hen it comes to western bass fisheries,
Lake Mead has a solid case as being one of
the most famous. The massive lake on the Nevada and Arizona border was the site of the first-ever
Bassmaster Classic in 1971 and has hosted the prestigious
WON Bass U.S. Open nearly 40 times, falling just shy of that
mark last year when the event was moved down on the
Colorado River to Lake Mohave, the first time the event has
been held anywhere besides Mead.
The lake is full of bass fishing history and is known for
scenic beauty, big waves, and at times, incredibly challenging
fishing. It’s what makes Mead, Mead. The lake has been in
the news often lately, with the U.S. Open venue change of
the biggest event in the west being the big news in bass
But the low water levels have also garnered attention
worldwide, and almost all of it is negative. But some
positives are mixed in as the fishing is good for those who
can access the lake because the bass have been largely
unpressured for the past year.
HISTORIC LOW POINT
Over the years, Lake Mead has had plenty of ups and downs in terms of both the fishing quality and the water levels. Right now, it’s at a historic low water point since the lake began to fill in 1934 after the completion of the Hoover Dam.
Whether it’s the discovery of bodies in barrels or the doomsday predictions of when it will dry up completely, almost everything you hear about the lake is terrible news.
National media has showcased and sensationalized all the grim discoveries and also shared photos of sunken boats and jet skis hidden below the water’s surface for years. Lake Mead has been shrinking in recent years.
But, there are still plenty of largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass swimming in the lake and the fishing quality has experienced a boom. For those who launch their boat, the rewards are there as local anglers report some of the best fishing they’ve seen in years, for both numbers and size of fish and the lack of fishing pressure is undoubtedly the reason for it.
“IT’S LIKE A NEW LAKE”
For Mead locals who have spent years fishing the desert lake, things have changed drastically as many of the historical best fishing areas are high and dry. Boulder City angler Gunnar Stanton finished 3rd in the 2021 WON Bass U.S. Open, which sadly may be the last on Lake Mead for the foreseeable future.
Stanton took the time in January to take me for a tour of the changes on his home lake, which I also called home for years, having grown up in nearby Henderson.
Stanton pointed to the mapping on his electronics as we launched the boat and began to idle the no-wake zone out of Hemenway Harbor. His water offset was set to -180 feet, quickly putting things into perspective. This mark represents the difference between current levels and the high water years in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Just a