Pyramid Lake Nevada - Land of the Giants

By:  Chuck Loudat

First I would like to start by saying, I am looking forward to when things get back to normal and see our customers back in the shop so we can talk fishing.

If you have never been to Pyramid Lake Nevada to stalk and catch giant Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, you just might move it closer to the top of your bucket list after reading this article.  Where cookie cutter trout are three to seven pounds and don’t even raise an eyebrow, you know you’re somewhere special.  For my buddy Paul and I this was our third trip to Pyramid in four years.  On the last two trips we failed to get our double digit fish, so this trip had a specific mission.  We picked  March, since this month is somewhat of a sweet spot. The stormy weather can move in, you can land some good numbers of fish, and there is a pretty good chance of that fish of a lifetime.

Stormy weather

Usually when you fish that favorite lake, you’re hoping for bluebird weather and no wind.  Pyramid is just the opposite, you want those clouds and wind.  The wind puts chop on the water which breaks up the surface and stirs up the bottom to expose food.  The clouds block the sun which is good because the trout have no eyelids.  When the weather gets nasty, the trout come in to feed.  This was never so clear to us as one day we only had clouds and wind for  fifteen minutes, the bite that day was only fifteen minutes long.

Gear and flies

One of the most important and odd pieces of gear you will need is a step ladder.  Used to wade out deeper and get your body out of the frigid water.  Gear for this lake tends to be on the stout side.  With a chance at catching a double digit fish, your gear needs to be able to handle big fish.  Conventional fly rods in the nine to ten foot range matched with seven to nine weight lines.  Fly lines include: Floating lines with aggressive heads to throw an indicator rig and heavy shooting heads to get those streamers down to the bottom.  Another set of rods that have become very popular are the switch and spey variety.  Switch and spey rods can make long effortless casts and come in real handy when you’re up against a rock wall with no back cast room.

Flies can be real beefy, streamers in sizes 2-6 are heavily weighted to no weight at all.  Woolly buggers, woolly worms, popcorn beetles, and streamers that mimic Tui Chubs are all local favorites.  A favorite combo when streamer fishing, a Midnight Cowboy woolly bugger with a popcorn beetle trailer.  You will see many anglers fishing this killer combo.    Midges can run from size 6 to size 16 with tungsten bead heads, size 12 being the sweet spot.  Midges tend to be flashy with every color under the rainbow.  The lakes big Lahontan cutthroats love big flashy midges.

My trip in a nutshell

Made the drive north to Nevada so we could fish Lake Pyramid from 3/9 – 3/11.  The main objective was for my buddy Paul and I to get our double digit Lahontan Cutthroat trout.  Monday morning my buddy Paul struck gold early, landing an eleven pound cutty right off the bat and getting his double digit fish out of the way early.  Later on I stuck a six pound cookie cutter, but no ten pound plus fish for me that day.  Tuesday was the best day in numbers with many three to seven pound cookie cutters landed, ten or more each.  Tuesday was extra special for me as I landed my double digit fish, a sixteen pound tank.  Wow what a fight that fish gave me, heavy head shakes with line screaming runs.  Paul quickly followed with a 12 pound slug that gave him quite a tussle.  Wednesday we woke up to bluebird skies, crap!  Like I said if you don’t have clouds, wind, and choppy water the fish will not come in to feed.  Then a set of clouds rolled in, covered the sun for fifteen minutes, and fifteen minutes is all the bite lasted.  We managed to land several more fish in that short window, with a 10 pounder for me and a 12 pounder for Paul to finish it out.  All our fishing was done on the indicator from the ladder at North Nets with a size 12 midge.   It was a great three days of fishing and looking forward to next year.  When we are running back to normal come on in the shop and we can talk about this great fishery, as well as getting you geared up with the right equipment and flies.  For a look at the history of Pyramid Lake and its trout, check out this link:

 Pyramid Lake Flies

Assortment of flies for Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Rock, hence the lakes name

Pyramid Lake Fishing 

Cutthroat Trout

Three to seven pound cookie cutters

Pyramid Lake Fly Fishing

More cookie cutters

 Fly Fishing Nevada

Ten pounds

Lohantan Cutthroat Trout

Eleven pounds

12 Pound Cutthroat Trout

Twelve pounds

Fly Fishing Pyramid Lake

Sixteen pounds