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Rye Patch Reservoir is located on the Humboldt River in Pershing County, Nevada. The reservoir was completed in 1936 and provides flood control and irrigation to the surrounding area, along with two smaller reservoirs on its eastern edge, the Upper and Lower Pitt-Taylor Reservoirs. The Old West town of Rye Patch was named for a patch of wild rye that grew along the railroad tracks in the town. During the gold rush of the 1860s and 1870s, ore from nearby mines was processed in Rye Patch, and the town prospered. With the closing of the processing mill in 1877, the town gradually faded away. The reservoir that bears its name is now a popular place for fishing, boating, camping, and exploration.
Fishing is available year-round in the warm waters of Rye Patch Reservoir. Rye Patch is especially known for its walleye, and a state-record walleye was caught at the lake. The reservoir is stocked regularly with spotted bass, wiper (striper and white bass hybrid), rainbow trout, and walleye. In addition, anglers can find white crappie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, channel catfish, and bluegill. There is a 25 game fish limit for anglers at the reservoir. However, the Nevada State Health Division has issued an advisory due to high levels of mercury found in fish in Rye Patch Reservoir. It is recommended that wipers and walleye should not be eaten, and consumption of all other fish should be limited to eight ounces per week.
Anglers and recreational boaters will find easy access to the lake, with a two lane boat ramp and a dock located on the west side of the reservoir. Because there are no motor restrictions on the lake, fishing boats, powerboats, and even canoes and kayaks are all welcome here. For those who want a break from the desert sun, water skiing and swimming are two great ways to cool off in the lake.
Nature lovers will enjoy the undeveloped Rye Patch State Recreation Area surrounding the reservoir. Scenic views of the snow-capped Humboldt Mountains can be enjoyed from the lake's southern end. Although much of the shoreline is steep and rocky, a hiking trail beginning north of Rye Patch Dam offers adventurers a way to explore the shore on foot. The one mile trail winds through the cliffs along the lake's shore. Benches are placed along the trail, offering hikers a spot to sit and enjoy the view of the lake's sparkling waters. Camping is available at dedicated campgrounds below Rye Patch Dam and on the west side of the reservoir. Both of these campgrounds offer restrooms and showers. More primitive camping is available in most spots around the lake unless otherwise posted. Many of these undeveloped camping areas are accessible only by boat.
Many visitors are attracted to the Rye Patch area by its rich history. Some astonishing archaeological finds have been made in the area, including the fossils of camels, horses, elephants, and bison who roamed the lands thousands of years ago. Humans were living along the Humboldt River dating back at least 8,000 years, before the area became the desert land that it is today. The first exploration of the area by white settlers was in the 1820s, and the Applegate-Lessen Cut Off, which branched off the famous California Trail of the mid-1800s, passed near the site where the reservoir is today. The gold rush changed the area around Rye Patch forever, and people still visit Rye Patch today to search for gold nuggets using metal detectors. Many believe that the Rye Patch area is the best spot in the state for finding gold nuggets, as well as quartz crystals.
No matter what your reason for visiting Rye Patch Reservoir, you are sure to be treated to scenic views and sparkling waters. This out-of-the-way oasis offers visitors a serene place for fishing, boating, camping, and more.
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