Fly Fishing Pyramid Lake Nevada

by | Mar 1, 2018 | Lahontan Cutthroat, Pyramid Lake | 1 comment

When I began working in the fly shop in Jackson Hole, WY in 1987, we had VHS tapes playing while customers roamed.  One tape was of Larry Shoenborn’s TV show, Fishing the West.  Larry was catching Lahontan cutthroat from a ladder in Nevada on Pyramid Lake.  The once believed extinct cutthroat were gigantic!  I had to go.  But there was too much water around Jackson Hole for a fanatic young trout bum to make the ten hour drive.

 

February 28

 

Today, thirty-one years later, Granny and I arrived at the massive electric-blue salty oasis for our first time.  It’s thanks to the PLake Dealer Summit organized by Darin Elmore and local guides and sponsored by Scientific Anglers, Winston and Umpqua.  About twenty-five of us consisting of fly shop dealers and company employees gathered to fish, test gear, discuss product and have a blast.

 

Though the event began yesterday, I was booked to speak in Fresno, CA last night long before this event came together.  I delivered, “Fly Fishing in the Presence of a Man Eater” to the Fresno club but missed fishing yesterday and most of today.  Granny and I arrived at Pyramid around 4 PM.

 

 

 

 

While Granny opted not to fish this afternoon due to frigid conditions, I wasted no time.  We found the crew and soon I was on a ladder casting my 9’ 6-weight Winston with a Sonar Titan Int/Sink 3/Sink 5 fly line.  My flies were one large black screamer streamer at the point with a white bugger type fly (a Pyramid Lake pattern) on my dropper on my.

 

Fishing had been good for the guys.  It didn’t take long for me to get my first tug.  Wouldn’t you know, he was foul hooked.  Then my next one was also foul hooked.  Both fish were silvery in color and small for Pyramid.  Lahontan cutthroats are the largest of all cutthroat species and in fact, the world record came in 1925 and was 41lbs!

 

The setting on Pyramid is incredible.  The Lake is located on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation.  Anglers need a Pyramid Lake Tribal Fishing Permit that can be purchase in advance online.  The lake is named for the impressive pyramid shaped rock formation you can see here lit up at sunset.

 

Like in most places, just before dark the fishing came alive.  I landed several nice ones – nice by cutthroat standards in general – but small for the Lahontan cutthroats.  Nonetheless they were my first trout of 2018 and my first new species for my list of the year.  Stoked!

 

 

March 1

 

 

Last night was an early night and we were back to Pyramid Lake before 9 AM.  We’d likely arrived earlier but today’s forecast was for cold, rain, snow and ferociously high 30 mph wind with gust to 50 mph.  I was actually looking forward to the chaotic weather and the opportunity to use my heaps of Simms but it wasn’t so bad early on.  We split into two groups and Granny and I went with about ten guys to Spider Point.  I found a nice rock to cast from instead of the ladder today.

 

Longtime friend Jon Spiegel fished nearby off a point.  I streamer fished like last night while Jon went with a nymph and a bounce bugger under an indicator.  While I had some follows and fish that teased me on the hang, I couldn’t get a Lahontan to commit.  Jon on the other hand hooked into one that put a serious bend in his rod.

 

Lahontan cutthroats are known for their fierce fighting abilities compared to other cutthroats.  Jon’s cutty put on a fantastic fight.  The fish ran him long then fought him deep.  We didn’t have a net so Jon had himself a bit of a rodeo.  Luckily, experience and patience pays off and Jon landed a stunning fish!

 

Imagine this.  Jon’s fish here is less than 10lbs.  Pyramid Lake often produces 20lb fish.  That is massive.  But our guide today, Arlo Townsend, has caught several up near 30lbs.  I will be back!

 

 

 

Arlo Townsend photo

The morning session proved tough for everyone in our group except for Jon.  Jon hooked two other fish and landed one more almost as big as his first.  That called for a beer break with the guys before lunch.

 

The other group fished where I fished last night.  They did well and landed a nice fish like Jon’s.  But in two and half days there were no fish over 10lbs which Darin and the guides say is unusual when 25 dudes are fishing.  It didn’t matter.  Erick Johnson of Scientific Anglers grilled up a heap of delicious brats that were to die for.

 

I needed a fish to avoid a skunk so it was a no brainer to stay at the lunch spot where most the fish were taken all three days.  I first took a ladder nearly exactly where I had luck last night.  It was calm and protected but after a half hour without action I headed for the windy side of the point.

 

Wind and waves are always good for fish.  I skipped the ladder and waded out to my waist and began back casting in order to get my fly out into the wind.  On about my tenth cast I hooked up.  It was another ripper but after I put the heat on with my 0X I landed my one and only fish of the day.

 

Brad Befus was next to me and landed a fish seconds after I released mine.  We thought for sure we were about to tear them up.  But as fast as we caught our fish they were gone.  Gone for the next hour and we finally gave up and tried a new spot.

 

The new spot looked fantastic.  There was a problem however.  The horrific weather forecasted finally arrived.  This spot was exposed and the waves and wind were hectic.  I loved it but after about fifty high effort casts without a strike I reeled er in.  Sometimes you need to know when to call it.

 

It was a short but sweet trip to Pyramid Lake.  Today was indeed tough but my one fish was hefty.  It’s been a great trip that includes fishing a new state, catching a new species and meeting a bunch of new friends.  A special thanks to Darin, the guides, Scientific Anglers, Winston Fly Rods and Umpqua Feathers.

 

Tomorrow will be a long drive home.  Once home I’ll pack then head immediately to Baja Mexico.  My speaking tour is winding down and my fishing is about to heat up!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Lance

    Yep.. Big Cutts, wind and cold.. You know how to have fun! Looks like an American Jurassic Lake.. Thanks Jeff enjoy Mexico

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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