PYRAMID LAKE & THE WILDLIFE
Pyramid Lake is 33 miles northeast of Sparks via Nevada Route 445 (Pyramid Way); 16 miles north of I-80 at Wadsworth via Nevada Route 447.
Pyramid Lake covers 125,000 acres, making it one of the largest natural lakes in the state of Nevada. Pyramid Lake is also the biggest remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan, the colossal inland sea that once covered most of Nevada. The scenery is spectacular, and the color of Pyramid Lake changes from shades of blue or gray, depending on the skies above. Pyramid Lake is also surrounded by unusual rock formations, including the Pyramid Lake Stone Mother. Pyramid Lake’s significant role in the history of the Paiute Indian tribe also adds to its mystique and the many myths and tales surrounding it.
Most recreational activities take place along Pyramid Lake's west shore. This is where you will find areas designated for camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and sunbathing. For sightseeing, bird watching, and taking photographs of the phenomenal scenery, additional locations on the Lake's east side are accessible via unpaved roads. It is here, just off the west shore near Red Bay, where you can get a close look at the pyramid-shaped rock formation that inspired explorer John C. Fremont to give it the name, Pyramid Lake.
The larger and neighboring island is Anaho Island which is a National Wildlife Refuge. A large colony of American White Pelicans habitats the islands well as other species such as California gulls, Caspian terns, Great Blue Herons, and snowy egrets. Boaters are prohibited from landing on Anaho Island and must not come within 500 feet of the shore.
MAP OF PYRAMID LAKE
FISH SPECIES IN PYRAMID LAKE
Pyramid Lake consists of 5 fish: The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (Pyramid Lake holds the world record for this species; click here to learn more), Cui-ui (kwee-wee), Sacramento Perch, Tui-chub and Tahoe Sucker.
LAHONTAN CUTTHROAT TROUT
Although coloration is variable, this species is generally heavily marked with large, rounded black spots, more or less evenly distributed over the sides, head, and abdomen. Spawning fish generally develop bright red coloration on the underside of the mandible and on the opercle. In spawning males, coloration is generally more intense than in females.
The world record Lahontan Cutthroat Trout was caught in 1925 in Pyramid Lake and measured in at an astonishing 39 inches long and 41lbs. Click here to learn more.
The Cui-ui (Chasmistes cuius) is a lake sucker found only in Pyramid Lake, Nevada. The cui-ui also inhabited Winnemucca Lake up until the 1930s, when a drought in combination with unrestricted diversion of water caused the lake to dry. Cui-ui are obligate stream spawners and although adult and juvenile cui-ui inhabit Pyramid Lake year-round, adults also use the lower 19 km of the Truckee River during the spawning season.
Sacramento perch (Archoplites interruptus) are members of the sunfish family. They virtually disappeared from California's central valley rivers and delta when their habitat was altered and non native sunfish were introduced. Sacramento perch were unable to compete with the black bass, bluegill and crappie, which raided the perch's nest. They were first introduced into Pyramid Lake in 1877. Sacramento perch, unlike the introduced sunfish, do not protect their nests and were steadily replaced in the ecosystem by the bass, crappie and bluegill. The Sacramento perch world record was 4 lbs 9 oz, 17", caught from Pyramid Lake, Nevada by John Battcher in 1971
The Tui chubs are the dominant fish of Pyramid Lake in number and biomass. They are the main prey species for Lahontan cutthroat trout and their annual recruitment is an important indicator of the overall ecosystem health of the lake. There are two forms within the lake. One is the Lahontan Creek Tui chub, Sipheteles bicolor obesa and the Lahontan Lake Tui chub, Sipheteles bicolor pectinifer. They are distinct enough morphologically to classify separately, particularly in their number of gillrakers. They tend to spawn at different times, hence, reducing hybridization. They tend to be dusky olive, brown, or brassy on the back and white to silver on the belly. The younger the fish, the more silvery the body color.
This fish is endemic to the Lahontan Basin and is found in lakes and streams throughout the Tahoe Basin. Lake-dwellers are larger than those in streams. It feeds most actively at night – on aquatic plants, detritus, and invertebrates from substrate. They have a high reproductive capacity and are relatively long-lived.