Take me to the Pilots

“Pilots” – the largest growing trout native to North America also known as the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout once thought extinct but resurrected in the last decade. In 1995 a genetic reservoir of the Lahontan Cutthroat was discovered near Pilot Peak Utah. Known as “Pilots”, monster catches in the last couple years point to the unprecedented success of this project. Fish greater than 20 lbs have become relatively common.

This, my second trip targeting the Pilot strain Lahontan Cutthroats, was more than memorable. I met up with my cousin Wayne, Jerry Wang and Benson Kanamoto. As fishing friends go, I consider these three guys my closest fishing buddies with many trips spanning over 50 years together all over the world. Benson and Wayne have fished the Pilots for the last 10 years almost 20 days a year each. Jerry and I not so much, are still learning the subtleties of fishing the lake.

Fishing next to Wayne and Benson forces you to be on your “A” game. If I can catch fish at half the rate as they do, Im having a great day. Watching how they fish has taught me more about Pyramid Lake fishing than any book , blog or guide could ever teach me.

I left for the Lake at 1:00 Wednesday after seeing patients. The five hour drive from San Jose didn’t seem that long and I was pumped to get back to the lake and catch more and bigger fish than 4 weeks ago. With the last couple years of cancelled international travel, Pyramid lake is the place to drive and catch gigantic trout. Wednesday evening was pretty fun. There were no crowds on Pelican Beach and I easily caught a dozen fish before dark after setting up camp. Cooking on a camp stove and eating in front of a fire is good for the soul. Sleeping in my truck top hard shell tent was very comfortable especially using my backup ladder to get in and out. My newly engineered fishing ladder worked great in the Stand up configuration and I got my gear all ready to get out on the beach at 4:45 to setup my ladder in the best spot. I fell asleep around 9:00 AM only to be awakened by a bunch of fireworks over the lake. Apparently the Natives sell them at the Marina and advertise them by setting them off at the campground. We had fireworks all three nights I was there.

At 4:30 AM Thursday, I was nearly the only one putting out a ladder. By 5:00am, I was the one of 5 people fishing the entire beach. The morning session was good with about 10 fish by 9:00 but the time between 9:00-1:00 is when I landed the biggest fish of the trip.  In three casts I hooked and landed a 12 and a 14.   I think the big pilots move in feeding schools and when you get lucky enough to get any fly in front of them as the school swims by,  you’ve got a big one.  A large C130 buzzed my ladder almost knocking me off reminding me that the Top Gun School is around the mountain in Fallon Nevada.    Wayne, Benson and Jerry arrived at near 3:00 in the afternoon and we fished the evening together. Fishing was pretty good for all of us on Thursday. In total, over 50 fish landed between the 4 of us.

On Friday, Jerry, Benson and Wayne had stellar days while I had the worst day on Pyramid ever. Again between the 4 of us, over 50 fish were caught but only 2 of them were mine. This happens sometimes when Im fishing right next to great fishermen. I go blank even when I rig up the same and copy them strip for strip. I actually found the day very interesting even though frustrating. Wayne, Jerry and Benson spent half the day fishing Chironomids off the Rocks at Pelican while I kept looking for that double digit fish casting and stripping B&Bs on the Beach (Blobs and Beetles). The Chironomid fishing was great off the rocks but there are only a couple places to fish there and I never really gave it any time. Half the fish caught on friday was on Bobbers off the rocks fishing the drop off. Small Chironomids were more effective than large and the skinnier the better.  The one thing that keeps Pyramid Fishing interesting even when you’re not hooking fish is the fact that large schools of fish swim around your ladder  all day long.    Unfortunately the ones you see are seldom the ones you catch.   At least it’s interesting to watch.

Saturday morning, everyone fished the morning and did well before heading home. I was planning on staying till monday but the clouds and winds that were predicted never came. Pyramid lake does not fish good on Sunny and calm days like almost every day was. I set a goal of 10 fish in the morning and I would stay another day. I only got 5 and decided to drive home on Saturday and join Gina for Orthodox Easter on Sunday.

Things I learned on this trip for next time –

-Tie a variety of Beetles in different sizes and colors
-Fish closer to the ladder in the evening and mornings
-T11 and Sink Tips casting no further than 30 feet is good
-Small Skinny Chironomids with copper, and black heads.
-lighter tippets in tough conditions
-strip shorter
-Brown Wooly worms maybe?

Camping Stuff

-Nespresso Machine on Delta Power Station proved a quicker way to caffeinate and get ladder out in mornings.



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