decade ago, the water was 80 feet higher, and just two years ago, it was roughly 40 feet higher than it is now.
As someone who learned bass fishing on Lake Mead and competed as recently as 2021 in the U.S. Open, the lake and many popular areas were almost unrecognizable at times for this author. It’s a new body of water, with points and humps emerging from the depths and creating new areas that hold fish. Landmarks used for years are still there; they are now much further up the bank and blending into the desert landscape.
For example, Las Vegas Wash is a shadow of its formal self, with a much narrower entrance and fewer cuts and coves. But even with the dwindling surface area, the wash was still full of birds, shad, and fish activity. A surprising number of boats and shoreline anglers were in the area enjoying the beautiful January day when I was taken on a tour of the new Lake Mead. Even with limited access, anglers are finding a way to go fishing and use their boats.
For someone as familiar with the lake as Stanton, each day on the new Lake Mead is like fishing a new lake and he spends plenty of time on his trolling motor and exploring new areas. But, the reward is hungry fish getting much less pressure than before.
If one chooses to venture to the lake’s northern section, the Overton Arm, Stanton says the long boat ride offers the opportunity to fish just about everywhere you’d like to, as you may not see another boat all day. The area is mainly untapped for bass anglers with biting fish that might not see a lure in days, weeks, or months. Plus, the area still offers the same beautiful scenery that the lake is known for.
ACCESSING THE LAKE
One of Mead’s most significant barriers to
fishing is simply launching a boat. Years ago, Mead
had plenty of access points and quality marinas
throughout the lake. At one time, Overton Beach,
Echo Bay, Temple Bar, Las Vegas Bay, Government
Wash, Callville Bay, and Las Vegas Boat Harbor all
had quality boat launches to go along with several
others scattered throughout the lake.
Currently, the options are much more limited,
with two launching lanes at Hemenway made of
pipe mats and a new, portable ramp at Temple
Bar. The portable ramps are unique mats that can
accommodate boats over 30 feet long and can be
placed just about anywhere with a steady slope and
the plan is to add more throughout the lake. Callville
Bay is said to be the next destination for this unique
boat launching solution.
Lake Mead (and Mohave) are part of the Lake
Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) and are
managed by the National Park Service. The NPS
hosted a series of public meetings in December to
get input on the best way to manage the resource with different options for boat launching and day use. One of the options on the table was to stop management completely, which led to a protest that featured a parade of boaters pulling their rigs down the Las Vegas Strip to gain awareness. Thankfully, that is just one of the options and public input will be considered as the NPS works towards a solution for the low water.
While Lake Mead has gained notoriety lately for all of the wrong reasons, there is still hope for bass anglers who love the lake. Even with the low water, the fish are there and generally willing to bite. The lake may be down in more ways than one, but don’t count out the famed desert lake just yet. •