Rebuilding the Beast

Revive Fly Fishing JournalLook for my essay - Rebuilding the Beast appearing in the Summer 2016 issue of Revive

 

Directions to Pyramid Lake

From Reno

From Reno/Sparks follow the Pyramid Lake Highway (State Route 445) north approximately 37 miles. Travel time is about 45 minutes to reach Sutcliffe. The bulk of the fishing access is found along the westside of the lake.

 

Fishing Pyramid Lake Spring 2017

Fisherman with Giant Lahontan Cutthroat Trout at Pyramid Lake Nevada

They are not on our schedules. Their appointments are not solely with us. - Barry Lopez. That statement about animal migrations and movements would certainly apply to fishing Pyramid in Spring 2017. In a year where the lake continues to fill with cold water and Pryamid's Lake level rises several feet, the Lahontan cutthroat are definitely not on their ususal schedule.

Angler holding Trophy Pilot Peak Strain Lahontan by the tail from Pyramid Lake.

Spring run-off now shifts into high gear in the Sierras and the Truckee River unloads over 3000 cfs of water down hill toward Reno. Since February peak discharge below Derby Dam have pushed over 5000 cfs and have averaged 3000 to 4000 for most of the Spring. Pryamid Lake is getting a deep and much needed drink of water!

Fly box filled with Popcorn Bettles and Tadpoles is a must at Pyramid Lake

And it's been cold water. From March to early May the inflows have ranged from 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This cold water is a big reason the Lahontans are not on their typical spawning schedule.

Flyfisherman hooks into a Lahontan cutthroat trout on Pyramid Lake in Nevada

For a week of fishing in early May the Lahontans came dressed in different colors. Some were dark olive to reddish yellow, but a good number brought to hand were wearing their red spawning suits. Regulars at Pyramid seemed as surprised as I was to see the late spawners. But hell, the entire 2017 season at Pyramid has been one "surprise" after another.

Pyramid Lake Lahontan cutthroat trout weighing over ten pounds is not uncommon

The other thing which was impossible to miss while standing on a ladder along a northern beach - the herds of cruising cutthroat. Again, the colder than normal water temperatures played a huge part, but so did the turbidty of the water (eg, silt from run-off). The shore cruisers were largely just that - cruisers. Mornings and late evenings served up the best bite. The rest of the day the Lahontans pushed around like they were staging for a spawning run. The bulk of the mid-day hook-ups came while stripping a bettle or leach pattern. Actually, I should say foul-hook-ups. Lahontans not able to dance around a fast moving hook ended up on someone's line.

Fisherman on ladder along shore of Pyramid Lake Nevada at dawn's first light