Prime time fishing at Pyramid Lake |

Prime time fishing at Pyramid Lake

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

We are less than 30 days away from winter and many of the fair weather fisheries are tailing off.

For the dedicated angler, there are two high desert lakes that are fishing very well right now, Pyramid Lake, Nev., and Eagle Lake, Calif.

Pyramid sits on the Paiute Indian Reservation 45 minutes northeast of Sparks; it is the terminus of the Truckee River. The original trout in the Truckee River from Pyramid to Tahoe was the cutthroat.

This original species attained weights of up to 40 pounds. Due to dams on the lower river, commercial fishing and competition from introduced trout species, the original cutthroat was lost by the 1940s.

A different subspecies, the Summit cutthroat, was introduced to Pyramid later in the last century. It provided a good fishery but the fish never attained the proportions of the original.

Some of the original cutthroats were located in Pilot Peak Creek in eastern Nevada and reintroduced into Pyramid Lake. These Pilot Peak strain fish are now maturing and the fishing at Pyramid Lake continues to get better.

The trout season at Pyramid opens Oct. 1 each year and continues through May.

When the Summit cutthroats dominated the lake, a fish in the 15-pound class was a rare trophy. Landing a trout in the 5-pound class was a good catch.

When compared to other trout fisheries, these were large fish. What most Pyramid anglers would not discuss was the mediocre fighting ability of these trout. Pound for pound, they were not the equal of wild browns or rainbows.

Pyramid trout were a good photo opportunity and the fishing was good through the winter months when other waters are closed, but they were not “hot fish” for their size.

The resurgence of the Pilot Peak cutthroats is a dream come true. Each season these fish continue to get bigger and more plentiful.

This season there have been three fish weighed in at Crosby’s Lodge at more than 20 pounds.

If a trout is not more than 10 pounds, it is no longer noteworthy. But possibly the best feature of these fish is that they “pull hard.” Reports from anglers say that hooking one of these fish does not necessarily translate into landing it. They truly are a great fight.

At the start of the season in October, the surface temps are warm and the best fishing is deep. As the lake cools, the trout move up the water column and shore anglers have as good a shot as those in boats.

In the coldest months, when the lake can drop into the high 30s, the fish migrate to the warmer spring-fed areas at the north end of the lake. This area is closed to fishing.

Currently the water is 53 degrees. A report from last week indicated that this surface temp extends down to 50 feet. These are prime conditions and the fishing is excellent. If we get some major storms and resulting cold temps, these water conditions will rapidly drop off. The prime window of opportunity is now.

Pyramid is close enough to be a day trip. Before you go, check in with the Crosby Lodge website ( for more detailed information.

The other fishery that is currently peaking is Eagle Lake north of Susanville. A few weeks back, all of the trout were out over deep water. The food source was out there and so were the fish. In the past two weeks, all that has changed and the shore fishing has taken off. This seasonal change is a bit late in arriving.

Brian Roccucci ( recently returned from a 10-day guiding stint at Eagle. He did well trolling for trout from his boat. But his best trips were guiding a group of fly fishermen.

He moved them to various shore locations with his boat, and they fished by wading the shallows. He reports times when they were hooking up a fish per cast.

They concentrated on rocky structure in water one- to eight-feet deep. The trout were in the shallows feeding heavily under overcast skies. The hot flies were Jay Fair Wiggle Tails in shades of brown to orange.

Now that the fish are along the shore in good numbers, bank angling can be as good as boating.

At the end of this holiday weekend, the dock will be pulled from the only launch ramp.

This will make putting larger boats in difficult due to low water levels. For more technical current fishing conditions, visit

Both of these desert lakes are known for their cold air temps and cutting winds when the fishing is good. Watch the weather and bring appropriate clothing, and you can enjoy excellent angling.

Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at

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