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The Monster Trout of Pyramid Lake

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POSTED December 16, 2013 12:30 a.m.

The exception to the “Giant Trout are impossible to catch” rule,  where you stand a really good chance of catching a trout over 8 pounds, is a place  called Pyramid Lake and it lies just northeast of Reno, Nevada. Located on the huge Paiute Indian Reservation, Pyramid Lake is populated by Lahontan Cutthroat Trout which can grow to over 40 pounds.

The Pyramid Lake Trout is the largest freshwater trout in the world. Explorer John C. Fremont described them as “salmon-trout” that ranged from 2 to 4 feet in length. Commercial fishing in the early 1900s almost drove them to extinction and by the 1930s they were thought to be extinct. Then a sharp young biologist found some original Pyramid strain trout living on Pilot Peak along the Nevada –Utah border. The leaders of the Paiute tribe were anxious to bring back the huge fish to their lake and the restocking of the lake with the Pilot Peak strain has been a huge success.

 I kid you not! On a winter day at Pyramid, five pound cutthroat trout are fairly common and the biggest fish in any given day will usually be over 10 pounds. Think about that, 5- to 10-pound trout! Really! You’ve heard the old adage that if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Well, that’s not the case with Pyramid Lake. The average angler really does stand a pretty good chance of catching a huge trout at Pyramid.

 The most productive method of catching Pyramid Cutts is fly fishing by wading out from shore as far as possible and casting big woolly worms or wooly buggers on a fast sinking line. Many anglers take a milk crate or a short step ladder out into waist deep water to serve as a casting platform. You cast as far out into the lake as you can, wait a minute or so to let your line settle to the bottom, and then strip your line back toward you in short pulls.  Insulated neoprene waders are a must as are long johns underneath and neoprene gloves to keep your fingers from freezing. It’s great to bring along an RV to get warm in. About the longest I can stand the cold at one time is a half hour, so I come back to the RV and stick my hands in a cup of boiling coffee to thaw them.

You must buy a special tribal fishing license and don’t need a Nevada license as long as you only fish on Pyramid Lake. There are great hotel accommodations in the Reno-Sparks area and after a hard days fishing you can enjoy all of the amenities that go along with the area. The limit is two fish between 17 and 24 inches, or one fish can be over 24 inches. Check with the Tribal authorities at Sutcliff where you get your license. Actually, I recommend you take lots of photos and release everything. That’s how you keep a great fishery. 

If you want to make it easy on yourself, hire a local guide to show you the ropes. I contacted the Reno Fly Shop at 775-853- 7368 and, they will guide you and a buddy for a full day for $375 and teach you everything you need to know. Some of their anglers have caught and released trout over 10 pounds! If you want a trout to hang on the wall, you can now take several photos and a few simple measurements and your taxidermist can make a beautiful mounted trout for your wall. Even better still, your trophy trout gets released to spawn and pass on his wonderful genes! How’s that for a happy ending?



Until next week,

Tight Lines  

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