Kathy and I had visited Pyramid Lake in October, to catch the opening of the Lahontan cutthroat trout season (see prior post entitled “Road Trip, Part 8”). My next opportunity to fish Pyramid Lake came at the end of this last December. Kathy and I were in the Bay Area (California) to visit our families for the Holidays, and I had previously arranged for a visit to the lake with my son, Ethan, while Kathy preferred to stick around with the grandkids. It was raining in the East Bay as we headed out on I-80, destination Reno, on the evening of 12/20. It continued to rain right up to and over Donner Summit, and we got to Reno in record time, where we stayed at the Grand Sierra Resort.
The next morning it took 30 to 40 minutes to get to the lake from Reno, driving to the north.
We redeemed ourselves the following day. The helpful folks at the Reno Orvis shop provided us with some info. They recommended Cattle Guard and Monument beaches, and we went to the former of the two first. Catching nothing there, we drove north to Monument. At Monument, you can drive right up to the beach, and there is a distinct drop-off just a few yards out. As we began to cast Woolly Buggers and Pyramid Lake-style Woolly Worms, we noticed one guy getting successive hook-ups. I connected first with a purple Woolly Worm, and by the time the sun had set, we had caught a few average size fish (20+ inches), on buggers, woolly worms and a white/chartreuse foam beetle.
We returned to Monument the next morning, to try again. Over the last few years, Pyramid Lake has been producing monstrous Lahontan cutthroats, and you never know when the next fish you hook will go over 30 inches. If you fail to hook a huge trout, you must content yourself with the “smaller” ones. I caught a hefty fish on a white and chartreuse woolly worm, and then our attention was attracted to the three fishermen 50 yards to our left, who had begun to holler. One of them had caught a big one. When the time came to pack up and head home, we stopped by these guys and asked to see a photo of the big one. It was 34 inches long and weighed 19 pounds and one ounce – and one of the trio had landed a 33 inch fish earlier in the day! I asked what they were using. After first stripping buggers with no success, they had changed to suspending buggers under a strike indicator (!). As Ethan and I drove away, I recalled that the Orvis shop had recommended using a “balanced leech” under an indicator. Not being conversant in stillwater fishing technique, I had never heard of this fly, nor was I sufficiently on the ball, at the time, to realize that a bugger might be a suitable substitute. Thus, I let the suggestion slip from my mind… Since then I have researched this fly. The idea is that balancing the fly to hang horizontally under the indicator is much more life-like. Tying videos are available, and I will be sure to have a box-full of balanced leeches ready to go, upon our next visit to Pyramid Lake.