Bassett and Comins lakes to be treated

Nevada Dept. of Wildlife

In an effort to bring what was once a nationally acclaimed fishery back to prominence, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) will be treating two White Pine County waters. Comins Lake, once the jewel of Nevada’s high desert fisheries, had northern pike illegally introduced in 1999. The source of the pike was believed to be Bassett Lake, just a few miles north and both lakes will be treated to remove the pike that have decimated the trout and bass populations.

Within 10 years of the illegal 1999 introduction of pike into Comins, the toothy predator had not only destroyed the trout fishery, but due to a lack of prey base, the pike population crashed as well. In 2004, Comins averaged approximately 35,000 angler days a year, with more than 70 percent of the anglers coming from out of town. This pumped more than $2,000,000 into the White Pine County economy.  With the destruction of the fishery by 2013, angler visitation to Comins had dropped to less than 1,300 angler use days a year.

“Approximately 60 NDOW employees and volunteers will be spreading rotenone, a naturally occurring chemical that kills fish, on Bassett Lake the second week of August,” said Heath Korrell, NDOW fisheries biologist.  Korrell explains that the following week, the same treatment will take place at Comins Lake.

Rotenone is made from the roots of certain tropical and subtropical legume plants, and other than completely draining a body of water, is the only known effective treatment that can consistently eliminate fish from a stream, pond or lake.  It affects the ability of the gills of the fish to absorb oxygen but doesn’t affect mammals and birds.

“NDOW will be surveying Comins and restocking it with trout this fall.  Next spring we will be stocking Bassett with bass,”  says Korrell.

NDOW is also exploring the possibility of stocking tiger muskellunge into Bassett, providing a large toothy predatory fish that some anglers like to target.  The advantage of tiger muskies is that they are sterile and their populations can be controlled with fishing regulations and stocking.

According to Korrell, “When these treatments are completed, the public will be able to enjoy quality trout and largemouth bass fishing once again, with the White Pine County economy receiving an additional boost from people going fishing.”

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at

(Courtesy photo) Visitation to Comins Lake has dropped since pike have hurt its natural ecosystem.

(Courtesy photo)
Visitation to Comins Lake has dropped since pike have hurt its natural ecosystem.5

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  1. Life long says:

    So tell me this when they treat bassit are they going all the way to mcgill with it and up the tailings ditch I have caught pike bass and carp right down below the swimming pool in mcgill … seems to be another waist of tax payers money … also why not clean out the tailings ditch used to be great fishing there ???? Need to think

    • WhitePineNative says:

      Not to mention the whole Steptoe slough, that runs all the way to Cherry Creek NV. The slough has many pike & Carp in it. Alot of the Slough is on privately owned land. Is N.D.O.W. going to poison that too? Not to mention that there is also a small population of Large Pike in Cave Lake! I have personally seen them in the Lake, although N.D.O.W. will not admit they’re there. They don’t get caught in Cave Lake because, N.D.O.W. constantly stock’s the lake with pan size trout which are the pikes perfect food source. The only way to catch the pike in Cave would be to fish them with small planter trout and that would be illegal.
      I also highly doubt the 2 million dollars they claim Cummins brought in for the county’s economy. That figure is completely un true to say the least. Rest assured Someone will illegally catch pike out of the Slough, and reintroduce to Cummins Lake once again!
      What a waste of money, I believe there’s another motive as to why their doing this. Maybe Job security????

      • I’m not sure about the surrounding tributaries and how they will eliminate the pike but I can see the loss in what white pine county has lost since comins has lost its charm. My grandfather, father and I would make 4 to 5 trips a year to Ely to fish comins. We haven’t been back since 2005. We’re not the only ones I’m sure. We are very excited to make trips back to the white pine county area to fish comins again. There’s no doubt higher ups are doing this for job security but for fisherman like my father and I, we are excited to visit our favorite lake again.

        • Absolutely! We lived in McGill and fished Comins alot, then year after year the trout depleted. I’m glad NDOW is doing something. The problem is the buttheads that transport live fish. Let the experts do the stocking!! But there’s always one…and unfortunately that’s all it takes. And FYI, the economy in Ely can use all the help it gets, fishing and hunting season are a main source of income for them.

      • jesus lopez says:

        I suppose you would rather nothing was done? Then you would bitchin about NDOW noot doing anything about the poor fishing. I’m talking about you whitepinenative. I’ve benn hunting and fishing around Ely since the late 60’s so the decimation of the fishery by those idiots transporting fish was a teribble loss. I had been taking my kids there since about 1990 and by 2004 there was not a fish trout to be found.

  2. Just wondering if there are any updates on the Pike killing at Comins Lake? I guarantee you, there is no way they will eradicate the pike from Comins. To many people like catching pike. Surprised the Ely Times didn’t put any article or pictures about the killing at Bassett or Comins this week?

  3. I cant wait ! No matter the cost, even though they have to kill the water all the way from cummins, to Cherry Creek . In my mind it is money well spent !!!! White Pine county has such limited fishing.The restoration of Cummings lake to the fantastic trout and bass fishing that it once was is an asset to all who live in the area. That is unless you have something against watching your children catch 6 or 7 lb trout or 4 to 6 lb bass. I know of few activities that I enjoy as much as fighting a 7 lb rainbow on a 5wt fly rod. Getter Done. by the way funds for this come from the sales of fishing liscences and the taxes from the Pittman, Robertson act. If you haven’t heard of this very important act you should look it up. If you don’t hunt or fish don’t worry about the funds they wont come out of your pocket anyway

  4. Still no update on Comins lake? What was the outcome of the pike eradication, or did they fail like I think they would? There are pike in Cave, i finally saw the big creatures. For a local paper you would think this would be a main issue to write about.

  5. Going to ask again. Did they ever treat Comins and Bassett lake? What was the results if they did? DId they stock trout like they said they would? Come on Ely Times, be reporters and follow up on stories you publish.

    • stirringthepot says:

      Randy, you should try to contact the local fisheries biologist about what has happened and if there was any stocking at Comins or Bassett.

  6. So, what is the condition of Bassett Lake? Was it treated? Are there fish now? If so, what species? Is it currently fishable? I have tried to call NDOW, but I get recordings and they send you somewhere else to listen to another recording. I was never able to speak to a person.

  7. Is there any fishing on Cummins or Bassett this fall. I am coming from Ohio and would love to be able to go back and catch something.

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