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Pyramid Lake; good times

Article and photos by Chuck Giles
04/07/16 -- Some fishing trips are ones you like to put in your memory album as just plain good. This past weekend at Pyramid Lake was one of those. Company was good, weather was good, accommodations equally so and the boat ran great! Oh, I almost forgot, the fishing wasn’t too shabby either.

Pyramid Lake Marque, by chuck Giles

«Welcome to Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake, about 40 miles north of Reno, is deceiving as bodies of water go. It is a virtual ocean that appears out of nowhere as you crest a rise in the middle of the high desert. At first glance, you would not imagine it is almost 30 miles long and nine miles wide. It is. When you are on the water, it seems as though every point of shore is just a short jaunt in the boat. It is not. We enjoyed a virtual cruise both days getting to Monument Point from the launch at Pelican Beach in a friend’s 21 foot Design Concept.

As I get older I appreciate the comfort aspect of fishing now nearly as much as catching the Lahontan Cutthroat this lake provides. The world record of this species came from these waters. For all the trivia lovers, Pyramid Lake was the stand-in for the Sea of Galilee in the 1965 biblical movie “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

Now onto the fishing or more specifically, the catching of fish we were fortunate to experience. We trolled with Flatfish rigged on a three- way swivel setup and drop line to hold a weight. This seemed to be more convenient in our situation rather than using downriggers because we had four fishermen, but only three rods out. We took turns on bringing in the fish.

First morning, we started trolling not far from the newly refurbished ramp and it wasn’t long before one of our rods started bouncing and the cry of “Fish on” from the back of the boat was clearly heard.

Gary, Pete and Keith arriving at Pyramid Lake, by Chuck Giles
Gary, Pete and Keith arriving at Pyramid Lake

At Pyramid, there is a slot-limit of sorts; no fish less than 17 inches is to be kept. Likewise, you must release any fish between 20-24 inches. So, in a nutshell, you may take home two fish per angler in the 17-20 inch range and one of those may be over 24. Clear as mud? Suffice it to say, it feels strange releasing fish in the 20 inch range. Overall we kept five of the legal size and released at least as many.

My three co-anglers, Keith, Gary and Pete had never been here before. Nonetheless I have a feeling they will return.

I have made quite a few trips to Pyramid, but this was my first experience trolling from a boat. In the past I employed the other popular method of fishing from a step ladder near shore.

The ladder technique is simple and very effective. With chest waders on, you wade out to about chest deep, set your ladder in the sandy bottom, climb up and repeatedly cast out with spinners, spoons, flies and tubes. Many times you can actually see the fish swimming at the base of your ladder, which can be very frustrating if you are not catching any.

Pyramid Lake ladders, by chuck Giles
Ladder Fishing at Pyramid Lake

On most weekends it is not unusual to see 30-40 ladders lined up on the several beaches there, evenly spaced with anglers plying their own particular methods of nabbing a trout. It sounds much weirder and crowded than it actually is when you are one of the ladder bound casters. Make sure to take a net and be careful when you have to come down to capture the fish.

You do not need a Nevada fishing license here. The lake is on a Paiute Indian Reservation so you need to purchase a tribal parking and boating permit. Your boat must be currently registered, however, in your state. You must also use barbless hooks.

Be sure to read all rules and regulations in the provided brochure.

Several caveats; if there is a forecast for any wind, think twice before launching a boat, as this lake churns up unbelievably rough at times. I have seen, in one weekend, mirror calm water changing to six foot breakers, mini-typhoons, tents flying through the air and vehicles being virtually sandblasted. I guess I’m telling you to get an accurate forecast prior to planning an outing here. Still, the advantages and adventures far outweigh what Mother Nature can occasionally dish out here.

For accommodations and current fishing information contact the Crosby Lodge in Sutcliffe, Nevada at 775-476-0400. These people are friendly and provide a small tackle store (including all the gear you will need for a successful trip), restaurant and lodging.

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