Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pyramid Lake - January 24th 2016

Back on Sunday we kept the streak alive and hit Pyramid Lake again.  The creel station on the Pyramid Highway has been receiving good reports from the Nets so we figured we'd give the south beach a try.  End of January in to February is when the Nets beaches start to turn on, and this year is no different.  Brandon and Karen got out to the beach early ( I was stuck on chores all day) and it didn't take long for texts to start showing up with news of a hot bite.  All told I think they landed about 25 fish, stripping black buggers and white buggers was the claim to fame.  All those pics made it impossible for me to stay productive on chores so I loaded up and headed out for the evening bite.  It stayed consistent all afternoon until dark, adding another 6 landed and probably lost about twice that.  Slow to moderate retrieve, dragging black or white buggers on the bottom was the move. Beetles and boobies probably would have had the same results but it was one of those "if it ain't broke don't fix it" scenarios.  We didn't hawl in any giants but a grip of 24inch cuts with a few 5 or 6lb kickers is a tough thing to complain about.  

The other interesting thing was the weather or more specifically the pressure pattern.  We had a few Sundays in a row with the exact same pressure pattern (and very similar weather patterns) where Sunday was a day of rising pressure after a storm, the graph on Intellicast was almost identical but the bite was considerably different.  The wind direction was also different, almost directly out of the east, right in our face.  You always hear advice on pyramid to the tune of crappy weather makes for good fishing and focus on beaches with the wind in your face.  This sample isn't large enough to confirm it but we can certainly give some credence to the concept. 

This Sunday's forecast is calling for snow, winds to 10MPH out of the north west and steady low pressure for most of the day until around 4 or 5 when the pressure is predicted to start rising. Guess we'll just have to sacrifice another sunday on fishing, for science!

Here's one of our bounty, see if I can't find some of the other shots from the day too.

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 17th 2016

We didn't make a new year's resolution to fish at least once a week, so that's probably why we have been able to fish once a week for the entire year.  Granted, the entire year is only three weekends old but we're getting our fix.  New year's day we hit spider point on the north side (the part you have to trek a little way down the hill to get to) and found the bite to be pretty good considering it was about 15 degrees out with the wind chill at 2pm.  This beach is one of the steep ones that has a few spots that the shelf starts right at shore and drops deep quick.  We hit spider two Sundays in a row with completely different barometer patterns. It's no secret that Pyramid fishes better when the weather sucks but there's two sides to the shitty weather coin.  We've fished Pyramid with good results in rain and shine but the leading edge of a front when the pressure is dropping tends to give the most steady results over the course of a day, particularly if your hauling flies from a ladder. The tail edge of a low when the pressure is rising can shut things down hard.  On our first trip out with steady barometer we had some luck.  The following Sunday with a rising barometer we got skunked.  Also, this time of year (late Jan - Feb) is when I start to notice guys on ladders catching more fish than me when I'm in the pontoon and the favorable beach profile starts to shift from the deep shelf beaches to the more gradual shallow beaches.

This Sunday on the way out I dropped by the creel census station and the gal confirmed it, most of her reports were coming from guys on ladders at the Nets beaches but one report of a 25 lb at Dago.  A few of us started the day early at Dago / Howard bays with little or nothing to show for it.  I showed up later in the day and saw similar results from the row of guys on ladders with out rods bent.  To be fair, I only watched for about 10 minutes while trying to figure out where the crew had moved to.
Indian Head beach was the spot (contrary to the shallow beach theory) we hit from about 1pm to 4pm with the first hour proving to be pretty productive.  After that, it shut down, got windy and folks left to the point that we were the only guys left on the beach.  The wind showed us a little mercy and shifted out of the west making for easy long casts.  I should also note that while we had been experiencing some luck over the past three weekends I was laying an egg.  Three Sunday afternoon / evenings in a row and I'd managed zero fish to hand.  That's luck though and its still worth it to snap a pic of your buddies' fish.  At 4pm, after trying every retrieve variation at every foot of the water column I was down to dragging slow strips on the bottom with a purple Slump Buster I tied up that morning and bust my slump it did.  It's an occupying feeling, bouncing off the sand rifts on the bottom.  You know its not a strike but the minor stimulus is enough.  Strip, strip, bounce, bounce, here comes the shelf - the bounces are becoming a solid drag, thud - there's the shelf.  Strip, strip, OHHP! There he is!  Both halves of your brain agree to set the hook, then the reasonable half feels the dead weight and calls it a snag.  The optimistic half, still high off of the tug, remembers the feeling of a strike and refuses to believe its the bottom. Then both halves watch that full-rod twitch under the stress of a head shake that clears up any doubt of it being a snag.  Then you realized he's either got a real good hold of the bottom or this might be the one you've been waiting for.  Living through it in your mind on every cast so far this season.
My ladder was right at the shelf so there was only 20 feet between my bounty and I, then he showed himself and I lost 30 years of experience in one still frame of how big he was 10 feet below the surface.  Kellen was 100 yards down the beach so I whistled to signal for some assistance and it came out like a wet fart, followed by two more that weren't going to get anyone's attention that wasn't standing on my ladder.  Luckily Kellen's old man noticed my rod bent and they both came to check it out.  They didn't need to run, that 20 feet of separation became 10 feet, then 100 and the cycle repeats for 10 minutes.  A few arm changes later and an equal quantity of praise for Rio 10 lb test leader and we had him in the net.  Ever since learning about and following Landon Mayer, I've carried a net that makes people think I catch big fish like he does.. suckers.  I wondered if I'd ever see the day that net met its match.

He went 33 inches on a quick tape, a couple pics and then back down the shelf to prepare for his next photo opp with the next lucky cad that he gets to turn into a quivering mass who forgets everything he's learned over the decades.  Hell of a thing, that.  Hell of a thing...

An item of note, the gal at the census station noticed the color of the algae covered tag - bright green under all that scum - which put that fish as part of the 2010 - 2011 stocking effort. Now I don't know exactly how old they are when they release these fish but that guy has only been doing his thing in Pyramid lake for 5-6 years.  He's at least keeping up with my 5 year old daughter, made the same face in a picture too and didn't ask to play on my phone.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Busy and Lazy 12/26/2015

The last couple of months have been busy but we were able to make it out to the lake a few times since our last post.  the trips didn't produce anything note worthy so a post didn't find its way up.  Now that we have found our selves in a nice weather pattern the river has come up and its time to get back in to it.  Fly fishing the Truckee river east of Reno during the winter time is one of my favorite ways to use a weekend afternoon.  Sleep in, get a couple chores done then suit up and head out around 10am.  From my experience the best time to fish the Truckee during winter conditions tends to be 11am - 2pm during a stable weather pattern.  The pay off can be great.  I can't think of too many times when we've gone out and absolutely slayed em but the size of the fish is generally much better.  I was listening to the Reno Fly Shop's pod cast talking to Gilligan and he summed it up pretty well - big fish have to eat even when it's cold and they gotta do it every day.  Smaller fish just don't need to eat near as much and that's why you'll catch fewer fish in the cold months but they'll be bigger.

My wife kicked me down a waterproof GoPro for X-mas this year and with any luck I'll get it wet tomorrow afternoon.  Not sure what water clarity is like right now since the flows have jumped all the way up to 500 CFS at the Vista gage and are now back down around 200.  We'll let ya know what we see.


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!