Location and Overview
Pyramid Lake is located in northwestern Nevada, about 40 miles from Reno. Home to native Lahontan cutthroat trout, the lake sits on land belonging to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. When much of the water from the Truckee River was diverted to agricultural uses in 1938, the Lahontan fishery suffered considerably due to a lack of water flowing into the lake. The Paiute tribe helped negotiate an agreement in the 1970’s which restored enough of the Truckee’s water to Pyramid Lake to sustain a new Lahontan fishery, and as a result the lake is once again home to some outstanding cutthroat fishing. The tribe also maintains the Numana Fish Hatchery, which raises Lahontans for stocking in the lake.
To get to Pyramid Lake, take NV State Highway 445 north from the Reno/Sparks area, or go north on NV 447 from Fernley (check out the map).
Fishermen rate Pyramid Lake:
Fishin’ Pyramid Lake
Back in 1925, John Skimmerhorn took a 41-pound cutthroat trout in Pyramid Lake – a world record which still stands today. The lake remains a mecca for devoted trout fishermen. Trolling with flashy lures like Fish Holograms or Tor-P-Dos is a good producer of fish. Fairly large and heavy lures (7/8 ounce) are the order of the day, since the fish tend to congregate in deeper water beyond the drop-offs that ring the edge of lake.
Shore fishermen generally report good results with similar flashy spoons on 8- to 10-pound test. Fly fishermen do well with #4-6 Woolly Buggers and Woolly Worms, and #6 Stanley Streamers and other streamer patterns. Be prepared to cast a considerable distance if you choose to fish from shore. Because the water near the bank tends to be shallow, leading up to drop-offs into deeper water, many shore fishermen take a step ladder or milk crate with them to stand on while fishing in the shallows. Since the fish tend to hold on or below the drop-offs, the extra height this affords allows anglers to better place their casts for maximum effect.
Although trout are by far the biggest draw here, Pyramid Lake is also home to a thriving Sacramento Perch population. Try small jigs around weeds or rocks if you want to catch some of these little guys.
Some good areas for bank fishing include Popcorn Beach, Sandhole Beach, “The Nets,” and the Warrior Point area on the west side of the lake, and L.A. Rock and the Great Stone Mother on the east shore. Keep in mind that the east shore of Pyramid Lake is restricted to day use only (no camping), and that most areas on that shore can be accessed only via dirt roads.
A boat launch ramp is located on the west shore of the lake near Crosby Lodge. Supplies and tackle may be purchased at the lodge or at the Pyramid Lake Store. Guide services are available from a number of different outfitters; for further information, ask at either of the two stores.
All anglers must have a Tribal Fishing Permit in their possession while fishing. These are available at Crosby Lodge in Sutcliffe, on the west shore of the lake, and at the Pyramid Lake Store located on Pyramid Lake Road (NV 445). Be sure to obey the size and possession limits outlined below while fishing at Pyramid. Trout season runs from October 1 to June 30 each year, while perch may be taken all year round.
Pyramid Lake Weather
With a surface elevation of 3800 feet, Pyramid Lake does not sit at particularly high elevation. Still, due to its location in northern Nevada, winters tend to be cold and summers relatively hot. High temperatures in July and August will typically climb into the 90’s, with wintertime highs in the 40’s and 50’s. Winter lows easily drop down into the 20’s at night. Keep in mind that Pyramid Lake is in a desert, which means there is little or no natural shade around the shore of the lake. Take appropriate precautions during the summer months to avoid dehydration and sunburn.
Boaters should also check the latest weather forecast before launching and be aware of any changes in conditions that may pose a hazard while on the lake.
Click here to see current weather conditions and forecasts for the town of Sutcliffe.
Lodging and Camping
Crosby Lodge in Sutcliffe is the only lodging option located close to Pyramid Lake. The lodge offers cabin and trailer rentals, and has a store with groceries and supplies. Lodging is also available in Reno and Sparks, both located about a 30-minute drive south on NV 445, and in Fernley, located south of the lake via NV 447.
While there are no areas designated as parks or campgrounds at Pyramid Lake other than Warrior Point Park, camping is permitted along the west shore of the lake except in areas signed otherwise. A tribal camping permit is required. These may be purchased at either of the stores located near the lake, and cost $5.00 per day or $35.00 for a ten-day permit. A 120-day permit is available for $100.00, with the stipulation that it may be used for only up to 10 continuous days at a time. No camping is permitted on the east shore of the lake, which is designated for day use only.
For those who enter reservation land but are not fishing or camping, a day use permit is required. These cost $5.00 per day, or a seasonal day pass may be purchased for $32.00.
For the complete Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe camping and day use regulations, click here.
Licensing and Regulations
Pyramid Lake is open to fishing year round, with fishing allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Only artificial flies and lures may be used. Trout season is open from October 1 to June 30 each year. Anglers 12 years of age or older must have a valid Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe fishing permit in their possession while fishing. These are available from the stores listed above, and cost $6.00 for a daily permit or $32.00 for an annual permit. Non-fishermen must have a day use pass as noted above.
Certain waters are closed to fishing, including the entire length of the Marble Bluff Fishway and that part of the lake within 600 feet of the mouth of the fishway, the Truckee River between Numana Dam and Pyramid Lake, the fish pens located in the Sutcliffe area, and that portion of the lake within a 1000-foot radius of the fish attraction channel near the fish pens.
Bag and possession limits are as follows:
Trout – Two trout or salmon in combination may be taken each day, with a possession limit of four fish total. A slot limit applies to trout. Legal size is from 16 to 19 inches, or 24 inches and longer. Only one fish 24 inches or longer may be possessed. This is to protect spawning fish so that the fishery may be sustained.
Sacramento Perch – Five fish per day, not to exceed five fish in possession.
Additionally, Pyramid Lake is home to the endangered Cui-Ui, a type of sucker. These may not be taken or possessed except under certain conditions by members of the Paiute Tribe.
Any other game fish not listed have no size, bag or possession limit.
For the complete Pyramid Lake fishing regulations, click here.