Fly Fishing Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake is the renowned fishery and home to the well-known Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT). These trout grow to enormous proportions and can reach sizes exceeding twenty pounds. The trout here roam sandy shorelines not dissimilar from tropical landscapes. Weather conditions and time of year will dictate the tactics used and locations fished on the lake. Given the size of Pyramid Lake, it is not uncommon to see completely different weather conditions from the south end to the north end. The lake has bounced back after a variety of factors led to declines in fish populations and lake conditions. Pyramid Lake is a unique experience and should be on any serious anglers bucket list. Pyramid Lake lies on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Reservation and anglers are permitted to fish from October 1st-June 30th.
SEASONS ON PYRAMID LAKE
We typically break down the Pyramid Lake season into 3 distinct sub-seasons. Our in-house guide, Mike Anderson, does a great job breaking these different times and how to increase your odds of success
Here are links to the articles describing the different sections of the Pyramid Lake season.
When the season opens October 1st, LCT are on the hunt. They chase down the Tui Chub and gorge on large pods of the baitfish. Typically, the water is still warm this time of year, meaning the cutthroat will suspend in 15-40ft of water. It will be important to present a moving fly at the right depth this time of year. On occasion, baitfish will jump on the surface- giving away the location of a hungry LCT. During this time of year, stripping setups with big baitfish patterns will produce the best streamer grabs of the year. A float tube or boat allows for better access to deeper water this time of year.
Once the water temperatures drop as winter sets in, the fish become more lethargic and slowly cruise the ledges looking for an easy meal. When the water is cold, Lahontan Cutthroat prefer a slow presentation- meaning the indicator rig will be the best option. During this time of year, grabs may be sporadic and spread out throughout the day. The fishing is tough, but you have a good chance at a grab from a fish around the 5-20lb range this time of year. While the fishing is often slow, it is important to keep your flies in the water to be as efficient as possible. Be patient and make every opportunity count.
As winter turns to spring, the LCT begin to cruise shallow areas in search of cold water flowing into the lake. March marks the beginning of their spawn season, allowing the fish to form large pods and schools. When this happens, they stop feeding on bigger streamers or leeches and key in on chironomids and other aquatic insects. Indicator fishing is the most productive method during spring. This tends to be one of the busiest seasons out at the lake, so be prepared to fish with others in proximity (99% are nice and willing to share info). Seeing a school of brightly colored LCT cruising the turquoise shallows is something you’ll never forget.
Before the season closes, the fish turn back on and feed on the tui chub minnows. The water temps continue to warm and as a result push the fish down below 15 feet. When the fish go deep, a shooting head with fast sinking rate is necessary to get baitfish patterns quickly down to 15-40ft. The LCT pack on the pounds and hammer the baitfish all the way through the season’s end on June 30th. This time of year remains a local favorite for a few people and hard fighting fish.
Stripping Sinking Lines – Shooting heads such as the Outbound Short from Rio or Surf Cold from Scientific Anglers allows the angler to present a fly as deep as 30-40ft if necessary. These lines put the flies right on the bottom in the sand-where they belong. Floating flies will hover right above the bottom when fished on these lines, allowing you to fish the bottom without snagging rocks, vegetation, or other debris. The most common leader used while stripping is 10-15lb fluorocarbon with a tag system and total length of no more than 8 feet.
Indicator– When fishing an indicator, a 6-8wt is necessary to cut through the bone chilling wind. A popular choice among anglers is the 6wt Redington Dually paired with a Rio Switch Chucker. With one roll cast, you can effectively fish deep nymph rigs off a ledge. If a switch rod isn’t an option, any 6-8wt single hander will get it done. Our typical leader setup consists of 8-10lb fluorocarbon with a total length of 12 feet.
When fishing an indicator rig, a 6-8wt switch rod setup with a floating line is the preferred rod for fishing Pyramid Lake. Additionally, a single hand 8wt rod will work when paired with a floating fly line. The indicator helps to suspend sinking flies at a set depth off the lake bottom. This technique is very effective for fly fishing Pyramid Lake as you can present flies for a long period of time over the deep ledges and drop-offs.