CARP too. As I made my way north along the shore I spied an outflow at the base of the Willow Beach State Fish Hatchery. A pair of cormorants were floating there...this had to be "the" spot. I wade up, and find out that it's TOTALLY off limits to fishing. I cast just outside this boundary, but pretty much I'm getting pretty close to my chest, don't see anything going on, and still haven't seen a fish. Meanwhile all the "jumpers", whatever they might have been, were well out of casting range too.

Time to bite the bullet, my bro and I head back to the shop and rent a canoe...the only way we're going to get to where the fish are is in one! We have to up our licenses with special use permits from NV so we can fish this shared waterway. Turns out that rainbows haven't been stocked for a month or so, the hatchery is undergoing repairs or something....

Well, thinking the obvious thing, we head in the canoe back "upstream" (if you can call it that) towards the hatchery boundary. If we get lost or tired we can drift back down.

No fish, nada, nothing. The water is DEEP and crystal clear...we've switched from the 9' 4wts at this point to my 9wt and my 10' 6wt..the heavier gear I had brought, and tied on Whitlock's Hare Scuplins. It was the heaviest pattern I had with, it's very fishy, if anything was gonna give us a chance to hook into something, anything, it'd be a big heavy fly. Hey, I would've been more than happy to hook into stripers.

And then thing get WORSE...we head to the opposite shore, which looks VERY VERY VERY fishy. Next thing you know, a wind kicks up and we're flyin' downstream, getting blown into shore, then blown too far out, casting goes to crap and I'm ticked.

So how did we deal? We did our best, more or less flatlining our streamers off one side of the canoe while the wind pushed us around.

How can I really sum this up? At best, despite being as well prepared as we could've been all things considered, this was ANYTHING BUT what I had expected. This was big casting water; i.e. chuck a huge spoon way out and do it "polish style" like we do in Kenosha Harbor. Or heck, even better, get a boat with fishfinder, planer boards and downriggers and spend the evening driving up and down the lake.

I gave up early...I had a flight soon anyway and resigned myself to not let my folks pick the fishin' location next time. And to top it off, I heard that the weekend while I was in NV/AZ the steelhead were on fire. Figures (sorry, I KNEW that was gonna happen).

Next time, it'll be the White Mountains, or somewhere in the Grand Canyon, heck, someplace that is KNOWN to be fly-fishin' friendly! Marble Canyon, Lees Ferry, I don't know, but I can guarantee that if I'm bringin' fly gear I'm NOT going back to Willow Beach. Who knows, maybe we just hit it at a really bad time, but my opinion is that I've seen water like this before with more fish and better opportunities. 45 lb. strippers (mounts in the shop) aside, this isn't going to be a repeat for me.

At least I came away with some gorgeous pictures which I've continued below.

  MP 

I'm grumpy...still haven't had a confirmed trout sighting as I walk back to find my brother.

So we bite the bullet 'cause the couple fish we've seen jump are out farther than we can cast. Just before lunch I opted to take this panorama of Willow Beach.

Click to VIEW this Panoramic in a 3D viewer.

The water was ultra clear - this was easily 15 feet down.

Couldn't tell you for certain, but judging by the size of the rocks we could make out, the Willow Beach section must be 50 feet deep!!!?!

My bro and I put in good effort fly fishin' in the canoe with huge weighted streamers.

We headed for the far shore; it looked fishy. Nothing panned out though.

Early afternoon the wind kicked up fiercely; our only option at this point was to "troll" with our fly lines as the wind pushed us around the basin.

Back in the harbor, the only fish we had confirmed sightings of all day were the numerous carp.

You wouldn't automatically think "Arizona" when you first see Willow Beach.

Just another shot of Willow Beach.

They kayakers should give you a better idea of scale than any of the above pictures. Willow Beach is NOT fly fishing water!

We watched as these maniacs in a helicopter chased the Big Horn Sheep in the hills...

Don't ask me what this nut-ball was doing hanging out of the helicopter...my GUESS was that they were hunting, which I'm not even sure is legal. Didn't hear any gunshots though, but did see a DNR vehicle parked by where they set down on the way out.

Just another scenic shot.

Haven't ID'd this waterfowl yet.

 

Playing with the camera....obviously a good red ant pattern would work in this area.

The camera even surprised ME with this shot.

 

 

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