Monday, October 12, 2015

Pyramid Lake - 10/10/2015

This weekend had already been claimed by chores but we were able to make it out for a couple of hours on Saturday morning.  Indian Head beach fished from shore didn't produce anything for us or many folks who where there.  I fished Pelican Point again from the pontoon and was met with similar results.  Only one missed take plus a loan follower that didn't strike.  Pelican was way less busy compared to last week.  One of the boats out there jigging last week returned and they looked like they were still heading for an easy 50+ fish day but not quite as insane as the bite was for them last weekend.  From what I could hear, fish were deeper in the water column than they were last week as well - about 70 to 80 feet though the occasional cruiser could be seen at the surface. 

Weather reports show a system moving through the area next weekend (10/17 - 10/18) with Saturday shaping up to be the day you'd want to target for best results.   After this weekend, temps are forecast to continue on in the 70's with lows in the 40's.  With any luck fish may start to live a little shallower and make for more action. 

The challenge for next weekend is going to be fine tuning a fly rod jigging maneuver.  See if we can innovate beyond vertical fishing a balanced leach, but if that's working, no need to reinvent the wheel.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A buck a suck(er) and a new place to park my truck

Its not the punch line to a joke, but more or less a sum of the summer.  With the Truckee river being so low, I had a hard time even looking over the bridge on east McCarran every morning on my way to work let alone bringing myself to fish it.  On top of that, most of us got an itch to improve our dwelling situations and moved to new houses, work was busy and there were too many chores to keep on top of.  Save for a couple outings in early summer, we kept our noses to the grindstone all summer long.  One such outing, I took the fam up to Lake Davis in July.  Family camping was my cover for experiencing the hex hatch that I've heard a lot about but never fished.  If you've never fished the hex hatch at Davis, keep your eyes on the reports around the June/July timeframe because that 30 minute happening is well worth the 45 minute drive from Reno. 
The fish surface so often they leave a trail of rise forms on the surface and you feverishly try to put your fly in line to be the next one they take.  I failed to make the cut that night but it was a blast none the less.

Next, as we indicated in our last post back in April, we were going to try fly fishing for carp this summer.  We are fortunate enough to know a local gent and a fella I am proud to call a friend who took us out to learn carp on the fly.  If you're a fan of spot and stalk hunting like I am, fly fishing for carp is a fantastic way to spend an entire summer day. Beyond that, there are probably carp in just about every body of water meandering through the Truckee Meadows.  It's less about a flawless presentation with the right pattern and more about stealth, aim, sight and strong leader. 
We met our buddy at one of the many ponds around the area along the Steam Boat watershed, if that's a thing, and got a little how-to on fly fishing for carp.  Great thing about carp fishing (as I have mentioned about other favored activities) is a lack of early rise requirements.  We started fishing at about 9:30am and things didn't start to pick up until about 10:30 or so.  Once it did it was action for the rest of the day.  Carp are big, and they like to feed in slow shallow water.  They are obvious animals, you can tell when they are feeding and you know when you've blown your chance because they vanish behind a plume of silt.  Carp have a reputation for being ugly dumb fish, and while there is little benefit to arguing for their good looks they are extremely far from dumb.  As I understand it, they have one of the longest "negative stimulus retention" characteristics in the fish world which in layman terms means a carp never forgets which.. in real world terms means they have a serious case of PTSD and its triggered by just about anything.  They are spooky, they see you when you think you're being sneaky, and they smell't it before you dealt it.  If you get the spot right and keep a low profile your next task is to place your fly in their feeding path.  Its a blast when you put your fly in the right spot and watch them slowly feed toward it, then they stop, angle down with tail breaking the surface.  He's gumming your rig and now's the time to set it and hold on.  With the popularity of fly fishing for carp has come many new clich├ęs like "golden bones" and "poor man's bone fish".  While I cannot personally vouch for the experience of bone fishing I have the intertubes and a TV and it certainly seems to measure up.  Carp seem to have an affinity for your backing and they will gladly expose it on the regular.  They've got shoulders and can probably bench more than me.  The tug is the drug and its a high that's hard to come off of.

Next came August and a period of more chores, paper work, interest rates and preparation than I care to live through again, but not before the big game archery hunt.  This year (my 8th consecutive archery hunt wherein I was determined to notch my first archery kill) my buddy Tom and I headed back to the Santa Rosa Mountains north of Winnemucca.  We've got to know the Santa Rosas pretty well over the past decade and headed to an area we knew held animals, was rugged enough to keep the road hunters at bay (which aren't much of an issue during archery season) and has given us opportunities in the past.  Long story short, we won that day and I put a stick through a Nevada Mule Deer that I will never forget.  Be that as it may, I will never remember the 10 seconds that followed after I watched my arrow disappear into that buck.  After a 50 yard blood trail we found our harvest expired in a bitter brush grave 8,300 feet above the mean elevation of the sea.  I remember thinking that I've not put eight years of unsuccessful trying into anything else, put a check in that box.

Now the move is complete, and half of our shit is unpacked - the important shit like rods, reels, pontoon mounted to the ceiling, hobby garage set up, fly tying desk no longer relegated to a heap of disarray in the garage.  Time to focus because October one is just two days away and if this year is anything like last year, Pyramid lake has a few chapters ready for us to jot down in our own personal history books.  Come last Thursday, Brandon and Steve headed out for the opener.  The weather favored our efforts and gave way to some much appreciated precipitation and cooler temps.  The gents put up with the Indian Head beach club scene and had a decent day on Friday from shore.  Friday night I tied up some chub patterns and went to bed late, unable to sleep and half tempted to hop in my truck and drive out there at midnight.  Instead I settled into bed and searched for any possible early reports from the local guys but as I figured, they were probably still busy at the lake gaining more material for the mid-week post.  If you've spent anytime looking up Pyramid Lake fishing reports you've probably noticed that there aren't many official web sites with any information newer than 2011.  Most of the valuable info comes from our local guides who do a terrific job but one day into the season that's probably a bit much to ask for. I happened across the Crosby's House of Class (lodge) web site which had actually posted some good info in their big fish log.  From the data, it appeared that the stretch between Spider and Pelican was of particularly high production.  That did it for me, phone off, time for sleep because tomorrow I'm going to give Pelican point a try. And I am glad I did.  While I was only met with three fish to hand, their average size was big.  I'm calling the three I caught 5, 6 and 10 lbs.  My own success was far outshined by the success of boaters jigging.  I sat in my pontoon in a sea of opening weekend boaters continually pulling 10+ lb fish up.  An hour into the morning, 10 lb cutts didn't even warrant a picture.  I must have seen 50 fish get caught between 10 and 12 lbs and the best part of it is just about everyone of them didn't leave the water for more than a few seconds before they went back to their deep-water hangout.  It was remarkable.  I have never had such a good time watching complete strangers work into aching shoulders while I was unable to hook up.  Even fishing at the right depth ( 60ft down in 100ft of water as I over heard a few boats say) I couldn't mimic the presentation on my fly rod that the fish wanted.  After a couple hours of trying, I decided to go find some chub clouds and try the strategy that has worked in the past.  No sooner than I found the first cloud I brought the first one in.  All told, chasing chub was the most reliable way to get bit on a fly rig for me that day.  Shoot your chub pattern past the school, let it sink below them then fast strips back to the boat.  Half-way to the back of Windless I found a cloud of chub that was getting terrorized by a big Summit slashing his way through the middle of the school with his maw gaping wide enough that I could see the white of his throat.  It felt like what I imagine chasing <insert salt water species here> in the flats would be like.  A fair cast beyond the school sent my 8wt double over for a 5 minute trout ride that ended with that same gaping maw in my net.  For now I'm calling him a 10 but some of that mass has probably been shit out by now because his gut was full.  It's amazing how much those pigs love to eat.  Lucky us!  Here's to a long summer, a new season and hopefully, el nino!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pyramid Lake April 11th / 18th

The past couple of weekends we've done the Pyramid routine with everyone else.  By and large its been slow due to the really nice weather with most of the activity coming in the first hour of the day and then again around maybe five or six in the evening.  The fish are still in shallow cruising in sight of the ladders ( and well behind too) so they'll keep you interested.  Day by day the tactic or color of choice seems to change but the trusty blacks and whites seem to be what you'll hear most guys mentioning being the dish on buggers and beetles while Mahalo Nymps and any variety of size 12 midge (primarily reds) seem to be keeping pace under indicator.  Last weekend was a bit different, there was a period between about 10 and noon when it was on fire.  There was a gent next to us who spent a solid hour catching fish on literally every cast soaking nymphs.  It was almost enough to just watch him like a TV show.

Haven't hit the river in a while but reports have been good.  I did notice from the USGS flow charts that the Truckee River dipped down to 46 CFS (At Reno Marker) at 11:30 this past Friday (4/17) which is a number I've not seen on the Truckee as long as I've been paying attention and according to the USGS page, may actually be the lowest in that gauges history.  Hard to believe that because I seem to remember a period back in the 80s where the river was damn near dry over by Galletti way.  I could be wrong though, it probably wasn't the 80s even, my memory sucks and I was young. 

Regardless, the river is back up to about 140CFS now and fished good for the kids on sunday evening, though we were only targeting largemouth bass in slow back water east of town.  I think this summer we'll all have to learn how to target carp with a fly.  Something I didn't think I would ever do on purpose, but after doing a little reading sounds fun.  Might even have to use a bow to do it once or twice.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pyramid Lake - February 22nd 2015

This past weekend out at Pyramid was the type of outing that you hear about all time but folks often avoid because of the wind.  Most of the avid Pyramid guys know that when the weather sucks, there is a good chance the lake has some good things in store for those willing to brave it.  Crappy weather at Pyramid is like Antelope hunting, you don't have to wake up at 3am and get in place before the sun comes up and you can find what your looking for all day long.

We didn't get on the water til about 10 am, starting at Pelican just to try a beach that I rarely hit while the others hit the South Nets beach.  The wind was already blowing and the bay at Pelican had a muddy water line out to about a hundred feet off shore.  The bay it self was relatively calm so I paddled my pontoon out to the northern point and hit the rough water.  Stripping a chub pattern trailing a white beetle produced a nice 6lb native Summit cutt on the first pass but text messages from Brandon and Steve at South Nets had me itching to move.  An hour of no more action sent me on the move to join the guys. 

The report from the Nets had only about 20 guys fishing but everyone seemed to be hooking up with plenty of big fish being caught and released.  Brandon pulled in a nice 31 inch cutt and we actually managed to get some decent pics of it.  Through out the remainder of the day til sun-down I was frustratingly skunked on the pontoon while gents casting from ladders seemed to be catching fish at a good clip all day.  Most of them looked to be stripping buggers and beetles.  The water was extremely rough, to the point that I almost thought better of being out there but I've got a life jacket, a safety line tied to the pontoon and I'm only a few yards from the shelf.
The guys on ladders looked to have it way worse.  While I was enjoying the roller coaster ride on the pontoon, they had to brave continual Pyramid Lake water boarding and winds from the east blowing directly in their face.

At the end of the day, a fella hooked up and braved the 75 yard walk through the horrendous breakers back to the shore line to land a monster.  From my vantage, I'd guess that pig weighed in at 20+ and like all good boys and girls he let er go for one us to catch another day.  In trying to get close enough to see but still avoid the breakers I hooked up with a good tugger and had to do a SEAL beach insertion to get back to shore and land the thing.  All told the fish might have tipped the scales at 5lbs but the pontoon surfing fish fight experience was the real trophy.   That fish also highlighted the draw backs of fishing from the pontoon.  When fish are in shallow, the ladder guys get all the love while you watch from a distance wishing you were an asshole willing to drift closer to shore and fish the same water.

When the sun went down, it was a day well worth spending out at the lake, regardless of the wind chapped face and wave motion that lingered 45 minutes after getting off the water.  If you too would like the confidence of fishing the big water when the wind blows, visit your local Marine Corps recruiter, or go buy your self a pair of camo pants, a paint ball gun and start watching prepper reality
TV.  A word of caution though, the latter option will not actually make you any safer but you'll think so and that's probably worth something!  Semper Fi.

Looking to this weekend, another system is slated to start blowing through on Friday the 27th lingering through the weekend.  If had the free time, I'd try to be on the water this evening, tomorrow and Saturday.  Sunday will likely be the back-side of the low but that's the day I'll be able to make it out so with any luck, the system will blow through quickly, or slowly putting Sunday in the midst of the low pressure or on the safe side of the backend.  Another system is in line for early next week as well.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pyramid Lake - President's Day Weekend - February 2015

If you were looking for a day of amazing weather and a record flat Pyramid Lake, this was the weekend to be on the water.  On Saturday I went out solo to hit the North Nets again and dropped by the census station to see if they had any good reports. Generally speaking, no one was reporting a whole lot of activity on any of the beaches aside from one report that did have a hell of an active morning coming from South Nets but they were the only ones who kicked any sort ass according to the census.  I ignored the report and carried on to North Nets because that's where my brain wanted to go.  I was on the water in my pontoon at about 1:30 and man, it was flat.  I didn't feel a breath of wind until about 6 when I was getting off the water and temps were starting to cool off.  

Neither myself nor anyone that I could see was doing any good until about an hour before dark at 5pm-ish.  Between 5 and 5:30 I hooked up once and I noticed two other heads stripping buggers from ladders haul one in and very little activity beyond that.  The moon phase is right but the weather is just too nice to provide wide-spread success.  While the bite was slow, my fish at 5:30 hit the tape at about 29 inches making it my first (probable) 10 pounder out of pyramid after 30 years of casting.  It was a terrific way to end the day.  The cell phone pics I took out in the pontoon only haunt me because they are so bad, blurry and make me wonder if I miss measured the length so I won't even post em! It was a heavy fish though and one I'll never forget even though the fight was pretty wimpy - but 11 lb test tippet on an 8wt fast action rod does tend to tame the beast a bit.

Over to Sunday, a couple of buddies fished the South Nets and had an 8 fish morning while another group of buddies fished Indian Head Saturday night and Sunday morning resulting in a one fish trip.


1. Don't go to South Nets, I'll be there holdin it down for you this coming Sunday.  Instead, go to North Nets and make sure the bite still sucks.  Take one for the team.
2. Early, late, don't get your hopes up but the fish may smile yet upon you.  Mid-day, take a nap.
3. My sample size wasn't huge but 100% of the fish I caught late in the day dragging big marabou streamers on the bottom were 10 pounders.  All one of em.
4. Again, sample size not factored, 100% of the fish caught were not on the standard midnight cowboy trailing a beetle but on size 4 chub pattern streamers employing a healthy serving of marabou and bunny strips as seen here.  I also kept with the spinner blade addition mentioned in our post from last week.
5.  I didn't mention it in the body of the post, but I did see a couple of random cruisers in about 10 feet of water mid day and one of them was the largest non-mammal sea creature I have ever seen in the wild.  The mid-day cruisers were probably a sign of the random nature of the feeding pattern throughout the course of the weekend.  Fish are in and out all day long but the more reliable activity is early and late in the day.

As a final note, I paid a visit to the Truckee River near Spice Island on Sunday afternoon just to check conditions.   At the time, the water was still a bit off color but flows returning to the pre-flush levels.  Reno marker showing 390 CFS as of the time of this writing.   Check the Flows Page for current conditions.   Stained, higher flows are great conditions for swinging streamers through current.