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Catch and Release Program catching on at Pyramid

Next time you catch a 10-pound-plus cutthroat at Pyramid, don't drag it around the lake for a pin, take a picture, release it and give back with a donation.
Next time you catch a 10-pound-plus cutthroat at Pyramid, don't drag it around the lake for a pin, take a picture, release it and give back with a donation.
Photo courtesy Pyramid Lake C&R Club.

Pyramid Lake is home to massive Lahontan cutthroat known to grow to 40-plus pounds. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has been busy helping the fishery live up to its former potential with the Pilot Peak program and the results are awesome. Most avid lake anglers feel the 41-pound record will fall in the next couple of years, but with any great success story comes its challenges.

Quality cutthroat need to be immediately photographed and released to keep Pyramid going strong.
Photo by Brian Strang

"We've created a simple program to reward fishermen for releasing the fish they catch, especially the bigger fish at 10-, 15- and 20-plus pounds," said Brandon Brady of the Adventure Syndicate. "The growth rate of these fish is phenomenal and a properly handled and released fish will be several pounds bigger the next year.

"The catch and release reward program also seeks to provide an alternative to another reward program at the lake, facilitated by Crosby’s Lodge, that encourages people to keep and bring fish in to the Lodge for a 10-pound-plus club pin, picture and a free drink. Our stickers are free, but we are soliciting donations to a paypal account at You can also take cash and pass it on to the facilitators of the program in the region. We will donate 100-percent of the proceeds to the Pyramid Lake cutthroat restocking program."

Unfortunately, with the 10-pound-pin program, folks are currently catching fish on one side of the lake, transporting them in coolers, taking pictures of them in the lodge and then releasing 10- to 30-pound fish 20 minutes to 40 minutes later. The fish swim away, but many quality fish are being found dead the next day. The catch-and-release program is a good idea to combat this stressing of all fish and damage to big fish, but there are rules to follow to earn your catch-and-realese sticker:

1. The fish must be landed following all Pyramid Lake regulations.
2. You must take a picture of the fish and submit it when requesting a sticker.
3. You must show proof of the weight of the fish either by taking a picture of the scale or a length and girth. If the fish is measured and not weighed, the formula length x girth x girth/690 will be used. In some cases a witness to the weight will be considered.
4. The fish needs to be weighed in a net (or similar device) that reduces harm to the fish while weighing. Weighing with the fish suspended by the jaw is not accepted and discouraged, i.e. using a boga grip or hooking the jaw to weigh
5. The fish must be released in the same location as soon as possible following measurement and picture. Fish that are transported, placed on a stringer, or other holding device will be disqualified from the program.

"Lastly, this is not an elitist program for just fly fishermen," said Brady. "Boat fishermen and spin cast fishermen are welcome to participate in the program as long as the same rules are followed."

In the Reno area, you can pick up a sticker and make a donation at Orvis Reno, Angler’s Edge in Gardnerville, NV, guide Rob Anderson of Reno Flyfishing Outfitters , Facebook group Pyramid Lake Fly Fishing, Korey Farnworth of Facebook Group Hell’s Kitchen Cutthroats and guide Chris Wharton at Stillwater Guide Service. For more information contact Brady at

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