SUTCLIFFE, Nev. — As Ben Fry and I left the pavement of rural Highway 395 and found our way slowly onto the reservation, the road forked and a large sign read “Road Washed Out” but failed to specify which road. Since we were already 40 miles off the highway, and Bryan Glass, the angler with whom we were meeting up with to fish, was catching fish after fish and updating us by phone, we pressed on.

Exactly eight miles from Bryan’s location, the road was indeed washed out.

Eight miles.

From the flowing stream to the high bank on the other side was a height of more than 20 feet of insurmountable, dream-shattering dirt.

Despondent, we turned tail and prepared to take the alternate route — through Reno — that would tack on two and a half hours before we got to fish.

A flat tire on the way out added insult to our injured spirits, but in short order, we swapped out the spare and began cruising the scenic miles of roadway at breakneck speed.

Day 1

The first day was simple. We met up with Bryan, Brier Kelly and a host of other anglers in the group at Pelican Point.

Ben and I both had two fish that night — not bad for an hour of fishing.

Day 2

A long, mostly sleepless night passed by slowly in the cramped motel room, and I awoke at 2:30 a.m. having earned less than an hour of sleep to cool my brain.

We caravanned to the parking area and stuck our ladders in the water about 20 feet from the shore to claim the real estate we’d be fishing that day. Ladders were about 15 to 25 feet apart, and mine was the last in line; I stood alone as the only spinfisherman on the crowded beach.

After quivering with anticipation for hours, light finally crested the rocky outcroppings that framed the lake, and I cast just after 6 a.m.

Before it was light enough to see the end of my own rod, the first indicator went down.

Our group of a dozen anglers or so had three or four hookups before a fish decided to take my Rapala.

Every angler on the beach had between two and seven fish by the time 9 a.m. rolled around.

After I landed two fish on successive casts, Ben and I both had nine.

I snapped the pictures of those two fish at 9:01 a.m.

Despite standing on my ladder all but 15 minutes that day, casting three to five times per minute from 9:01 a.m. until 7:15 p.m., I had just one bite and failed to land another fish.

Ben, meanwhile, was killing it.

He was using two maroon chromonids below an indicator fished close to his ladder. Though almost every one of the other fly guys and gals had a similar setup, he was out-fishing the rest of our group combined.

I was surprised to see many of the “hardcore” flyfisherman spend hours at a time off their ladders, sitting on the beach, drinking, smoking, talking and simply not fishing.

Ben, Bryan and I were the only three who spent almost all day fishing.

I caught more fish than any of the hundred or so anglers on our beach that day with 14, but Ben nearly doubled my output. Twenty-six fish made him the stuff of legend as we headed to Crosby’s Lodge — the destination of all Pyramid Lake anglers after a long day on the water — and he absolutely deserved it.

Day 3

By the final day, my hands were so mangled from essentially being soaked in lye all day and then carved up by line, lures and fish teeth that tying a knot was a feat at the limit of my dexterity.

My shoulder ached from the more than 3,000 casts I’d thrown the day before — a total that put my longest days on a bass boat to shame.

My shins and feet throbbed from standing on the narrow rungs of the ladder and trying to balance in the punishing winds of the ‘Mid.

My face and the backs of my hands were sun- and windburned, and my neck was tight from the chill that came and went with the clouds.

Bryan and Brier had camped on the lakeshore that night and had planted our ladders for us to allow Ben and I an extra hour or two of sleep.

For whatever reason, I had dozens of fish follow my lures up to my ladder without striking that day, and I landed just two that morning.

Ben, of course, took top honors once again.


We bid farewell to Bryan and Brier and vowed to make another trip later in the year, knowing now what to expect and hoping we might then see a true monster.

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