The trout season at Pyramid Lake will kick off on October 1. Early in the lake’s cutthroats will be holding offshore around deep water structure, but things change quickly when short days and chilly nights combine to drop the water temperature.
With cool water temperatures, Lahontan Cutthroat move from their deep water sanctuaries to the shallows. This creates a fantastic winter trout fishery on Nevada’s Pyramid Lake for anglers like Denis Isbister who (weather permitting) troll plugs parallel to the shoreline in water depths ranging from 5-to-20 feet.
“We make big zigzag patterns while trolling, going from as little as four-to-five feet of water (where you can see bottom) before turning outward into 20-to-25 feet of water before aiming our boat toward shore again, while keeping our speed at 1.4 to 1.6 MPH,” Denis shared.
What’s important to realize, according to Denis, is that Cutthroat like to be teased into biting. Therefore, it’s important to troll erratically, use a high action lure, and make sure your offering is bouncing the bottom on a regular basis. What some anglers do, in addition to all the above, is to add even more action to their lure by regularly pumping their fishing rod up and down. This lifting and lowering of the rod tip is just another tease that often results in hook ups. To keep from snagging lures on bottom, Denis employs this trolling method along shorelines having a sandy bottom. He also feels that the fish bite best where his lures kick up a cloud of sediment as they strike the lake floor; something sand-covered bottoms provide.
With most fish averaging three-to-six pounds, 10-pounders common and 25-pound fish possible, Denis employs 30-pound super braid combined with a 15-pound fluorocarbon leader. A one ounce weight is all that’s needed during the winter troll season, which he attaches at the head end of an 8-foot leader. His lure choice (and that of many winter time anglers) is a U-20 size Flatfish. To give the fish multiple chances to see and strike his lures, Denis lets his plugs out different distances behind his boat. And while 60-to-80 feet might be the average lure distance, depending on the number of anglers, he will vary the let out from 40-to-120 feet.
Most years, the winter-time fishery described above runs from December through March on Pyramid Lake. During an exceptionally cold winter, this style of fishing can last into early April.
According to Denis, what causes this popular winter-time fishery to end is when bottom growing vegetation makes trolling close-to-shore impossible.