A few friends from CA and I hit Pyramid lake last weekend. The fish were cruising and nibbling but hookups were far and few between. Between the three of us I bet we had over a dozen strikes but only three fish to hand.
My friend Dan and I headed to Pyramid Lake for a morning of fishing. After an extremely windy weekend, Monday morning was eerily calm and quiet. Those familiar with Pyramid may not necessarily interpret this calmness as a good sign, but I was happy to be rid of the wind after the weekend’s tirade.
The weather was pretty fluid throughout the morning. Temps never rose above 55 degrees and water temps hovered around 49 degrees, a bit on the cool side. Winds came and went with 11am to 1pm having the strongest gusts. It was partly cloudy most of the day. For all respects, a perfect Pyramid day.
So how did we fare? Once we found a beach that had cruising fish we did much better. I wound up 0-3 on the morning whereas Dan was 1-3. I don’t know if it was bad hook sets, late hook sets, or just overall bad luck, but I lost all three hookups without even seeing the fish. Yes, I checked the hook on each release to make sure it was good and sharp. Dan was able to land one very nice fish out of his grabs. In all cases, the fish were grabbing the olive and red buggers that I had tied earlier in the week. Not a single fish took a swipe at either midge or the black and pink bugger.
We finished up with sore arms at about 1pm and sat at the car to eat some lunch. We were both happy with the results and whereas it would have been nice to land one of my hooked fish, I can still revel in the satisfaction that my flies got grabs and were responsible for the sole landed fish. We did roam around and do some additional reconnaissance, checking out South and North Nets, Separator and Pelican Point. All these spots had considerably anglers as our beach, which had exactly two. We did spend some time up on the rocks watching the picket line of anglers at Pelican and noticed that the hookup rate was about every 15 minutes while the land rate was about 1-in-4. So I guess for the day we were about average.
When you check out the photos below, note a few things. These were all taken with a phone camera which proved to be a huge hassle. My phone is just not quick to take shots and keeping the fish still long enough to get the shot was tough. But you can still get a feel for the size of Dan’s fish when you look at it as we try to net it and when he is about to release the fish. Enjoy!
My friend Dan calls me and says he want to go fishing. I am always game for a quick trip. We start discussing the logistics of where to go and when, and he says that he really wants to hit up Pyramid Lake. Well, that is great for me as Pyramid is basically in my backyard (about a 40 minute drive) but Dan has to bang out about 4 hours of driving each way. So plans are confirmed and we both go into full prep mode. Dan’s job is to pack his stuff, put together a basic cooler of goodies and get over here the night before. My job is to hit the vice and fill some fly boxes.
After contacting a few fly shops and verifying which pattens are working at Pyramid, I get to work. I figure that I need to oversupply us by at least a dozen flies, if not more. My goal is to bang out 3 dozen flies just for this trip. This is of course on top of the 6 or 7 full fly boxes that I already have packed in my to-go bag for trips of all manners.
First order of business is to replenish the bugger barn. It has gotten a bit thin in the last few season and truth be told, buggers are something that I find difficult to tie. I would rather tie up 5 dozen Trudes in #12, #14 and #16 or 5 dozen Copper John’s in various sizes and colors than a few dozen buggers in #8 and #10. Go figure.
The first bugger is going to be a modified version of one of my favorite still water buggers, the Rickert’s Seal Bugger. After looking at the commercial flies for Pyramid, I figure that I need to shorten the tail and make the hackle quite a bit longer than normal. Most of the Pyramid buggers are well dressed. So I set to work and find that I have almost a dozen tied up pretty quick.
Next is to hit up the midges. Intel from the fly shop indicates that red and black (both basic midge colors) are the de facto standards, just in sizes #12 and #14 versus a more normal #16 or #18. The guy at the shop mentioned that the snow cone version has been pretty hot, but lacking any white beads and not wanting to make a trip to the fly shop for $2 in beads, I use white UV dubbing instead. a dozen red and a dozen black later I call that part of the project done.
Last is to tie up a dozen black buggers. As I rifle through the feather bins it becomes apparent that I am short on quality black feathers. I tied up one black bugger and took some pictures which I will show in another post. It was painfully obvious that the quality of the feathers are no where near as nice as what I used for the green buggers. Maybe I will get some white beads after all. Since I have to hit up the shop to replenish my tungsten coneheads and black bugger feathers I now have an excuse to make a single trip and restock in bulk. Hope that the fly shop has the good stuff!
The decision on where to head for a bit of birthday fishing came down to finding a spot on the Truckee that was not pumping, heading south to the Rosaschi or trying out something new like Pyramid Lake. I have been hearing good things about the fishing this season so Pyramid Lake wins the draw.
I headed to one of the local fly shops to gather some intel. The takeaway from the shop was a part of my conversation with one of the employees. I went like this –
shop: “What rod are you planning on taking to Pyramid?”
me: “My 5-wt”
shop: “um…what brand is your rod?”
me: “It’s a Sage XP. Why?”
shop: “Well, there is a good chance that you will break your 5-wt on the fish at Pyramid. Sage has a lifetime warranty so you should be fine. Do you own a heavier rod?”
I did pack my 8-wt based on this conversation and it turns out this was a very good move.
A short drive out this morning from my house, a quick stop at the tribal general store to purchase my daily permit and I was at the Lake and ready to…get blown all over the place. The winds were very brisk to say the least and were gusting up to the mid-thirties. That definitely did not stop the crowds from descending upon the Nets.
I snapped a full panorama of shots at the South Nets beach. What you see here is but one small section. Notice the “sticks” lined up in the water? Well those are the anglers. What you do not see in this shot is the fact that the line up continues for a quite a few more yards and that most of the cars were actually a bit higher up off the beach. This is the infamous “ladder” fishing of Pyramid Lake.
Despite the crazy winds and the intermittent rain squalls, I witnessed some of the anglers hooking up on fish. A good sign! So now it is time for me to hit the water and get serious.
I started driving along the shoreline. I had a tip from the fly shop employee, the same one that told me I needed to bring a bigger rod, so I headed in the direction he indicated. I must admit that he did not steer me wrong. When I arrived at the mentioned beach, it was vacant. Now if only that wind would go away.
The pre-fish drill, you know, the one that starts with stringing up the rod and ends with tying on the starting fly, a wooly bugger in this case, does nothing to excite me about tossing a big #8 Dennis Estrada bugger that I had in my bugger barn. It is wind like this that cause big flies to impale their casters. A short walk to the waters edge and I am stripping line and trying in vain to cast in the wind. Pretty futile efforts, despite the big rod.
After about 20 or so drifts, I decide that I am not made of whatever those other anglers sitting on ladders in water with 12-14″ white caps are made of and I call it quits.
My takeaway today is that Pyramid is a beautiful high desert lake and the Cutts in the Lake are big and healthy. I will be heading back in the next few weeks, just on a day when the weather reports shows the winds to be negligible.