Fly fishing through late March and early April in the Reno-Tahoe region has been outstanding. The quality fishing we’ve had lately can largely be attributed to the prolonged cold weather. On the Truckee River, the long winter has delayed runoff and has made way for superb fishing conditions. At Pyramid Lake, the prolonged cold has resulted in good fishing conditions as well. The current weather forecast shows a warming trend going into the weekend. This could trigger the beginning of Spring runoff on the Truckee River and may change fishing conditions at Pyramid Lake as well. Call the shop or swing by for the most up to date information on fishing conditions.
Pyramid Lake has fished well through the first part of April. The our extended winter has kept fish close to ledges and drop offs while feeding on a variety of food sources. We are finally starting to see fish cruise along shallow areas as they prepare to spawn. Typically, this migration into shallow water occurs in the early to middle parts of March. This year that is not the case so tactics must be adjusted slightly to target feeding Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
Stripping flies has been effective and will continue to be as fish congregate in the shallow flats. The advantage to using this method is that you can cover a broad area with your flies. On shallow beaches, fish tend to be more spread out. While the indicator setup can work on these types of beaches, you are limited as to where you can present the fly. These beaches do not have a defined ledge or drop off, so there is no specific target area to cast to. As fish prepare to spawn, they tend to eat flashy attractor streamers like the Mopcorn Beetle or the Tadpole. These flies are bright with a lot of movement to get the trout’s attention in a hurry. Pairing a Beetle with another floating fly will help elevate both flies away from the bottom. This is especially helpful when vegetation and algae growth begin as higher sun angles penetrates the water to warm the lake bottom. Flies like the Booby will work great in this situation when paired with a Beetle.
On rocky beaches, chironomids and midges are still the fly of choice for many anglers. As fish move into the shallower areas, fly pattern will become increasingly more important. This time of year we will often fish Holo Midges or even river nymphs (with strong enough hooks, of course). Since the fish will see many flies given the number of anglers, try mixing it up and fishing different patterns. Try pairing flies like a Duracell in a size 12, Assassin in a size 14, or a Jigged CDC Pheasant Tail in size 14 with Holo Midges for a two-fly setup.
Fly fishing on the Truckee River has been great over the last week. Water clarity has been in the three to five foot range. Most days, the river has had a slight green tint which seems to improve fishing. With the warming trend over the last few days, water temperatures have crept up on a daily basis and are now peaking between 45 and 50 degrees fahrenheit at the Sparks gauge. Hatches of midges, Blue Winged Olives, and Skwala Stoneflies have occurred through the warmer part of the day. This emergence mixed with rising water temperatures has trout in the Truckee River hungry and looking for lots of food.
While trout were previously holding in deep buckets in the winter, they have begun to move into slightly faster water. This movement has opened up a lot of fishable water as the trout begin to spread out. When nymphing, both the European Style Nymphing (ESN) and indicator setup have been effective. When paired with a heavy Skwala Stonefly like the TJ Hooker, the ESN rig can put flies down on the bottom for an effective drift. On the indicator setup, attractor patterns such as Squirmy Worms, Pat’s Rubber Legs, or Trout Beads are all great choices right now.
Along with an attractor nymph, try fishing smaller mayflies, midges, or caddis. Flies such as the Spanish Bullet in a #16 are great when paired with an attractor nymph. With rising water temperatures, it won’t be long until we see other mayflies such as March Browns become active. March Browns tend to be bigger and are best fished in sizes 12 and 14. The Jigged CDC Pheasant Tail in a size 14 is a great imitation for this mayfly and is a tried and true pattern. Additionally, heavy nymphs such as the Thread Quill or the Neon Jig in a size 14 will represent a variety of insects well.
With the Truckee River forecasted to increase in flow, we could see Spring runoff conditions sooner rather than later. While these conditions can be challenging, the reward can be well worth it. Big fish get pushed out of their normal holding areas during high water conditions. This makes them a bit easier to target in most cases. When the water is high and off color, nymphing along the banks can produce spectacular results. Additionally, fish are more keen to eat streamers along the bank in these conditions.