Sunday in the Desert

When most people think of the desert, they probably don’t think of fly fishing for trout. However, the high deserts of the west provide some pretty amazing opportunities to catch great wild fish. I live in Reno, Nevada and my home waters are the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake. They are both great. I knew I wanted to branch out a bit and explore some water that was unfamiliar to me, so I contacted Mike Curtis from Bucking Trout Outfitters to see if he could help me out. We found a Sunday that worked for both of our schedules and the plans were set.

I met Mike in Reno and off we went on a two hour drive south. When we arrived in the area we were going to fish, we started by looking for a good starting spot. Mike was quite familiar with the area, so it made scouting a snap.

scouting for wild trout

The area is wild and rugged. Doesn’t seem like a place for trout!



On the hunt.


Mike quickly got us to a good spot to begin and we started walking towards the river. Many people don’t think the desert is beautiful, but I just don’t think they are looking hard enough. One of my favorite things about this trip was the scenery. It always impresses me to see how much life survives in harsh environments.

When we arrived at the river, it was awesome. Seeing the cold water carve its way through sandstone and sagebrush was a bit awe-inspiring!

east walker river nevada

Desert Beauty!


As we started fishing, one thing became apparent. I was having what Mike lovingly called “a rookie day”. It seemed like every cast I was getting rats nest tangles in my leader and causing a good chunk of our time to be spent unraveling the mess. To top it off, the fishing was slow. Only a couple of strikes and no fish to hand in the morning. I still really enjoyed walking the river and talking to Mike. We got to watch a big bald eagle soaring overhead looking for food. He was probably hoping one of us would hook a fish so he could snatch it from us.

At around 12:30 or 1, we both decided we better take a lunch break. I could tell that Mike wanted us to get into some nice fish and I can’t say I disagreed! Mike had brought the works with him. A camp stove, some polish sausages, potato salad, and all the fixings.

lunch on the river

Our lunch spot.


When we had finished our lunch, we both felt a renewed sense of resolve to get into some fish. We get down to the river and find a really fishy run. The first cast through the run and Mike hooks into a beautiful little wild brown. Alright, now we’re talking!

wild brown trout nevada

First fish of the day.


I started fishing the next run down and also hooked a fish. A rainbow this time. Mike told me to keep fishing that run trying to get the same drift again because it looked like a good spot for the fish to stack up a little. Sure enough, another rainbow.

The fishing has officially surpassed the scenery at this point!

desert beauty

Although, the scenery is still pretty epic!

Up until this point, the fish were mostly taking nymphs. The idea of coming out here was to try and get some on dries since the skwala hatch was on. I switched to a dry dropper rig and kept fishing some long runs. I had one drift that felt perfect from the moment it started and it resulted in a really beautiful brown in the 16-18 inch range.

wild brown trout nevada

One of the best browns I’ve caught!

When all was said and done, I don’t really know how many fish we caught, but it was a really good day. I caught two fish on dry flies, one was on a PMD and the other on a good sized skwala. Even though the morning started out really slow, things picked up in a way that really made both Mike and I satisfied.

If you’re ever looking to explore the deserts of Northern Nevada for trout, Mike Curtis of Bucking Trout Outfitters is a great guide to talk to and fish with. He was not only helpful in finding fish, but he was also a great teacher and refrained from mocking me too harshly when I kept getting tangled in the morning. haha

Mike is reachable at (775)997-3673. Here’s a few more pictures to finish things out.

wild rainbow trout nevada

Another pretty rainbow.


mike curtis bucking trout

Mike Curtis. The man himself!


east walker river nevada

Just beautiful!


As the sun went down, the color of everything changed.


The walk back to the truck when the fishing was done.


what a day

What a day!

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