GOOD PLAN, GREAT FISHING -
Sometimes it happens, the plan works, just as good, or better than you envisioned. My return to Reno, Nevada and fishing Pyramid Lake was better than I could have imagined. Like a well organized military assault team, our group of seven fishers hit the Pyramid beaches with fly rods in hand, four wheel drives in gear, and step ladders in tow. We met our goal of catching fish, catching big fish, and getting some memerable pictures. We took no prisoners, all fish were released, mission accomplished.
Famous for fish
Pyramid Lake is a good fishery fall, winter, and spring with April being one of the best months to fish. Dave Weaver, Joe Staller, and I left the metro Phoenix area during 5 o’clock rush hour traffic and arrived at Sand Hole Beach 13-hours later. There is not much interstate driving between Phoenix an the lake. It’s a huge lake, about 170-square miles, and can be reached off of highway 445, thirty miles north of Reno, Nevada. All of the lake is on the Paiute Reservation so a tribal fishing license is all you need. The permits are $9 a day or $75 per season. Artificial-only (lures or flies) and barbless hooks are required. I was told that the Rangers do check often. Pyramid Lake often pops up on one’s “Top 10 Lakes to fish for trophy trout list.” I don’t think you would get any argument from any of the guys that fished it this trip.
Focused on fishing
Our only diversion from our fishing was when we drove into Reno to pick up Joe’s long time fishing buddy, Lee McKenna, at the airport. We were back at the lake at daybreak the next day, and started to settle in catching fish. Phil Click, David Hwang, and Gentry Smith got a later start than we did and they arrived at 2 PM. We fished until dark before we headed to Crosby’s Lodge where we were all staying. The accommodations were similar to Lee’s Ferry, basic, but much better than tent camping. Members of the group took turns cooking the evening meals, and everyone was responsible for their own breakfast and lunch. The group was focused on fishing, and had no problem being on the water from sunrise until sunset.
Step ladders for fly fishing?
I found Pyramid’s fishing to my liking, since it was similar to saltwater fishing. Large body of water, nothing in the way of your back cast (except other fly fishers, sorry Gentry I didn’t see you), nothing in the water to fowl your hook, and the fish were big and strong. I think the fishing from shore is just as good as fishing from a boat. One of the strange things about this lake is the use of step ladders. The lake has a gradual decent with some drop-offs or ledges where the fish like to travel. Standing on step ladders will help you see the drop- offs, and help you get more fly line off the water. Sometimes you need to cast 60-feet, other times the ledge was so close we took fish just off of the rod tip. Similar to other saltwater situations the fish would arrive in a group, and all seem to leave at once. The fish were most active when the wind and waves stirred up the bugs on the bottom. Wind, cold, nasty weather was good for fish catching. Another observation, when one of us caught a fish, the guy next to that person would crowd in closer and usually pick up a fish also. Joe “The Mooch” Staller perfected this technique. The locals were friendly and offered suggestions when asked. The atmosphere was beach party and you could have a good time here if you were catching fish or not. When the catching slowed, I was afraid that the lack of sleep would cause me to doze on my ladder, and the next thing I would be bouncing my head on the rungs before making a splash. It would be difficult to explain how I got carp lips on a fishing trip.
The big one
My personal best fish came during a bit of a lull. The weather was too nice, it was calm, and several of the guys had gone to the truck for lunch. I was fishing nymphs under a strike indicator when a heavier fish hit. I had already caught some 3-, 4- and 5-pound fish and I was getting used to horsing them in, but this fish was different. I was making very little progress, this was a really good fish, or I had fowl hooked a fish. After some grief from the “Peanut Gallery”, and 15-minutes into the battle, the big fish came into view. People started to get excited. It was a big fish! Anyone got a big net? It took another 15-minutes to net the fish, weigh the fish, and get a bunch of photos. Since the fish was over 10-pounds we rushed it to Crosby’s for the official weight and measurement. On the official scale the fish weighed 11-pounds, 4-ounces and measured 30.5- inches. Joe Staller and I then rushed the fish out the door and into the lake to revive it. After 25-minutes the fish swam away and I am glad to say, that fish is still in the gene pool.