Bundle up for limits of trout this month at Topaz Lake

Topaz Lake’s trout season opened Jan. 1 and runs through Sept. 30. And like Lake Tahoe to the north, since Topaz straddles the border, California anglers won’t have to wait until the traditional late April trout opener to catch Topaz’s nice supply of rainbows.

Just dress warm for the occasion.

By Chris Cocoles

TOPAZ LAKE – There’s really no other way to put it: It’s not warm and toasty at Topaz Lake this time of year. The fish, though, don’t seem to mind.

“Sometimes it’s just miserable out there (in January),” says Liz Weirauch of The Angler’s Edge in Gardnerville, Nev. (775-782-4734; theaglersedge.com). “You’ll go out there, set your rods up and run back to your car and watch. But they put tens of thousands of fish in Topaz just as soon as it closes in October. They stock the crap out of that lake with everything from fingerlings all the way up.”

Quality fish like these on display at Topaz Lodge are part of the attraction of Topaz Lake in the dead of winter.

Weirauch wasn’t sure the last time California Department of Fish and Game made a plant at Topaz, but the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s stocking more than compensates. Just before the New Year’s opener, Topaz also received a stocking of Mount Whitney Strain rainbow trout from Jim O’Banion’s trout farm in Wellington, Nev.

“They are gorgeous fish, bright sides and heavy shoulders that just fight like a son-of-a-gun,” Weirauch says of the Mount Whitney trout.

The Angler’s Edge specializes in fly fishing, Weirauch said fly anglers usually doesn’t make appearances at Topaz until April or so, partly for the cold weather.

Bait fishing can be very effective from the shore here. Simply casting a weight with an inflated worm or with a marshmallow attached to the hook about 6 inches above so it stays off the bottom works well if you don’t have a boat to troll with.

But fly anglers when they do go out tend to use float tubes at the south end of the lake. Purple buggers and midges are a popular choice. Weirauch also said anglers are not permitted on the California side of the West Walker River diversion canal that feeds into the lake. But the outlet canal on the Nevada side is open all year-around. Both California and Nevada fishing licenses will work on Topaz.

Topaz Lodge (topazlodge.com; 800-962-0732) will host the lake’s annual fishing derby from Jan. 1 to April 14.