About Pyramid Lake Fisheries
The Desert Lake
Pyramid Lake is located 35 miles north of Reno on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. Pyramid is a "high desert" lake (elevation 3,800 feet) fed by the waters of the Truckee River and has no outlet. The water in Pyramid Lake is about 1/6 as salty as sea water. The lake is flanked on the east and west by rugged mountain ranges, and around the lake shore there are many large "tufa" rock formations (formed by calcium carbonate deposits). Lots of folks come here just to enjoy the scenery. Water skiing, jet skiing, camping, and observing wildlife is popular activities during the summer months!
A Fragile Ecosystem
The Lahontan cutthroat trout and a large sucker-like fish called Cui-ui evolved in the Great Basin and were important to the culture of the Paiute Indians. So important, that their tribe was known as the Kuyuidokado or people who eat Cui-ui. With the settlement of western Nevada and diversion of Truckee River waters, lake levels dropped dramatically, the cutthroat trout could not reach their spawning sites on the upper river and the original trout died out by the early 1940's. The Cui-ui had poor success accessing the river to spawn and were declared endangered in 1963. Hatchery programs beginning in 1949, stocked Lahontan cutthroat trout back to Pyramid Lake, restoring the fishery. Intensive management of the spring Cui-ui runs is restoring strong year classes of Cui-ui. The Tui chub minnow is the most abundant fish in Pyramid Lake, and it is the primary prey of the voracious Lahontan cutthroat trout. Recent population sampling efforts in the lake suggest that the Tui chub populations are declining.
Hatcheries Role in Our Fishery
The influence of man on the waterways and aquatic ecosystems has impacted the natural balance once enjoyed by the native people. Today modern technology is assisting in assuring that populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout and Cui-ui are maintained at desirable levels. Since 1974 when the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe took over fisheries management responsibilities, the tribe has constructed 3 trout rearing facilities on the reservation and two facilities to hatch Cui-ui. The US Fish and Wildlife has maintained a critical role here also. The Lahontan National Fish hatchery located in Gardnerville annually provides cutthroat trout for Pyramid Lake. The US Fish and Wildlife Service also maintain the Marble Bluff Fish way at the mouth of the Truckee River to allow the passage of Cui-ui during years of low water inflow. The Marble Bluff Dam was constructed on the lower river to prevent head cutting of the river channel above the lake. This 35 foot high dam contains a fish lock that lifts spawning Cui-ui and cutthroat up above the dam for assess to the upper river. The role of Pyramid Lake Fisheries is to coordinate fish production of their hatcheries, with the hatchery production of the US FWS facilities to maintain and enhance the fish community of Pyramid Lake for the tribe and all our visitors.
Also see Hatcheries for more information.
Book a Tour
Tours are a good opportunity to educate our youth on the spawning of the Lahontan cutthroat trout and the importance of being stewards of these fish. Any organization is welcome to observe and participate during spawning season which can run from March through May. Classes from kindergarten through high school all enjoy the drama of spawning big fish. To schedule a tour, call the administration office at 775.476.0500.