Pyramid Lake

Southwest January February 2020 Fly Fishing Magazine Cover Look for my EXPOSURE on fly fishing for Pyramid Lake's Lahontans in the January/February 2020 issue of Southwest Fly Fishing.


Rebuilding the Beast

Revive Fly Fishing JournalLook for my photo essay appearing in the Summer 2016 issue of Revive


Directions to Pyramid Lake

From Reno

From Reno/Sparks follow the Pyramid Lake Highway (State Route 445) north approximately 37 miles. Travel time is about 45 minutes to reach Sutcliffe. The bulk of the fishing access is found along the westside of the lake. Select the "Map" link above to get locations of boat ramps and beach access.


Fly Fishing Pyramid Lake 2020

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout at Pyramid Lake Nevada over 10 pounds are caught by fly anglers on a frequent basis in 2020.

As I write this, the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, if you are thinking about fishing Pyramid Lake in late March or the months of April or May, please read the important announcement below from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

Fly fishing from the shore of Pyramid Lake in winter and early spring is highly effective.

With a deadly pandemic impacting so many people in late March 2020, I'm struggling to find the motivation to write up a "fishing report" on Pyramid Lake. Then again, with millions of people in California and Nevada required to stay at home, maybe a handful of those people might appreciate something other than the constant fire-hose of news about the spread of COVID-19. So with that in mind, here's a summary of a multi-day trip to Pyramid Lake.

Pyramid Lake Lahontan cutthroat trout with red spawning color

March has become my sweet-spot to load up the ladders and drive over the Sierras into Western Nevada. While the weather can turn overnight from sunny and warm to snowing and brutally cold, the fishing from the beaches really begins to heat up. We dodged an early cold front in the first week of March, and rolled into Pyramid under blue skies with mid-day highs around the upper 50's.

A moon sets behind the hills surrounding Pyramid Lake in Nevada

In the three solid days we fished, the catch rate amongst myself and other anglers I talked with ran in the two to five fish per day. And then there was one guy, an outlier, Shawn. He reached a catch-rate near double digits. Not uncommon at Pyramid Lake especially in late winter. What is impressive, out of the ten or so Lahontans he landed, five of them weighed between 10 and 18 pounds! (The photo at the top of the page is one of the smaller, ten pound Lahontans Shawn landed.)

Fly fishing on ladders along Pyramid Lake Nevada at dawn's first light

What made Shawn the successful outlier at Pyramid? Was he lucky? Was he good? Did he have the magic fly? Certainly, the dude could fish; magic fly maybe. To me at least, Shawn's obvious advantage, he was smart enough to have packed his float-tube, and brave enough to push out beyond the ladders at the beaches we fished.

Fishing a fly on along the sandy shore of Pyramid Lake from a ladder with a stripping basket

The first morning I saw one after another big cutthroat porpoise above the water - hundreds of feet beyond anyone's casting distance. Fish were clearly present, but either not feeding or out of range. I watched from my ladder that morning, Shawn cruising in his float-tube about 200 yards off-shore. Late in the morning it happened.

He hooked into something big. He moved parallel to the beach in an attempt to net it. Not sure how long he tried that idea, but later I saw him hauling his fish in the direction of the beach further up the ladder-line. Too far away to see or hear what he eventually towed into the beach and netted. I caught up to him later that day. It weighed in at over 18 pounds. The photographs and video he shared with me didn't lie.

Pyramid Lake Closure - Spring 2020

The following announcement came on March 20, 2020:
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe passed a motion to close the lake to all activities (fishing, camping, day use, boating, etc.) starting on Monday, March 23, 2020. Fishing is currently allowed for the weekend of March 21st and 22nd. The date to re-open has not been declared at the time of this writing.