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