Denis Peirce: Pyramid Lake producing fewer limits, more whoppers |

Denis Peirce: Pyramid Lake producing fewer limits, more whoppers

The Presidents Day Fishing Derby takes place at Pyramid Lake the next two weekends. As we move past January and get into the middle of February, the fishing at Pyramid Lake picks up.

The water temps have bottomed-out and are beginning to rise, making the fish more active. Currently, due to our unseasonably warm weather, the water temps have risen to the 41- to 44-degree range. As a general rule of thumb for trout fishing, the food chain comes alive at 45 degrees.

The cutthroat trout in Pyramid have adapted to the cold winter temperatures and are active below the 45-degree mark. As the temps pick up and rise through the 50s the prime months for Pyramid fishing are February, March and April. There is still good angling into May.

This current storm front moving through the area bodes well for the first weekend of the derby. Cloud cover is a definite plus for those fishing shallow. The fish move into the shore areas under low light conditions such as cloud cover. But with the passing of a front, the wind picks up and can kick up the waves.

There are excellent weather resources online that give current and predicted air temps as well as wind and wave info for the lake. This data is at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site. It’s easier to follow a link from the Crosby Lodge Web site.

I was at Crosby’s two years ago for the derby. That year the winning fish was landed almost in front of Crosby’s by a fly angler fishing from shore. The top 20 places were split between shore anglers and boaters.

The most productive lures for boaters have been a shade of green, ranging from dark olive, “army truck,” to bright chartreuse. The fly anglers continue to do well with wooly bugger-style flies. The most popular colors are black with red tail, olive, white and purple. As the water warms, those fishing with nymphs under strike indicators will start getting better results.

Locations that produce well for shore anglers this time of the year are often associated with points. The wind sets up currents along the shoreline and the points concentrate the currents and attract feeding fish.

I checked with a number of my sources that fish Pyramid regularly. The consensus for this season is that there are fewer but larger fish being landed.

During January there were 18 fish confirmed in the 10- to 14-pound range, with one weighing in at more than 15 pounds. As often is the case, what is not happening may be more noteworthy. This season to date, there has been a decline in slot-limit fish landed at the same time as an increase in trophy-size fish. This is only anecdotal evidence, which may be due to the location of the slot size fish relative to the anglers.

The fishing rules for Pyramid Lake specify slot limits. You may only keep two fish. Only fish between 17 and 20 inches may be kept, except one more than 24 inches may be kept. You do not need a Nevada fishing license to fish Pyramid because it is on an Indian reservation.

You will need a tribal permit, which are available at the lake. Be sure to check the regulations when you get a permit as there are closed areas and gear restrictions for the lake. For more complete info go to

Another fishery that offers the chance at a large fish is Donner Lake, with its whopping mackinaw. The water temps range from 38 to 41 depending on time and location. Guide Keith Kerrigan has jigged up some nice fish from 90 to 125 feet down. The school of fish that have been concentrated off China Cove are beginning to scatter.

If we continue this warm pattern and the water temps hit the mid 40s, the fishing will get good. My hope is that we get into a wet pattern that will postpone the warming.

Currently the launch ramp at Donner is a bit treacherous. There are some underwater obstacles that have ripped the sidewall on a trailer tire and hung up a cross bar. Hopefully a load of gravel will be dumped in soon to solve the problem.

” Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union, the Sun’s sister paper in Grass Valley. He may be reached at

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