I’m usually playing catch up and posting on old trips but I thought I’d switch things up and add a recent post about my recent days at the ever so popular Pyramid Lake, NV. As this Christmas we were out to California to celebrate with my in-laws, I had the opportunity to spend three long days on the large, sandy-bottomed lake. The forecast for the week predicted some snow and overall frigid conditions. Usually this is a good thing, but being so late in the season I figured that this would not increase my chances of hooking up with what the locals refer to as “big red”.

My in-laws graciously let me post up at their cabin just outside of Truckee and I set out for the lake on Monday morning, stopping first at Reno Fly Shop for a license and any odds and ends that I still needed. Much to my dismay I lost my stillwater box on my last trip so preparing for this trip involved tying a lot of bugs.  For those that haven’t fished Pyramid Lake NV, that means tying a lot of odd bugs.  Lots of large wooley worms in various colors and foam beetles. After getting a few things and getting some last-minute advice I set out for a popular starting point – the nets.

Just as I had imagined the “nets” area was lined with fisherman posted up on ladders of all kinds. I rigged up, grabbed my ladder, and got out in line. Casting was a little different than I’m used to, but I quickly got comfortable double-hauling out the entire fly line. It was cold. The waves came in and conditions overall seemed somewhat bleak. There was about 20 fishers lined up across the beach and I later found out that the fish the guy next to me landed was only the fifth pulled in by all twenty guys all day. The word was that the recent cold spell turned the fishing off and kept the fish holding deep and not cruising through the beaches. Regardless, I was determined. I fished the entire day without so much as a bump and was the last to leave the water.


Day two was forecasted to be the worst of the weather. It was just as cold as the day before but a storm was supposed to come through. Word of the tough conditions must have gotten out because I only saw one other fisher as pulled up to the nets area. The waves were bigger than yesterday but the sun made conditions more bearable. The waves churned up the sand bottom and the usually clear water was clouded up. After fishing for hours with no results, I felt my line stop and before I could even think I instinctively set the hook hard enough to make Roland Martin proud. I almost couldn’t believe when I felt something wiggle on the other end. The fight was relatively short as he hit probably twenty feet off my ladder. Finally, I netted my first Lahontan Cutthroat. It was a beautiful male that would probably be considered small by Pyramid standards – a “meager” twenty inches or so. Seeing that taking a picture while solo, on a ladder, in crashing waves, while trying to not lose my gear seemed too daunting I refrained from pulling out the camera.


Awhile later I looked to the north and saw the wall of a storm that seemed just as wide as the lake moving in. Great, I was in for it! Fishers had come and gone and the horizontal snow and growing waves that the storm brought with it sent all but one other guy and me headed for home. incoming-storm-at-pyramid-lake
I continued casting into the storm until it let up and gave rise to some AMAZING lighting. I took a break from fishing to take some pictures. My subject? My ladder and fishing gear. Despite the odd subject I think that some of the pictures turned out pretty sweet. I was actually way stoked on it. The lighting changed so rapidly and the view was simply breathtaking. I’m greatful I decided to shoot my ladder because otherwise I doubt I would have so diligently captured the amazing sight. I felt lucky to have witnessed such a beautiful moment there all alone in God’s creation. Hopefully, at least those that frequent Pyramid would appreciate them. I continued fishing and after no further action I moved and fished Wino Beach. Long story short….fished till dark and got…nothing. Here are a few of my favorite shots. For the record, almost all of these are straight off the camera.

Day 3. After putting in long cold two days with one fish to show for it I was ready for today to be the day. Weather was to be sunny all day and in this case I thought it would be good in that hopefully it would bring the water temps up enough to make the fish more lively and willing to cruise for food. Long story short…they weren’t. I spent the day at Wino Beach. I enjoyed this area as it felt somewhat secluded and it had a pronounced shelf that lined much of the beach. For most of the day it was only one other and myself that tried to tempt the fish. Early in the afternoon, I noticed the other guy bringing in a fish. He looked like he was struggling a bit and I called over to him to see if he wanted help. By his response I could tell that he could probably use it so I let my cast settle and I grabbed my net and waded to the beach. When I approached I saw that he indeed had a really nice fish on the line. I coaxed the blunt-faced beast into the net and I could almost feel the man let out a sigh of relief. With good reason too. Despite the fish’s somewhat deformed face the fish stretched to over 31 inches long. What a beast. I helped him with a few quick shots (he had only a camera phone) but he eventually opted to keep the fish.


Soon thereafter the man left and a group of three took his place. I assumed my post and continued to fish into the evening. I missed a hit and had a follow but remained fishless after the sun had set. It grew cold quickly and I gave myself five more casts. On the third I felt a bump and set the hook. My line went slack. Dangit! That was what I was waiting for. I couldn’t believe it. I made my final two casts and decided that I had to make one final cast in the direction that I got the hit in. I counted to forty and began my slow retrieve. Halfway through I felt another bump and I set the hook hard enough to scare Roland Martin. I felt something alive and I stared at the sky in unbelief. This fish felt good as it put a bend in my rod. I got it on the reel and after a good battle I netted a slim 24 inch male. I was stoked. A reward on literally my very last cast after three days of cold temperatures, strong winds, and waves. It was three days that definitely helped adequately introduce me to this desert lake and leave me wanting more. I knew that I had to come back in the spring as everyone had told me in search of big red.

pyramid lake lahontan cutthroat trout

About The Author

Chinese Boy

The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.

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