Big Cutthroat Trout in the Desert

Since writing these original words, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has passed a motion to close the lake to all activities Monday March 23rd, with no scheduled reopen date. Strange and unprecedented times. The good news is that the giant Cutthroat trout will be healthier and less pressured than ever when it opens back up. 

We recently made the trip to Pyramid Lake in Nevada to soak in the desert landscape, hang with some friends, and experience the pull of some big Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. Having never been, but heard many stories, we were not sure what to expect and we knew that you usually have to put in some pretty solid time on the water to find a larger specimen. With just a few days to get it done, we were excited to just get one of any size in the net! Luckily for us, the weather was good, we got some great tips from friends and we managed to find more than a couple over 10lbs...

The proportions on a the larger "pilot peak" strain of cutthroat out of the lake are something unique to behold in our experience.

- Garrison Doctor

The generally smaller 'summit' strain of Lahontan also get pretty big and the colors on them can be spectacular.

- Corinne Doctor
A woman holds a trout above the water while it is dripping
A person fishes from a ladder in a lake with mountains in the background

It is a strange fishing scene and surreal fishery, not just due to the size of this terminal lake and its fish in the desert, but also the scene of fisherman who flock from all over the country to try their hand. But where else do you have a decent shot on any given day of landing a Cutthroat well over 10lbs?

A woman holds a large trout in the water
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Just returned from Kooyooepah, aka Pyramid Lake, on the Paiute Indian land. With the guidance of guide Autumn Harry, I landed 5 spectacular Lahontan Cutthroat in 3.5 days of fishing. I can’t say enough about Autumn who got me to the best places to fish but also tied and selected all the flies, supplied me with a ladder and assisted this senior citizen to safely climb up and down. If you’re interested in more than catching fish, Autumn, who is completing her masters degree in geography at University of Nevada, Reno and has lived and fished on Paiute Land for most of her 29 years, knows every rock formation by name, the plants, birds (grew up doing the Christmas Bird Count), fish and history of this epic place. For me, a biologist and passionate Native American and native fish advocate, this trip was an amazing experience.

Jeffry Gottfried

Thanks for this email. Looks like it was an awesome trip. Brightened my day.


Beautiful. Thanks.

Martin Frentzek

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