Where is Pyramid Lake?
The lake is in northwestern Nevada, a short 30 minute drive north of Reno. Most major airlines fly into Reno-Tahoe International, one of the most convenient airports anywhere. If you have an SUV or truck, beach access is easy.
Why is Pyramid Lake such an amazing destination?
In Pyramid Lake swim the famed Lahontan Cutthroat trout. They are the biggest cutthroat trout in the world and one of the biggest freshwater trout in the world. Most of us don’t have the time and money to head to Mongolia looking for Taimen, so having world class trout so close to us in the west is truly something special.
Due to high alkaline levels and a steady diet of the native Tui Chub bait fish, the trout here grow to an incredible size. Fly fishing for these huge trout is open in the fall, winter and spring months.
What kind of equipment do I need?
Don’t tangle with these monsters with anything smaller than a 7wt rod. We mostly use 8 wt single handed rods along with 6-8 wt switch rods.
Additionally, you will need an integrated shooting head line from 200-350 grains for retrieving flies such as wooly buggers and baitfish patterns. A floating line is also good for indicator fishing nymphs, or retrieving them without the indicator. A properly weighted reel with sufficient backing is recommended. If you have a saltwater set up, it will work at Pyramid Lake.
What kind of license do I need?
Because the lake is on Paiute land, you will need a license from the Paiute Indian Tribe which may be purchased at Pyramid Lake or at this site for $9 a day.
What’s it like on the lake in the winter?
Cold. From December to February you must dress in layers and be prepared for the nastiest of weather. Pyramid Lake sits at an elevation of 3,796 feet in the high desert. If an eastern wind picks up and you’re not prepared, you will wish you were not fly fishing. Come prepared, and the pay off is beyond worth it.
Pyramid Lake is so big where does one start?
Pyramid Lake is 188 square miles, almost the size of Lake Tahoe and shoreline access is staggering. Hiring a guide for your first time out makes all the difference in the world.
Most beaches will have fish on them at certain times of the year. If you have never been to Pyramid Lake before, you want the wind in your face. The wind makes current, which pushes bait fish in, that in turn will pull cutthroat in hunting for food.
Beaches such as The North and South Nets, Blockhouse, Warrior Point, Wino, and Pelican Point are all good starts. Look for fishermen, see if their rods are bent, if so that’s a good indication fish are in close and you need to get a line wet. Fly fishing at certain beaches can be a social event. Grab a beer at meet your neighbor in the line up.
I’ve heard guys use ladders. Do I need a ladder?
Yes and no. If big winds are making the lake choppy, it will help you to stay above the waves that can go over your waders. A ladder will also help you stay out of the cold water and will help you bomb out longer casts. Fly fishing without the ladder at Pyramid Lake though is sometimes more effective as you will not cast a shadow and you will stay more connected to your flies.
Can I camp overnight at the lake or bring an RV?
Yes, there is a small RV resort at the lake in Sutcliff and you can camp at any beach you want as long as you buy an overnight camping permit available here. You will be roughing it on the beaches as there are no hookups or water lines and only an occasional outhouse.
Can I launch a boat at Pyramid Lake?
Yes, there is a boat ramp at Pelican Point. A few unimproved “cowboy” boat launches can be found along the lake but I recommend putting your boat in at Pelican Point.
Do I need a boat to fly fish Pyramid, or a float tube, or pontoon?
It depends on conditions and season. Lahontan Cutthroat cruise the shelf which is in fly rod reach the majority of the season. The only time you may need a boat is in the early fall or late spring when fish are deeper in the thermocline. Pyramid Lake has claimed many lives and can take yours. Be very careful of the quick weather changes at the lake. Safety comes first.