The Truckee River flows 110 miles from Lake Tahoe, CA to Pyramid Lake, NV. More than 70 miles runs through the state of Nevada which far less fishing pressure then California. Once home to the enormous Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, the Truckee in Nevada now holds a good population of Rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. The average trout in the Truckee is over fourteen inches, with many over twenty inches. Many fly fishers avoid the Truckee in Nevada due to its lack of summer hatches and urban setting. What most locals don’t want you to know is how great the dry fly fishing can be during coldest winter months. Gear is easy for the Truckee, four to six weight rods eight to eleven feet in length, paired with floating lines will cover the majority of conditions. High-stick and indicator nymph fishing is certainly the most productive method throughout the year. Streamers are also a good choice especially if you’re targeting the largest trout in the river.
Access can be found upstream of Reno near the California/Nevada state line in the town of Verdi. Crystal Peak Park and Dog Valley Bridge provide anglers with an alpine like setting closely resembling the much more popular California section. As the river continues into Reno it starts to feel much more urban and access can be found at Mogul, Mayberry Park, Dorokstar Park, Ivan Sack Park, Idlewild Park and the downtown Whitewater park. This stretch is also very popular with rafters and kayakers during summer afternoons. These upper access points have great areas of pocket water, riffles, and some plunge type pools near the state line. The river in Reno is very urban, often surrounded by curious bystanders strolling along the river. East of Town access begins at Lockwood where TNC has recently made some fish friendly upgrades. Mustang and Patrick provide anglers with good access near the bridges. The Truckee east of Reno offers more than fifteen miles of productive trout fishing to be explored.
Pyramid Lake can be found entirely on the Pyramid Lake Piute Indian Reservation less than an hour Northeast of Reno. Home to the 42 lb. world record Lahontan Cutthroat Trout any fishing efforts require a special Pyramid Lake reservation fishing permit. The very large high desert lake is roughly eleven miles long, four miles wide, and more than 300 feet deep. Fly Fishers typically keep their efforts to the Western shoreline where more improved access can be found. The fishing season is open from October through June protecting the trout from deep fishing methods over the warmest months.
Less than a hundred years ago the Lahontan Cutthroat trout grew to sixty pounds in the lake, using the Truckee River as its spawning grounds. Unfortunately the original Lahontan Cutthroat trout was driven to extinction by pollution, over harvesting, and diverting water away from its spawning grounds. I believe Ralph Cutter said it best with, “We‘ve traded lunkers for whoppers” referring to the water of the Truckee River now used to grow cattle feed.
Winter tactics include a fast action seven to nine weight rod that is nine to eleven feet in length. Lines are typically the fastest sinking possible, type six shooting heads are the preferred. Waders and extremely warm clothing are a must with temperatures often below freezing. The waters alkalinity/salt content keeps it from freezing which is great, but guides still seem to lock up pretty quick on the really cold days. The lakes famous ladder technique is used to keep anglers out of the frigid water. Fishing is as easy as finding a deep water shelf, tossing a couple woolly worms over the edge of it, let’em sink, then pull them back to you, then repeat. This method is tedious but pays in fish over ten pounds often.
Spring methods call for the same rods but utilize floating lines. Fly fishers can choose between the winter methods which still work very well and the newer midge fishing techniques. Hanging two midges under an indicator or slowly retrieved is pretty deadly when the fish move in close to shore. The warmer temperatures in late March trigger the spawn. This moves many of the fish out of the depths into the shallows looking for fresh water. Under normal weather conditions the spring can be very well known for its quantity and quality. Regardless of what season your fishing the lake almost always fishes better when some wind, waves, and cloud cover can be found.