Big Cutthroat at Pyramid Lake

The salinity of Pyramid Lake (approximately 1/6th that of sea water) is what Lahontan Cutthroat Trout evolved to thrive in and the water that can produce trophy-size fish exceeding 20 pounds. It’s the size and number of fish produced by one of the west’s largest lakes that draws anglers from across the nation to the deserts of Nevada.

According to pro angler Denis Isbister of Wild Fish Wild Places TV fame, a regular at Pyramid Lake, what’s producing fish this season is a little different than in years past due to the record snow pack and turbid water entering the lake via the Truckee River. “Not only has the lake level risen 10 feet, with more water on the way, but the clarity has shrunk from the lake’s normal 16-to-18 foot of visibility to 3 or 4 feet. The more turbid water has caused us to change things up a bit when trolling. To help draw fish into our gear we’ve added lake trolls inline ahead of our plugs and switched from the normal frog and pearl FlatFish colors to chartreuse and fire tiger paint patterns. Adding the flash and vibration of a Rooster Troll 48 inches ahead of more visible plug colors is what turned slow fishing into hot fishing for us on recent trips,” Denis said.

Based on my interview with Denis, where most of the spring trolling action occurs this time of year is along the north side of the lake. “These post-spawn fish have now moved away from the shoreline and are foraging near or above submerged rock ledges in water depths ranging from 8-to-40 foot of water. That is where we are finding the most consistent action. For example, during our latest adventure we found fish 12 feet from the surface over 35 foot of water. We just troll parallel to the shoreline trying to jig-zag over the underwater ledge structure while keeping our troll speed at a 1.5 mile an hour,” Denis shared.

And while the above troll strategy is what’s now working for anglers like Isbister what produces best will likely change as the water temperature climbs to 67 degrees and above. As the waters warm the fish show a preference toward lures trolled at faster speeds of 2.5 to 2.8 MPH, which is when Denis will switch from plugs like the U-20 FlatFish (standard and jointed models) that produce fast action at slow troll speed to those like Mag Lip capable of handling more throttle. Given the largest snow pack in 100 years melting into the lake it’s hard to say when the water will warm, but Denis believes the more aggressive trolling approach will begin to happen before the lake closes to sport fishing at the end of June. And while the sport angling will be off limits during the heat of summer, the fast fish-catching-action will resume with the fall opener scheduled to begin on Pyramid Lake the first day of October.