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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pyramid Lake - Sunday February 8th 2015

Seeing as the river was blown out, and I was feeling like a good float I followed Thomas' lead and hit Pyramid Lake yesterday.  Lots of local reports indicating the late bite is as good as if not better than the early bite, so I elected to spare my sleep and end the day on the water.  I pulled up to North Nets beach at about 2pm and it was hip to hip like an ocean pier.  As I drove up the beach to the north end there was a point where the guys on ladders where almost doing the wave, setting hooks as I drove by, had to be a good sign. I parked at the end of the line and got my self rigged up on the pontoon.   Getting set up was uncommonly anxious, one fella hauled in a good 10lb cutt and a handful of other guys pulled in fish too.

I was trying something new on Sunday, pulling a page from the Pacific salmon folks who you'll see on TV fishing a fly rod but using heavy trolling tackle.  I had it scaled down a bit to the standard bugger lead trailing a beetle but above the bugger I added a couple beads, clevis with willow leaf spinner blade and then a couple more beads.   Being on the toon boat I wasn't worried about trying to cast the added weight but after fishing it all day, casting the rig wasn't overly unwieldy.  Add some wind and I might sing a different tune thought.

The rig's trial run started out silly, pulling the first fish in as I was stripping my line out.  I hadn't even eclipsed the line of ladders with my stack.   A float to the south end and back over the course of an hour didn't produce any more action so I went to the north point of the beach where there wasn't anyone fishing so I could get in some shallower water and not piss off anyone stuck on a ladder.  Floating parallel to the beach in a water that would be reachable by ladder was the ticket, boating two more fish, losing another and few strikes that didn't hook up.

By 6pm it was past legal light so I headed back to the beach and drove home.  The rain was so torrential it was a tough drive, literally terrifying.  It rained the whole time on the water too with perfect wind, couldn't ask for better Pyramid Lake fishing weather.

Key points:
  • I don't know if the spinner blade rig vastly improved the activity but it certainly didn't hurt and casting it from a ladder wouldn't likely be the hardest thing you'll do.  After all, your already standing on a ladder in four feet of water whipping a stack of hooks around your head, just add a toaster and it'll make the dangerous jobs list.
  • Big fish were getting caught, I was just hooking up with the average broads a-plenty.
  • The afternoon bite and extra sleep were worth the wait.  The weather was perfect for fishing at Pyramid, bad for sun bathing or being warm.  I'd take the fishing weather any day though.
  • The river peaked at about 2000CFS earlier today, suffice to say there will be a lot of extra food in there but the fishing will be tough for a minute.  All of that water was after they cut the flows out of Boca so pat yourself on the back , Pacific Ocean, you may have saved the Truckee River from turning in to a cobblestone walking path this summer.  Forecasts are calling for temps around 60 with little to no wind so the morning / afternoon sessions out at Pyramid may be your best bet until the chocolate fondue that is the Truckee River returns to water mode.  

Pyramid - February 7, 2015

I've been out a few times this year, but haven't had the heart to post. My first 2 trips to Pyramid before Christmas produced more frustration than fish, and forced me to break down and upgrade my rod to a more sturdy 8 weight from the 6 weight I had been fishing for years. 3 fish broke me off in one day, and I said "screw it, it's time for new gear." Lucky for me, Cabelas had some great deals after Christmas (although stock was limited), so I picked up one of their Stowaway rods in the 6 piece variety. It's a very fast action rod, and stiff due to the 6 piece construction, which is perfect for me. If you're into a rod with a bit more wiggle, I wouldn't suggest it, but having a rod like this in windy conditions is fantastic!

My buddy and I got out to the lake around 7 am and the winds were "variable" but definitely not light. I managed to wing myself a couple of times, and broke a few flies off due to the wind playing havoc with my line, but once I got the swing of things, it got better. Any time you're shooting line to the backing in windy conditions is a good day at Pyramid.

We hit Wino the whole morning, and the beach was a bit busy. A lot of fly throwers on ladders, and fish were being caught by many of them. I had a few hits before 10:30, throwing a Ghost White Loco Beetle with a Midnight Cowboy trailing. The first fish I hooked must not have set well because he fought me for a minute and spit my flies out. I didn't get a good look at him, but he put up a decent fight which surprised me with the cold water. After 10:30 the wind really picked up, which actually increased the fish activity. I had a few more hits before I finally landed a decent fish on my new rod. I made sure to set the hook really well this time around.

All in all, only one fish to hand, but still a great day on the lake. White seems to be a pretty hot color right now, and the loco beetle as your lead fly seems to be great technique. Medium to fast retrieves with a lot of jerky motion on the flies also seems to be driving the fish crazy. I had a couple of fish follow my flies up past the drop-off and take one look at me and bolt.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

She's a Hot Mess

Last I checked the river was up about 330cfs, topping out around the 550 mark up at the Reno marker.  Down here in sparks the river is chocolate milk!  Some of the most gratifying fish I've caught have come out of similar conditions but thats because the bite is so damn tough.  The gents over at Reno Fly put out a news letter yesterday confirming good activity out at Pyramid particularly in the afternoon's.  I think we'll go check er out.

Monday, February 2, 2015

East Truckee River - Saturday January 31st

We had Super Bowl Sunday plans this weekend so made our trip out to the Truckee river east of town on Saturday.  We got on the water at about 11:30.  Up to that point and continuing on to this moment, the river has been steady right around 200CFS at the Reno marker.  Most of the action came in the first 30 minutes of the day with Brandon edging the success in his favor on a 22in Brown.  We didn't get a tape or a picture so, we're at liberty to say he might have been 15lbs, we'll just never know for sure.  Back in reality land, I was fortunate enough to pull a nice 16-17 inch bow in and snap off some proof for the fish porn at the bottom of the post.

Later in the day there was some isolated top water activity.  The activity was limited to about one fish in any given section of the river but that one fish was steadily feeding on the surface.  Since BWOs were the prevailing hatch (and pretty legit) I threw some BWO dries and only managed to miss a few takes.  Missing top water fish during the winter time is enough to put a smile on your face, irrespective of how not-wintery it may be right now.

Key take-aways from the afternoon
  • With the weather pattern holding so steady lately on higher day-time temps, the bite seems to be best earlier and later in the day.  It's not the extreme like you'll see in the summer but the activity was noticeably better before noon, and then again around 3pm. 
  • BWO nymphs down on the bottom in slow(er) water were the primary producer around size 16 to 18.  Two weeks in a row I've pulled in fish on that flashy BWO pattern so I'll have to give er a name and post some tying instructions in our flies section.   
  • The fish have seemingly moved in to some (comparatively) quicker water but can still be found in the slow stuff.
  • Surface feeding was far more noticeable this weekend and the BWOs were out in force from about 12:30 to 3pm.