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Warmer weather leads to kayak and pre-spawn scouting

After leaving my kayak in storage for Southern Nevada’s coldest months, a warm, sunny day was just too much to resist. It was not the start of a long-term trend, just one of those early March days that are sandwiched between passing cold fronts but warm enough to justify loading up the kayak.

Generally, I follow my own version of the 120-degree rule of paddling safety, which says if the combined temperature of the air and water do not add up to 120 degrees, you should wear a dry suit or a neoprene wet suit when paddling.

While the goal is to never flip over in your kayak or canoe, you should always be prepared for that possibility. Hypothermia is nothing to mess with.

Since I do not own either a dry suit or a wet suit, I simply refrain from paddling on those days that fall within the guidelines of that rule. It’s a choice that can make even a relatively short Las Vegas winter seem a little on the long side.

So, with the air temperature expected to push into the high 70s and the Lake Mead water temperature hovering in the low 50s, it was a day when a land-weary paddler had no choice but to be on the water.

Besides, it was time to do a little pre-spawn scouting and look for two things: Any changes Lake Mead’s constantly fluctuating water level had made to the shoreline in one of my regular haunts and signs that smallmouth bass had moved up toward the shallows.

Lake Mead is a challenging place to catch bass because its shoreline is constantly changing. Once you think you have it figured out, the water level drops or rises. It happens oftentimes dramatically and enough to change the landscape along an entire stretch of shoreline. Those changes can alter spawning locations and do away with large swaths of cover.

Such is the case with a flat where I usually find a handful of spawning beds each spring, and one of the locations I wanted to inspect on my scouting trip. That flat is all above the current waterline, and not by a little bit. Currently, the water level in Lake Mead is 1,086.1 feet, 10 feet lower than the same time in 2020 and three feet lower than 2019.

I worked the general area with several different baits but had no hits and saw nothing to indicate fish had been looking to establish nests. With water temperatures in the low 50s, it may have been a little early yet, but that can change quickly.

Unless there is a dramatic increase in the amount of water available in the lower Colorado River system in the next couple of weeks, I will not be fishing that flat this year. The low water level has affected other spots along that stretch of shoreline, and no doubt in other anglers’ go-to spots as well.

Guess that means we will all have to do some more scouting in the coming weeks.

Darn the bad luck.

Wildlife Commission to meet

The Nevada State Board of Wildlife Commissioners will meet virtually Friday and Saturday to discuss season dates, bag limits and special regulations for the 2021-2022 migratory bird hunting season. Also on the agenda are petitions calling for creation of a special hunt for disabled persons and prohibition of the use of hounds during Nevada’s bear hunting season, as well as a discussion of recent action taken by the Clark County Commission relative to coyote calling contests.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com

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