Pyramid Lake, a great place to fish |

Pyramid Lake, a great place to fish

Spring means that the large Lahontan Cutthroat trout of Pyramid Lake in Nevada will soon begin to show up in the shallows to spawn.

Called “Big Red,” these large trout begin to congregate near the town of Sutcliffe in an area called the Nets. This year the fishing has been unusually slow for most regulars that frequent this popular Nevada water.

This large lake, northeast of Reno, sits entirely within the Paiute Indian Reservation. Anglers need not have a Nevada fishing license, but are required to have a day or season permit to fish. Angling costs $6 per day or $32 per season. Boat permits carry an additional charge as well as fees for camping overnight.

Permits can be picked up at the lake or at some sporting goods shops in Reno. Only angling with artificial lures is permitted.

Anglers fishing from boats or the shore can find good success in the spring. The shore anglers typically fish with spinning or fly fishing gear.

“Tor-p-do” lures are a favorite of the spin fishermen as well as flies. Flies are simple woolly worm or woolly bugger patterns typically in large sizes such as #8 through #4. Effective colors include black, purple, olive and white. Other colors such as chartreuse and pink can also provide some action.

Fly fishermen use fly rods that range from a 6- to 10-weight rod, depending on the wind and weather conditions. A fast sinking shooting head is the usual line of choice. If you are purchasing a standard sinking head, the rule of thumb is to get a shooting head one weight greater than your rod weight. This can vary depending on the action of your fly rod.

One of the most unique techniques that fly and spin fishermen use are ladders or milk crates to stand on to aid casting. Standing on a platform allows an angler to let his or her arms hang down freely and puts less stress on the shoulders and neck. It also permits the anglers to stay out of the water a little more and aids them in staying warm.

This past weekend a group of Truckee anglers took a trip to Pyramid. The weather was unseasonably warm and there was enough wind most of the day to provide a slight chop. Contrary to most good days at Pyramid, which are stormy ones, this weather seemed like it would be more conducive to producing a good case of sunburn rather than fish.

Boy, was I wrong. The fishing was so good that we all caught many fish. While we did not catch anything truly large we caught many fish in the 16- to 20-inch range. The largest caught was approximately 23 inches long. With the water temperature at 61 degrees, the fish were incredibly active and fought extremely hard.

One of my very seasoned fishing friends had once told me that fishing Pyramid in May is a very good experience, because fishing is very good and the typical crowds have subsided. Boy, was he right. We had traveled here on a tip from a couple of anglers in the party that had some pretty terrific outings this past week. It was spectacular.

Fishing at Pyramid is what I call social fishing, since you are typically fishing in a huge crowd, called a line-up. A line-up can stretch for miles during the spring because the fish are generally very plentiful. Going in May you avoid these huge line-ups and the fishing is stellar.

Our group of anglers, a very social group I might add, were among a very small handful of anglers fishing. An outing with good friends combined with some great fishing is hard to beat.

Pyramid Lake will still be good for at least another week during the days. Once water temperatures exceed 64 degrees expect the fishing to be only morning and late evening bites if you are going out and fishing from shore. With these unseasonably warm temperatures, this warming could occur by this coming Memorial Day weekend.


Boca – (18,906) ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair. Anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are having some success. Anglers near the dam are still catching fish. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boaters are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing is getting good. Fly fishermen near the inlet have experienced fair action early and late. Nymphs and streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught recently. When it calms down, midges have also produced.

Donner Lake – Fishing has been fair to good. Weekly plants are stimulating action. Anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had limited success. The water is slowly warming. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had limited success.

Lake Tahoe – (Elevation 6226.52) Fishing has been good for Mackinaw. Most fish are in the 5 to 7 pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for Mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair overall. Remember tributaries to Tahoe are closed to all fishing until July 1 and close again on Sept. 30. No fishing is also allowed within 300 ft. of these tributaries.

Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may be bagged or possessed) The lake is presently at its normal level. Fishing has been fair. Most use nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quigley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams, and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.

Little Truckee River – (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – (250 cubic feet per second) Fishing here has been fair to good with the increased flows. Fishing has been fair to good near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. Fly fishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca concentrate on nymphs and streamers with occasional hatches where a dry fly can work.

Prosser – (12,617 ac. ft.) Prosser has been fishing fair. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly fishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.

Stampede – (190,150 ac. ft.) Stampede is fair. Shore anglers are taking a few fish, some very nice size ones. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Topliners have fair to good success for kokanee salmon. Most used a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Look for improvement as the weather warms. Fly fishermen have had it tough during the early season near Stampede’s inlets. It has been hit or miss with a variety of nymphs, streamers and emergers.

Truckee River – The release from the dam at Tahoe City is presently at 76 cubic feet per second. In the Truckee area it is running at 258 cubic feet per second. The river is in good shape in the lower river from Truckee downstream. Fishing is fair in the Truckee area with most success in the lower river. Prince nymphs, Bird’s nests and pheasant tail nymphs have produced some fish as well as streamers.

Other Waters – Davis and Frenchman lakes are fishing fair to good this past week. Reports indicate that it has not been consistent. Pyramid Lake is very good. Look for steady improvement through the Memorial Day weekend.

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