Raising Gus Pyramid lake
Words: Aimee Eaton
Photos: Mike and Aimee Eaton
We come into Sutcliffe, Nevada in the dark after driving for eight hours. The headlights show doublewides and bass boats, a casino/bait shop/bar/gas station/grocery store that we’ve heard has the best short ribs this side of the California line, and a hint of a shore. In the morning we wake up in what is essentially a parking lot, but it’s a parking lot with a view that in some areas would harbor land prices pushing the million-dollar mark.
For roughly 165 square miles, Pyramid Lake stretches across the Nevada desert. It reaches depths upward of 350 feet, is slightly salty, and has more water than Utah’s Great Salt Lake. It’s also the only place in the United States to fish for 20-plus pound Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which is why we’ve left the known waters and healthy Bull Trout population of the Metolious River and ventured southeast onto tribal land for the second stop in a year-long road trip focused on exploring new waters and new fisheries.
After a quick breakfast in the trailer, we pull on waders, throw the 7,8 and 9 weight rods into the back of the truck and load us into the front, but when Mike turns the key the engine makes the werwerwer sound of a vehicle that has no plans to start. After five minutes of cranking, Ed, a permanent resident of the Sutcliffe RV Park comes over with a can of starter fluid and explains that the cold is rough on engines and “everyone uses ether” to get their rigs going in the morning. This doesn’t make a ton of sense since we’ve come from temperatures at least 20 degrees colder, but we pop off the air filter, Ed sprays in a few shots and we’re up and running. We spend the day exploring and talking to people then head back to the trailer for the night.
The next morning the truck, again, won’t start and we diagnose the problem as a bad glow plug relay. It’s a minor thing, but requires a trip into Reno for parts and an hour or two of labor. With the drive, the baby and work schedules that means no fishing. By our third day we’re ready to put in some time on the water.
We fish dawn patrol, a few hours midday and late afternoon till half an hour after dark. In the spring and summer the lake crawls with people and fishermen, but now in January with the wind blowing white caps on the water, the fishing slow and temperatures that make our hands go numb after only a few retrieves the area feels abandoned. Our voices travel out over the lake, then return to us with the reverb of echoes. Somewhere out there are huge trout, but here and now it feels like we might be the only living things in the world.
Aimee, Mike and Gus (age 8-months) Eaton are spending 2015 traveling the United States fly fishing for every major game species that can be caught on a fly rod. Follow along on their adventures at raisinggus.com and @raising_gus