Less than an hour drive from Reno, Nevada lies a massive alkaline body of water called Pyramid Lake. Pyramid is one of several remaining lakes in the Great Basin region that were once connected to the ocean. Today, Pyramid has no outlet but it does function as the terminus for the Truckee River.
The lake is encompassed by the large Paiute Reservation and the shores are undeveloped. Pyramid has long been recognized as a premier fishery for lahontan cutthroat trout. In years past, fish up to 10 pounds were caught by fly and gear anglers each year. Unfortunately, the original Pilot Peak strain that originally inhabitated the lake were thought to be extinct. These fish reached sizes greater than 40 pounds and spawned in the Truckee River up to the Lake Tahoe outlet.
Recently, a fisheries biologist discovered and identified the Pilot Peak strain in a remote mountain stream. The fish were only inches length but they have led the way to repopulate Pyramid Lake with the true native species that was assumed extinct. A few years later, larger than average fish began showing up in anglers nets and today, fish over 20 pounds are being caught by fly fisherman.
Pyramid Lake guide Doug Ouellette has seen the changes first hand with anlgers from around the country attending his clinics. Pyramid is a very unique fishery that offers anglers a chance at the trout of a lifetime.
As you drive over the final hill and catch your first view of the lake, you will realize it's wide open. The highway follows the lake with turnoffs to labeled beaches. Make sure you have a tribal permit at this point. The majority of your fishing opportunities are available on the western shoreline. During the peak fishing season, several beaches will have crowds of anglers but that doesn't mean the less populated beaches are void of fish. The north and south "nets" are popular stopping points. Other beaches worth exploring are Popcorn, Pelican and Warrior Point. Look for obvious ledges and drop offs to indicate a good place to fish.
Pyramid Lake Fishing Season
The majority of fishing pressure and traffic arrives during the late winter and spring. The spring spawning season brings fish into shallow water as they cruise in search of a tributary. The actual fishing season for trout begins in the fall and continues through the spring. Catch rates aren't always as high during the dead of winter but some of the largest fish are found during this time.
Fishing Techniques for Lahontan Cutthroats
Most anglers utilize step ladders to gain a comfortable casting position. Wade out on the sand flats until you reach waist high water and setup a ladder. Fishing with floating and sinking lines are effective. Heavy duty sink tips with large wooly buggers and foam beetles are standard throughout the season. Change colors occasionally until you find the best combination. Purple, black, chartreuse, orange and pink are all common. Floating lines with large chironomids are also effective, especially during the spring when fish frequent the shallows. Many anglers suspend the flies beneath an indicator but retrieving them is also a great approach.