Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pyramid Prep

For several weeks I've been talking about fishing Pyramid Lake; one of the most popular trout angling destinations in the country right now. For years Sharon has been telling me she wanted to come out this way and try her hand at catching one of the famed Lahontan cutthroat trout she has heard so much about from me. Well we finally made it to the area and are setup in Sparks, NV just east of Reno and things are ramping up.

When we landed here our intention was to get right at it. But once we pulled into town we realized it was coming up on Memorial Day weekend. That happens when you're traveling full-time with no set time frame. Things like holidays slip up on you because let's face it everyday is akin to a holiday when you're traveling the country with no set itinerary. After doing a little research and checking fishing reports I found that the crowds aren't quite as thin as hoped. Some of the beaches are still getting crowded so we opted not to try and fight the holiday weekend crowds. Instead we're staying longer than originally planned so we can fish next week. I will keep watching the weather and solunar tables and pick a day to go out and fish. hopefully it will all work out in the end. This has given me plenty of time to prep and research.

There was a time when I wouldn't have thought of passing on a single fishing day due to almost anything let alone something as minor as crowds. But as time goes by and I get, not older, let's say "more age mature" the number of days on the water seems to take a back seat to the quality of those days. As a young man I heard or read stories by "mature" anglers when they would say things like this and I just didn't get it. When I first came here in 1994 I couldn't wait to get on the water. I was young, eager and didn't mind abusing my body by fishing every hour I could and working all the rest sleeping just enough to keep me alive. I used to tell Sharon "I'll sleep when I'm dead" much to her chagrin. It doesn't work that way anymore. I sometimes wish it did but am glad for the way things are now on the other 98 days out of 100. Besides it gives me time to tie flies.

One thing I had forgotten about was the need for a stripping basket at Pyramid. Maybe I should quantify that more specifically. It's not so much a NEED as it is a tool to make things much more enjoyable. Plus we are headed to Morro Bay, CA after we leave here and the stripping basket will come in really handy in the surf as I learned last year in Panama City, FL. The preferred method here is to fish a pair of flies on a fast-sinking shooting head with a very slow stripped retrieve. The stripping basket is a life saver at keeping the running line under control during those long retrieves. On a calm day it's no big deal to strip the running line directly into the water if it's a floating running line. But when is it calm at Pyramid Lake? Not very often.

With a little online research I was able to find a relatively new and inexpensive design from William Joseph at the local Cabelas. I've had solid, molded stripping baskets before and haven't really cared for having the big, rigid bucket strapped to my waist. I'm also really, really clumsy sometimes and have ended up cutting myself on the plastic edges of both of them. This one is soft all the way round.

One of the clever aspects of the William Joseph design is that it can be collapsed when not in use and opened up by simply pulling the tab on the front to form the opening. It also has an integrated rod holder which amounts to a flap that is secured by a Velcro strip across the front. It seemed to work pretty good lawn casting but that rarely means certain success in the real world. There's nothing like a running line screaming out of a stripping basket or apron to really test it out. Fingers crossed that I get a chance to see how that works out real soon.

As a fanatical fly tyer one thing that rubs me the wrong way on an unguided trip is using store bought flies.Sure they usually work just fine and more often than not hold up pretty well too but all things equal I would much rather catch the same fish on a fly I tied and preferably with my own little tweaks. In tournament bass fishing, tournament anglers all have what they call a go to confidence bait. It's the one style of lure they just feel most confident with on any given day on any given body of water. I have a go to confidence material. Give me a chance to put marabou in or on a fly and by golly it will end up with marabou on it somewhere. Second to marabou my go to confidence material is a bunny, mink or other like strip of fur. Why is that? Simply put , these two materials move like no others in the water where it counts.

With a little online searching I located the flies that have been working for other anglers as of late, mixed that with the patterns that worked for me so many moons ago then put some confidence on them. I don't know that they will work any better than the flies I could buy in the local shops but I do know I will fish them harder because they look right to me. And when I land a fish on them they will have come from my vise.

My favorite fly in 1994 was a kind of crystal wooly bugger in purple. I didn't do much tying at the time and got all my flies from a couple of locals I fished with or at the Reno Fly Shop. Today I whipped up a version of that purple thing using what I have on hand. It's an ugly thing and should either skunk them or skunk me, there's very little room for anything in between with this thing. Heavy brass eyes, marabou and polar chenille. My favorite kind of fly quick and easy to tie with very few materials.

The locals have also taken to using something called a Popcorn Beetle. I put a little confidence on it too but I'm not the first so here's hoping it pays off as part of the two fly rig.

I haven't even been to a fly shop since we hit town. It's not that I don't want to it's more that I'm kind of afraid of spending more money than is healthy at the moment. I need to save the budget for Morro Bay later in the month. Thank goodness I can tie my own flies. With all this fishing prep going on I would be broke otherwise. Tomorrow I'll be whipping up some leaders. It's like fish porn all this preparation.

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