Just recently, I was invited by some friends to hit the road and travel to some new fishing destinations. We were all loaded up and the caravan of cars took off at 3:30AM with the rich smells of coffee lingering inside of each vehicle as we all prepared for the long road ahead of us.
We spent the first day making a pit-stop at the infamous canyon that holds a small river of very eager brown trout. With an awesome day of smashing browns on small hackle stackers and midges, it was ended with an evening rainstorm that seemed to come from no where. About two hours or so of downpour was waited out by the team and as soon as it came to a halt, we were all settled up for a quick snooze and anxious for our mission to Pyramid in the AM. As the frigid night passed us by, we were up and at it again at 3AM.
We luckily had our new FFO employee, Zac Sayed along with us, who spent plenty of his years in Reno and has fished the lake often. We meet up with some more friends who we had met online and then suited up for the water after another 4-5 hours on the road. The winds were kicking up easily over 50mph our first day and I had seen 2 guys get blown into the water off of their step ladders. The lake had massive crashing waves and salty air as if you were at the ocean. This was good. The fishing was prime. I linked into quite a few fish my first day and with all of them sizing up around or over 20 inches. The second day had some bitter weather as well so the fishing was great once again. This time upon linking into tons of nice-sized, colorful fish I connected with a beautiful 8-9 pound Lahontan Cutthroat. Then I went onto to hook something massive that sent me for a real thrill. The fish was taking big runs and massive big head shakes only to stay on the line for about 60 seconds. Although I never even saw a flash, that is where I got hooked and truly understood what kind of fish lived in those waters
Overall, we spent two and a half days on the lake and the fishing was phenomenal. So phenomenal indeed, that after making it back to Bend, I decided to head back for a solo week trip to the lake to get my revenge on that fish that evaded me.
Arriving back to the lake with a snowstorm filled drive, I knew that the fishing was going to be good for a few days, and boy was I right. I got revenge on my second day, and upon catching a 12 pounder and a bunch of gorgeous trout, I landed the giant I was looking for. I was hooked into a giant and I knew it. I let him ride and kept the best tension I could on him knowing I was on RIO 3x-Flouro tippet (8.5lb). He ran me to my backing twice, I mean all the way to the end of my backing. It was a real rush seeing my Behemoth reel almost completely spooled and considering to wrap my hand around the backing, but just as there was about 12 inches left, I began to feel him tire out so I started reeling him in slowly but letting him run if he gave any extra tension. After the scariest 7 minute battle or so of my life, my buddy Casey landed the fish in his massive net on his second scoop. These local guys always have a scale handy and immediately weighed the fish inside the 2lb net, and he rang up to 20.5lb! I was more than mind blown. After a few snaps from my photographer buddy, Kyle Beckmann, the fish was whipping his tail back and boosted like a steel torpedo into the depths to live another day.
This 18.5 pound fish was even more than I seeked to catch and will certainly be the fish of a lifetime for me. Whenever the water is calling you, I suggest you do your best to make it happen and get outside. I was very blessed with this catch and can only look forward to seeing what this amazing fishery has to provide on future trips. Thanks for reading and hopefully you enjoy some of the photos I got along the way.
Much love and stay golden,
-Austin Montreil Leonard