Pyramid Lake, March 19-22, 2021


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Tetonia, Idaho
I made it to Pyramid Lake this year. I left about 12 days after my second dose of the Covid vaccine; I would not have gone if I hadn't had the vaccine.

March 19—Got to my favored campsite at Warrior Point on Pyramid Lake about noon, and set up my 21 ft. travel trailer. Fished a little but no luck. The wind started about sundown and nuked all night—it shook the trailer!

A panorama from the south end of Pyramid Lake.

A panorama at Warrior Point, starting north-northwest on the left, to south-southeast on the right.

March 20—Too windy to fish at my north-exposed camp and beach at Warrior Point. Went to Windless Bay, a semi-protected bay where the wind was tolerable. I caught one using a pink size 12 chironomid under a bobber. I tried to measure it using tape marks I had put on my net handle, but trying to tail it with one hand and attempting to get it aligned with the net handle in waves on the beach was impossible. So was getting a decent photo… I estimated the fish was about 24”, or about 7 pounds. This is actually an average-sized catch here, and I was hoping for something bigger.
My most excellent fish photo. What looks like haze on the hills in the distance is snow falling, and the waves crashing on the beach are small compared to the beaches that are more exposed to the wind.

"The Needles" at the north end of Pyramid Lake

March 21—fished 3 hours in the morning at camp with no action. At least the wind was calm! Ate an early dinner and fished until dark—not a bite. Nobody else was catching any, either. Fished almost entirely with my 8-weight switch and a bobber, because I was having issues single-hand casting my new 10’ 7 weight, which I built this winter from a Proof Fly Fishing kit. The arthritis in my thumbs was making it painful to use my thumb on the forward cast.

March 22—My last day. Got up at 6:00 a.m. and fished near camp for about an hour before the wind came across the bay out of the North, and made casting impossible. A strong North wind at Warrior Point means you’re done. As I fished, I could see the whitecaps moving across the lake, and knew I would be done when that weather reached me.

I packed up and went to Windless Bay again. Before I even started fishing, a guy in a group with a guide hooked a 15-pounder. I went over to look at the beast in the net; they were jigging with spinning gear. They had a scale, and weighed the fish in the net. The guide was friendly, but wouldn’t tell me the exact pattern he was using. I can’t blame him for that—I probably wouldn’t have, either. I fished there with the same chironomid and bobber setup that worked the day before. Meanwhile, while his clients took a long break, the guide hooted and hollered every time he caught one, which was every 15 minutes to a half hour or so. None of the other fly fishers were having any luck either, so at 3:30 I headed back to camp for some hot caffeine.

After warming up and drinking a cup of coffee, I decided to try stripping with my 10 foot 7 wt. I used the Pyramid Lake combo of a foam Popcorn Beetle (white) in front, and a black and purple balanced leech in back. I know a lot of guys fish balanced leeches under bobbers, but I have caught fish in previous years using this setup. The foam beetle tries to float to the surface on the pauses, bringing the leech up with it. On the strip, the line straightens out and the leech pulls the beetle back down. And, I was getting bored watching the bobber.

I figured out a way I could cast the 10-footer without using my thumb on the grip. I used my left hand on the fighting butt and used my right hand as more of a lever point on the forward cast, similar to casting a two-handed rod. It worked, and I could finally enjoy my new rod! It casts pretty well, and it was a fun way to get started in rod-building.

Casting and stripping can get tiring, though, and I was getting lazy. On my first trip to Pyramid Lake a few years ago, a group of us hired a guide for the day. He sold me a fast sink-tip single-hand line for a 7 weight, and rigged it with a short butt section of yellow-green mono. He told us to always keep stripping until we saw the mono, because often a fish will follow your streamer right up to the end, and sometimes take it just before you pull it out.

I had been casting and stripping for about an hour, and was starting to think that with all the wind and only one fish, I might be done coming to Pyramid Lake. I got lazy, and on what was going to be my last cast, pulled the rod tip up before the mono had appeared. As I watched my line and started to reel in, I saw a pretty big fish following my fly—the first time I had seen that the whole trip!

That night, the wind blew harder than it had since I got there. It shook my trailer and set up a humming noise in something, making it difficult to sleep. The next day was sunny and clear, but the wind was still pretty strong. March can be a good month to fish Pyramid Lake because the fish are close to shore, but the weather can be an issue. I would not want to camp there in a tent! I will probably go back, though. There's a 20-pounder in there with my name on it, and it followed my fly until I pulled the fly away too soon.

The Pyramid that gives Pyramid Lake its name. Warrior Point is in the right-hand distance.