The states turning it on!

My Biggest, a solid fish around the 15lb mark.

The idea of an epic trip to the States was spawned a couple of years ago, when my good friend Danny invited me to stay with him and his family in their small mountain town in California. A few months back the timing finally lined up and it was all go.

After a hectic first experience of flying internationally, having a connecting flight cancelled and so on, I finally made it to Reno, Nevada, where we met and got straight into the action.

The first mission was fishing Pyramid Lake for lahontan cutthroat trout. Fishing had been red hot with fish congregating around certain areas of the lake in preparation for spawning. It didn’t take long to get on the fish, mainly thanks to Danny having fished it the week before. Once we had dialled in the subtleties, it was on.

Danny with an absolute thumper, a shade under 20lbs.

It really surprised me how picky these fish could be. We could see hundreds of fish cruising past, yet most wouldn’t touch a thing. It took a bit of experimenting to dial in the exact size, colour, and depth to present the flies. We were mainly fishing midge imitations under indictors with 4-6wt 12ftish switch rods off a ladder. The ladder gives you elevation above the water as well as keeping you out of the fridged water. The big switch rods were essential to be able to present the flies out a distance without needing a back cast, as the gnarly rocks would snap up almost any fly that came close. The small details of the fly and depth played a huge role in success, changing the fly depth by a half foot or a midge with a slightly different bead of body could make the difference between catching nothing and absolutely slaying it. You would often dial it in and start catching fish to have it suddenly die off, forcing you to change up again to figure what depth the fish had moved to or what fly they wanted.

I’d landed my first USA fish after being in the country only 24 hours, and over the next three days proceeded to have some epic fishing. We fished midges most of the day and then switching to stripping streamers in the evenings. The biggest fish came stripping streamers right on dusk – we had to stop fishing an hour after sunset – with Danny landing an absolute thumper, just a shade under 20lb and me landing a 15lb fish. We caught fish up to low teens on midges and dozens in the 3-8lb class. We watched a local guide land a 24lb fish on a size 16 midge, incredible!

The lake is at the end of the Truckee River drainage, so it has no outflow. The only way water leaves the lake is by evaporation and seepage. This means the water is very alkaline, and combined with the arid desert dryness it can be brutal on your hands and face. After a couple of days, your hands begin to crack and bleed if you don’t constantly moisturize them. Pretty incredible to think fish can even survive in such a harsh environment. It was such an experience to fish in such a brutal, rugged, yet stunning place. It should be on your bucket list if you enjoy fishing for a unique fish in such a unique place. I know I’ll be back.

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