The midge bite is in full swing! After a few slower weeks at the lake, fishing has begun to pick up at Pyramid Lake. The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout are highly piscivorous, but their main forage, the tui-chub, are a warm water species. The cold January weather partnered with a few storms have driven the tui-chub into the depths where the water is warmer. Because of the lakes morphology, deeper water is not ideal for corralling small bait fish nor is there ample light to effectively hunt. The LCT’s modus operandi is to hunt in schools forcing a number of fish into shallow structure where they can be easily picked off one by one. We see this feeding behavior on full display in October where it is not uncommon to see bait balls the size of a baseball diamond. With their main food source off the menu Lahontan Cutthroat start to focus on the next most plentiful food source…Chironomids! (Midges)
Midges are an interesting insect. They are a non biting variant of a mosquito, that inhabit most waters in the world. Midges hatch in the spring in such numbers that the LCT swim with their mouths open, filter feeding like a whale. The key to fishing this hatch is depth and color. Change your depth a lot. Change your fly a lot. If you are fishing with others set all of your depths differently to cover water. You also want to space your flies at least 3 feet apart or more to cover the vertical water column better. Fish deep, fish shallow, find where the fish are comfortably feeding that day. Following the old saying bright sky bright fly dark sky dark fly is a good rule of thumb for choosing your midge color.
Don’t neglect balanced leeches just yet as we are getting a few strikes on those as well. The retrieve bite has still been good at shallow beaches, but for most of the lake Indicators or the naked style is the most effective way to fish.
Not a lot has changed on the river in the past few weeks. Smaller darker flies are still the dominant fly choice for me. We are seeing a lot of Skwala stonefly in the shallower waters. Skwala stoneflies are not your typical stonefly. They don’t climb out of the river on structure, instead they move into shallow rocky areas where they hatch and mate. We are seeing them in the water, but the fish have not responded to the flies just yet. Keep them in mind on slower days and fish a smaller Stonefly pattern than the larger golden stone. The Skwala is only a size 6-8.
We typically start to see blue winged olive mayflies this time of year. Keeping a set of BWO dries and emergers is crucial, specifically if you are fishing east of town. Focus on slow water and foam lines, winter rising trout can be very sneaky and will rise with little disturbance. Focus on overcast days with little to no wind.
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