Fishing Lake Mead – Tips, Charter Reviews & Species Guide

If you live within a couple hours of Las Vegas, chances are you’ve heard of Lake Mead.

This is one of the largest recreational lake systems in the southwest United States, and boasts excellent fishing.

In this guide, I’m going to cover fishing at lake mead, and give you some tips and pointers on how to get started.

Fishing Lake Mead

Lake Mead is a large reservoir located in Nevada and Arizona, about 30 miles east of Las Vegas. The Lake is a National Recreation Area and was created during the construction of the famous Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.

The Lake Mead system is comprised of 4 main basins and consists of hundreds of coves, canyons, and numerous smaller tributaries.

The Colorado River is the main source of water inflow and the lake has over 550 miles of shoreline, making it one of the largest reservoirs in the United States.

Fishing Lake Mead
Lake NameLake Mead
Size158,147 acres
Average Depth182 feet
Maximum Depth532 feet
Popular Fishing SpeciesStriped Bass, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Panfish
Boat Ramps AvailableYes
Major TributariesColorado River

Fishing and Boating are very popular on Lake Mead, with the tasty striped bass being the most popular species. Other popular fish include rainbow trout, catfish, panfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and black crappie.

Lake Mead Fishing Tips

The fishing at lake mead is driven by the 4 seasons, and tactics and fishing locations vary depending on the species you are after.

For example, Striped Bass and largemouth bass are the two most popular species on the lake but they prefer different habitats.

The striped bass on lake mead are primarily an open-water fish, and prefer staging in open water over deep channels, humps and ledges.

You’ll need to cover a lot of water to locate striped bass, and rely on your electronics like livescope to pinpoint fish schools that can be as deep as 30 feet below the surface.

Conversely, largemouth bass are primarily a shallow-water species, that prefers structure and habitat. Focus on aquatic vegetation, and shallow areas in 2-6 feet of water.

Below are a few starting locations and recommendations for fishing Lake Mead by species:

Fish SpeciesBait & MethodLocation
Striped Bassshad, anchovies, large swim baitsOverton Arm, Las Vegas Bay, Temple Bar, Willow Beach
Largemouth Basswild shiners, minnows, drop shot live wormsFind weedy vegetation, rocky outcroppings, ledges and submerged structure
Smallmouth Basslive minnows, crawfish, ned rigs and wacky rig wormsLook for clean water over sand or rock bottom with sparse vegetation
Channel Catfishcut shad, stinkbaits, nightcrawlersFish on the bottom in areas with moderate water flow
Panfish (Crappie, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish)minnows, worms, insects, crayfish, fliesFish along steep canyon walls, offshore rock piles & creek mouths
Rainbow Troutminnows, worms and cricketsLook for clear & clean water, fish along rocky walls and outcroppings

Lake Mead Fishing Charters

Due to its very large size, many anglers hire local fishing guides or charter captains to show them around the lake and put them on the fish. Below are my recommendations:

Lake Mead Striped Bass
Striped Bass

Striped Bass Charter: Captain John Wood – Fish Anglers Edge

Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Trout: Captain Eric Richins – Big Water Boating Las Vegas

Where can I fish from shore at Lake Mead?

99% of the lake mead shoreline is undeveloped, with very little shore fishing access. However, there are a handful of public and private piers scattered around the lake that provide fishing access from shore.

Lake Mead Fishing Map
Image courtesy of

Piers and public fishing areas are found throughout Lake Mead and the National Recreation Area. These include:

  • Hemenway Fishing Pier near Boulder Beach and just to the north of Hemenway Launch Ramp
  • Willow Beach Fishing Pier on Lake Mohave just to the north of Willow Beach Marina
  • Katherine Landing Fishing Pier (this pier was waiting for repairs as of March of 2020) located near Katherine Landing Marina

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to eat fish from Lake Mead?

Yes, it is safe to eat fish from Lake Mead. The lake is regularly sampled for toxins such as heavy metals and mercury. For the latest fish consumption advisories, contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

How Do I Catch Striped Bass At Lake Mead?

Live shad is the most effective bait to use for striped bass fishing on lake mead. If you are unable to get live shad, use lures that imitate shad such as large swimbaits, crankbaits, or topwater lures.

Are there alligators in Lake Mead?

No, there are not any alligators in lake Mead. The lake system is far too cold to support a population of alligators, however, pet alligators are sometimes released into the lake illegally.

What is the biggest fish in Lake Mead?

The biggest fish species in lake mead is the Striped Bass. The record on the lake is 52-pounds 8 ounces caught by Carson Romans in June 1982.

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