Fly Fishing Frenchman’s Lake
Located about 45 minutes northwest of Reno, Frenchman’s Reservoir provides a good opportunity for rainbow trout fishing. The fish here grow large, averaging around 16”. The lake has an abundant baitfish population, and the trout know. When the Sierra’s receive a large amount of water during the winter, the baitfish populations explode and as a result the rainbows get really big, really quick. When the local rivers are swollen during runoff, Frenchman’s is a great backup for a productive day on the water. Easily approached along the shores while walking/wading. We feel it is most productive to fish from a float tub, boat or stand up paddle board.
SEASONS AT FRENCHMAN’S
After ice off, the water remains cold for a few months. While many of the rainbows are lethargic, the indicator fishing can be phenomenal until the water warms. Suspending chironomids in deep water (15-25’) on slip indicators is a popular and effective method. Chironomids spend a majority of their time near the bottom of a lake, providing an easy meal for the fish after a long winter. Leech patterns on full sink lines do well this time of year if the fly line is heavy enough to present the fly near the bottom.
When the water warms in the summer months, the fish key in on a few specific bugs & baitfish. Damsels, callibaetis, caddis and small baitfish make up the majority of the trout’s diet. This can be a really fun time of year to strip flies, whether near the surface or dredging the bottom.
Finding weed beds around shallow portions of the lake (near Lunker or Turkey Points) is a great place to locate damsel habitat. Once found, the fish will readily take a damsel nymph slowly stripped along the edge of the weed bed. Positioning yourself is critical, as putting your fly in the “zone” for the longest amount of time will greatly increase success.
The baitfish populations show themselves in shallow coves during the summer months. This is one of the best times to fish a big baitfish pattern. In low light conditions, trout are often seen busting through a thick cloud of baitfish. Put your fly remotely close to the trout and get ready to hold on.
As fall brings summer heat to an end, the fish continue feeding heavily in preparation for the winter months under the ice. When fishing in the fall, most trout will grab just about any fly pattern when presented well. Leeches, baitfish, callibaetis, and chironomids will provide a few grabs. The solitude found at Frenchman’s in the fall is an added bonus. The beauty is almost worth the trip itself.
Once ice covers the lake around December, fly anglers must wait until spring. Ice fishing is popular here among locals (Pyramid Lake offers fantastic winter Stillwater fishing).
As mentioned above, a wide variety of techniques prove effective at Frenchman’s. Indicator Fishing and stripping on sink lines of varying sink rates offer the angler the most versatility. Bring multiple setups with different fly lines and flies.