Comins Lake gets new trout population

Ross Johnson photo  The Nevada Department of Wildlife restocks Comins Lake with its first rainbow trout in nine years on April 20.

Ross Johnson photo
The Nevada Department of Wildlife restocks Comins Lake with its first rainbow trout in nine years on April 20.

About two dozen people showed up at Comins Lake on April 20 to watch two Nevada Department of Wildlife trucks from the Gallagher hatchery dump 2,200 rainbow trout into the body of water, the first new fish in nine years.

“This is a culmination of ten years of work,” NDOW conservation educator Joe Doucette said. “It was an agency wide effort of almost 80 employees and volunteers.”

NDOW added 2,200 more trout on April 21, and 10,000 fish will be in the lake by the end of the spring. The department will 10,000 more fish this fall, and will also add largemouth bass in September or October.

For now, the trout will feed on midge larvae as well as dragonfly and damselfly nymphs.

Comins Lake suffered an illegal northern pike introduction in 1999, most likely from Bassett Lake to the north. Within ten years, the pike had destroyed the trout population.

According to a press release, in 2004 Comins Lake  averaged about 35,000 angler use days for the year. More than 70 percent of the fishermen came from out of town, bringing more than $2 million in revenue with them. By 2013, that had dropped to under 1,300 angler use days for the year.

In August, NDOW staff and volunteers treated both lakes with rotenone, an organic chemical that affects the way fish absorb oxygen into their lungs without affecting other lake mammals and birds.

“We have our lake back,” NDOW fisheries biologist Heath Korell said. “It’s iconic in Nevada for productivity. It’s ready for folks to come and fish it. The water levels are up, and its the first time we put fish in it in nine years.”

“This is worth millions to White Pine County,” Doucette said. “Businesses are expecting it.”

“For the fish to grow an inch or an inch and a half per month is not uncommon,” Korell said. “It’s about conservation and trying to reestablish the population. If we harvest them out, it’s going to do no good.”

The department is also currently in the planning and decision phase for a new boat launch and dock at the lake.

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  1. Wait…I thought Commins was contaminated with high levels of mercury…wasn’t there a huge posting out there to not consume the fish? Was it a lie?? Mercury levels don’t just disappear in two years…. How is it safe NOW?? The mines that were spilling the mercury in to the lake are still there, and the run off still goes in to Commins…. Hmmmm do I smell a hidden agenda?

  2. Why so paranoid Localguy ? I seriously doubt that NDOW or anyone else has a hidden agenda. Folks just want to fish…That’s all.

    • Hank Blair says:

      I agree with you Jim, If localguy is worried about
      The Mercury levels, practice catch and release for someone else to catch. You don’t have to eat the fish. The fish have obviously done well and a lot of fish have
      been eaten from there since Mercury was first detected.

    • Lol ok Jim… Paranoia has nothing to do with questioning motives, and wondering why “dangerous mercury levels” are suddenly safe after poisoning the lake to exterminate the pike. It has nothing to do with paranoia at all. More along the lines of, after being born and raised in White Pine, who had their hand in the cookie jar. Now Hank…you are right! I wouldn’t eat the trout out of Commins. The water is too warm and stagnant, and makes the flesh of the fish mushy. Has been the same way since I was a little kid, so you are right, I don’t eat the fish. I leave them for the transplants that move to Ely. If I want to go fishing and eat the fish, I travel to Adams McGill and catch the bass, or cold springs, where the water is cold, to catch the trout and where they put up an actual fight. You see gentlemen, I have hunted, and fished there long enough to know that there is ALWAYS an alterior motive for things happening there with water and wildlife.

  3. Not sure ‘Localguy’ couldn’t have included a few more regional references to adequately qualify himself as a legitimate ‘local outdoorsman’. Maybe the library duck pond they used to stock with fish for the kids once a year. Or that creek at the spot by the place, you know… But if I want a not-so-hidden anti-mining agenda, it appears I need look no further than someone screaming ‘mercury’ in a crowded fishing hole..

  4. Mercury or not, fishing Cumins Reservoir was a blast before the stocking program ceased. I am looking forward to visiting Ely this fall to see how large the newly stocked trout get when the days begin to shorten and become brisk. For the last ten years Wayne Kirch has had to substitute for Cumins (and it has been a reasonably good one), but having another trophy fishery besides Dacey will be good for eastern Nevada. And yes, Catch & Release solves the heavy metal fears while creating an even better fishery that will impact Ely’s economy in a positive way (I have been told the trout in Kirch taste muddy for the same reasons described by Localguy, so taste is yet another reason to practice C&R). I do so favor conspiratorial endeavors that improve fishing and local economy in parallel. Hope to see you guys on the water.

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