Back in Time, at Pyramid Lake

“We’ll switch off and take turns driving.” That was the plan as we left Phoenix at 6:00 pm and started a 12 hour drive to Northern Nevada. Ben was too excited to sleep and just kept going. He made it to around Tonopah around 3:00 am and was done. Jake drove the rest of the way in a rainstorm while the rest of us “kind of” slept. We arrived just as the sun was starting to lighten the sky.
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Pyramid Lake is immense, and to the passerby looks barren and void of any life. Devout flyfishers know better. The world record Cutthroat trout was caught here and weighed 41 pounds. Pyramid receives silt rich water from the Truckee river, contains a forage fish called a Tui Chub, and the almost relentless wind stirs all of this up and adds oxygen to create a Cutthroat producing masterpiece.

We dressed quickly to fight off the biting cold and strong wind. Ben from AZ Wanderings was the first to catch a fish. It took one of his hand tied Mahalo Nymphs.
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With a few more fish to hand we moved to a new area. Does this look familiar?
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Another of the nuances of Pyramid is that the best way to fish some of the beaches is to wade out to semi-deep water with a step ladder and place it in the sandy bottom. From atop the ladder you have a good view of the drop off where fish are cruising and more importantly, you are out of the cold water.
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More hookups and Cutthroat to hand.
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Day two found us up way before the sun to get the best spot on a crowded beach. We were the first on the water and before the sun was up we had all landed a few.
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As the sun was rising fishing got much faster. We had several doubles and it seemed at least one of us always had a fish on for the first hour of light. None of the fish were under 20″ long with the biggest ones going 26″. All fish came stripping sinking lines with black wooly worms and white popcorn tadpoles. Who knows why these fish eat these but they do and we were glad we brought lots of them.
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After a great morning we went and explored some new areas of the lake. The rocks and pelican point made you feel like you were on the moon. The wind died and so did the fishing. I think the lake was laughing at us for having such a good morning.
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The third and final day was our best on the lake. We were back at our spot from the day before and again, we were the first ones on the lake.
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I was rigged up with two tadpoles this time. A dark one and the faithful white and chartreuse, AKA popcorn, which had taken 90% of the fish the day before. We all felt confident after two full days on the water. After finding my rhythm I was throwing the entire 100′ fly line and some backing, a first for me. After casting I’d set my rod on the ladder and go net one of the other guys fish. This allowed the line to sink all the way to the bottom and put the flies in the zone. We caught several large Cutthroats up to 27″.
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What a trip. We had an awesome group of guys that made for great company. Landon was our tour guide for the weekend and showed us most of the beaches to fish. Ben lugged around his DSLR and captured many of these great images. A big thanks to Bruce Smith, Lee Novotny, and Rob Anderson for the help in preparing for this trip. We’ll be back to this big lake in the desert. It’s a place that time has forgotten.
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13 Responses to “Back in Time, at Pyramid Lake”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Nice!! Great pics, and write up! Hopefully I can make it down there next year.

  2. 2flyfish4 Says:

    awesome stuff man, Rob Anderson is the man.

  3. Kyle Says:

    Thanks so much.

  4. Jeff D. Welker Says:

    Thanks for the terrific report and wonderful images. Pyramid is on my bucket list and I’m trying to accumulate the specialized gear needed to improve my odds for success. Any amendment of your report to info on rods, reels, leaders, lines, etc would be greatly appreciated. I’ve very much want to know what brand/make of ladder you’ve featured in photo #25.

    Thanks again for sharing your great adventure.

  5. Kyle Says:

    Thanks guys, Jeff. I received your email and replied but I think it would be helpful to others to answer your questions. Below is a portion of my response to your email.

    For fly rod set up I used a Sage ONE 9′ 8wt. My other buddies used 9′ 8wts from TFO, and Winston. I am a big fan of Galvans and used a Galvan Torque 8. Fly line choice is important. The fish at pyramid like flies right on the bottom. We all used lines with very fast sinking heads and intermediate running lines. I went with a RIO outbound short in 7wt. When using outbound short lines I usually go down one line size so that I can carry more line in the air when I have lots of it out. For leaders we used 4′ or 12lb Flouro. So 2x tippet or we just used Seguar flourocarbon line. Pyramid fish are not line shy and pull hard. I also had a fast action 6wt set up with a floating line, large indicator, and some flashy nymphs. Landon said that this is usually how he gets the most fish at pyramid but on this trip we caught the most stripping. 9 to 1 probably.

    I did a lot of research on ladders and ended up with this one.
    It was perfect. Very light to carry, sturdy once planted in the sand, and taller than most ladders there. So I was out of the water and warm. The other guys purchased this ladder as soon as we got home for next years trip.

    You may tie flies. If you do tie up some size 10 pyramid lake tadpoles. Like this but with a white foam top, white marabou tail, and chartruese crystal chenille.
    I’d be happy to tie some for you if you need a few.

  6. Arizona Wanderings Says:

    Very nice dude. Looking forward to doing it again next year.


  7. Craig P Says:

    Good to see someone made it there this year. My trip I had planned never happened lots of guys just kind of backed out… (kinda happening a lot lately)…. Good to see you had some success!

  8. Kyle Says:

    Thanks Craig, we’ll let you know if we go next year.

  9. Landon Says:

    Excellent pics Kyle. Is that underwater pic the one I took? I never got a look at it after we shot it.

  10. Kyle Says:

    Yes sir! Turned out great!

  11. Colton Says:

    Awesome write up! You know you are getting spoiled when you can call a 21″ fish below average.

  12. Patrick Says:

    What an epic trip. I really need to get my fly fishing mojo going this year so I can keep up with you next year. Hope to see you on boulder this fall!

  13. Kyle Says:

    Look forward to it Patrick. First week of Octoberish.

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