World-class fishery at Pyramid Lake

We are only a short time away from the Oct. 1 opening day at Pyramid Lake for the 2016-17 season. The season runs through June 30. Pyramid Lake is a world-class fishery, practically, in our back yard. Located 35 miles north of Reno, Pyramid Lake is in the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. At 125,000 acres, it is the largest remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan, a vast inland ocean that covered most of Nevada and parts of northern California.


Truckee angler Bob Jajko with a typical catch at Pyramid. | Bruce Ajari

It is home to the largest Lahontan cutthroat trout, Nevada’s state fish, in the world. Fish in excess of 40 pounds were said to have once existed in the lake, however, it was driven to near extinction after Derby Dam was put in place in 1905. The dam did not allow passage of the trout to their historical spawning grounds thus killing them off by 1943.

In 1949, stocking began. Many different strains of the fish were re-introduced into the lake, but the two most recognized are the Summit and Pilot Peak strains.

In the 1970s, the fish was recognized as a threatened species and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service became involved with its reintroduction as a native species. As a result, the search for a strain of fish most closely representing the original strain in the lake was undertaken.


“Ten pounds was once a trophy threshold for angling,
but now fish that size are becoming quite common
and fish exceeding 20 pounds are being caught.”


DNA taken from original fish samples were compared to existing ones by University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of biology Mary Peacock, PhD. From these studies it was determined that the Pilot Peak strain of fish was the most comparable to the original Lahontan cutthroat trout that once inhabited the lake.

As a result of the fishes’ reintroduction, we are now seeing a tremendous spike in the size of the fish caught by anglers. Ten pounds was once a trophy threshold for angling, but now fish that size are becoming quite common and fish exceeding 20 pounds are being caught.

Tribal permits are required to fish the lake. For a day, a fishing permit will cost $11 this season. A season-long permit will cost $88; age 65 and older receive a 10 percent senior discount.

Only artificial lures with single barbless hooks are allowed. No bait is permitted. Fish may be kept with a limit of two per day, one 17 to 20 inches and one more than 24 inches or two 17 to 20 inches long.

This season promises to be another stellar one with thoughts that the sizes of the fish are continuing to rise. Soon 30 pound could conceivably be caught in the lake. Anglers from all over the world are taking notice and will be coming to fish this great lake.

For more information on boating, camping or other fees, call (775) 574-1000 or visit




Boca Reservoir
Inflow is at 30 cfs and the outflow is 16 cfs. Powerbait, nightcrawlers and lures are all working. Fly-fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet with nymphs, streamers and dries.

Donner Lake
Fishing has been fair to good. Kokanee fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait for trout. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe
Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore fishermen use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River
The flow is at 30 cfs. This is really too low to fish; it is best to avoid this water.

Martis Lake
Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is the best in the fall. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir
Fishing has been fair. The lake level is rapidly dropping. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing has been fair.

Stampede Reservoir
Fishing has been pretty slow. There are still not many reports from this water. Nightcrawlers, Powerbait and lures have all produced from shore. Fly-fishers have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers. The Kokanee fishing has been poor. Smallmouth bass fishing has been fair to good.

Truckee River
It is not flowing out of the lake at Tahoe City. The flows through Truckee are at 161 cfs. Cooler night temperatures are starting to cool the river down. Crayfish and small mayflies along with streamers are your best bet. Some caddis still around, too. Hoppers are still an option with a dropper. Best flows for fishing are below Boca. This water is special regulation, artificial only, with barbless hook. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged in this section, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches.

Davis and Frenchman lakes
They are beginning to show signs of life as the water cools. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching a few fish. Reports typically show improvement after Labor Day.


Bruce Ajari

Bruce Ajari is a long-time area fly-fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.