When They Roll, They Roll: A Pyramid Lake Story

Published by: Harlan Kimball

Peer pressure is very present in fly fishing. After hearing friends stories about Pyramid Lake over the last couple years, I was convinced to join them on their trip to the legendary cutthroat fishery. I didn’t really need much persuasion. I was just excited to see a lake without 2 feet of ice on it. As good fishing reports flowed in from the interwebs, I tried to keep my expectations low. The lake turns on and off as it pleases and there is no use getting to excited before even wetting a line. I was lucky enough to tag along with friends that have some experience fishing Pyramid. Almost all the tips I was given before fishing the lake went something like, “Keep your bobber in the water.” I thought to myself, simple enough. After a long winter of not doing any stillwater fishing, I am more than happy to stare at a bobber all day long.

Days leading up to the trip, I did what any fly fisherman would do. I Google searched “fly fishing Pyramid Lake.” Among the thousands of grip and grins, the thing that interested me the most was the history surrounding the lake. Learning a bit more about the lake’s past makes you appreciate the fishery and the people that made it what it is today. The lake lies entirely on the tribal land of the Paiute Tribe. The Paiute people have long been the protectors and educators of Pyramid Lake. There are stories of war, droughts, and even the extinction of the Lahontan cutthroat trout in the 1940’s.  Without the preservation of the lake by the Paiute people, the fish would have been forgotten and the lake would not be the fishery it is today.


I only had two and a half days to fish. Action on the first day was minimal. The slow pace prepared me for what fly fishing Pyramid is all about. Hanging out with friends, making new ones, and anticipating something large at the end of your line. The comradery among the fisherman at Pyramid is like no other. We all shared tactics with one another because watching someone else succeed makes the experience and enviornement that much more enjoyable. We roped in a few fish in the morning, but they still weren’t “rolling” like you hear about. Davis said to me, “When they roll, they roll.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he was talking about, but then again, Davis says some weird stuff and you just go along with it. What does it mean when they roll? It’s a saying for when huge groups of fish cruise through your area gorging on anything and everything they can. It can happen for 30 minutes or all day. Lucky for us, on the second day, they rolled… all day. I’m going to shut up and let some of the pictures from our day do the talking.

The mandatory Rocky Mountain Kool-Aid in its designated spot. There was no shortage of casts the first day. Things were slow, but the moral was still high going into day two. 

Truck side mingling. 

Back at camp, Davis and Cian treated us with some jalapeno duck poppers.  

Day two started at the crack of dawn. Can't beat waking up to a view like this...

A little bobber chop changed our luck.

Cian with a midge eater. No giant, but a looker for sure!

Davis was next up. Eventually bobbers were dropping everywhere. 

Ladder scramble. 

The pretty ones might be smaller, but impossible not to get a picture of.

Cian with another. 

Then there's the mega cutthroat that everyone's there for. 

Even Luke! 

Thanks for reading. So long! 

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