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Pyramid Lake fishing picking up

Bruce Ajari

It is nearing spring and the Lahontan cutthroat trout in Pyramid Lake, 35 miles northeast of Reno on State Route 445 (Pyramid Highway), are beginning to get active after a long winter hiatus. Pyramid lies completely on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. As a result, a Nevada fishing license is not needed to fish the lake. One only needs a daily tribal permit to fish the lake.

Only artificial lures or flies are permitted on this lake, no bait. A maximum of two hooks are permitted on a single rod and reel. A slot limit is in place. An angler may keep two fish, only one of which may be more than 24 inches in length. A keeper is a fish that is between 16 and 19 inches or more than 24 inches. It should be noted here that the way the fish are measured is by fork length and not total length as anglers are most accustomed. The fork length is measured from the tip of the nose to the fork or notch of the tail.

A daily fishing permit runs $9, or you may purchase a season permit for $74. The season runs from Oct. 1-June 30 each year. It is closed to fishing in the summer months because of the potential for high mortality rates due to the warm water temperatures.

Pyramid’s winter season has been characterized by many veteran anglers as one of the slowest in recent memory. This has not been due to the lack of fish, but rather the higher lake levels due to the significant amount of run-off that occurred from last year’s good snowpack and the minimal diversions this year. The lake has risen a good three to four feet by most estimations.

As a result, the areas normally accessed by fishermen could not be reached this season. The lack of “good” spots to access a drop-off has been severely limited by the high water. This has made fishing tough. Until the fish actually came into very shallow water they would not be accessible to the normal bank angler.

With the approach of spring, we are now seeing good numbers of fish beginning to show up in the shallows. Cutthroats are spring-spawning fish, so they tend to get very active in the spring as the water warms. They also tend to concentrate in huge numbers during this time.

Over the past week, the fish have begun to show up in good numbers in the shallow waters, and if you can find a concentration of them, you can have a banner day.

During the spring, lineups of shore anglers using milk crates for ladders to stand on are a common site. This year, due to the lack of locations with drop-offs, we are also seeing a huge increase in the use of boats, float-tubes and pontoon-style watercraft that fly anglers are using. This past week the lineup of shore anglers was quite numerous, but just as numerous was a secondary lineup of assorted watercraft about 30 yards offshore. The fish were surrounded!

If you choose to take a watercraft please be aware that a pontoon-style tube with oars will require you to purchase a daily boat permit from the tribe. This runs an additional $9 per day or $74 for the season. Regular float tubes are exempt.

Great care should be exercised when using a watercraft on Pyramid due to the unpredictable winds that can come up on the lake. Each year there are a number of boating accidents that occur on this lake due to the weather. Float tubes in particular can be blown all the way across the lake. Be aware of the weather at all times!

Tribal permits may be obtained on the reservation at the Pyramid Lake Store, Crosby’s Lodge, Pyramid Lake Ranger Station or the Marina. There is also a store in Nixon as well as the Tribal offices. For anglers wanting to get their Tribal permits in Reno, they are available at Mark Fore and Strike, the Reno Fly Shop and the Sportsman’s Warehouse.

I will discuss some of the techniques that anglers employ while fishing from shore at Pyramid next week. Spin angling and fly angling are both very good techniques.

Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.


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