Discovering the Story Behind the World Record Cutthroat Trout: Caught in Pyramid Lake Almost 100 Years Ago

The world record cutthroat is 41 lb 0 oz. It was caught by John Skimmerhorn using conventional tackle in Pyramid Lake, Nevada, USA way back on the 01-Dec-1925.

You will find Pyramid Lake featured on the map below and it is resposnible for a lot of world record cutthroats and is the best place to head for anglers wanting to catch a big cutthroat trout.

The Story Behind The Current World Record Cutthroat

Since the current world record was caught close to 100 years ago, there is very little infortamtion about the story behind the giant cutthroat trout caught in 1925 in Pyramid Lake.

All we know is that the fish was caught on conventional tackle and not fly fishing and I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess as to the lures or bait being used in 1925.

There is, however, an interesting story about the giant cutthroat trout that you can find in Pyramid Lake, Nevada today. Let’s start by looking at this trout species first though.

About Cutthroat Trout

About Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat trout are a part of the Salmonidae family and they are close relatives to rainbow trout. Cutthroat trout get their name from the yellow, red, or orange streak that they have on their lower jaw.

Cutthroat trout are often described as yellowstone cutthroat trout, Clark’s trout, red throated trout, and many more common names.

They naturally occure in western north america and are native to the rivers, streams and lakes of westrn canada and the united states but have be transported across the world and can be found in Quebec as well as other states in the U.S.

There are quite a few subspecies of cutthroat trout and the two that grow the biggest are the anadromaduse cutthroat trout that go to sea to feed like stealhead and salmon and the lahontan cutthroat trout.

It is the lahontan cutthroat trout that you find in Pyramid Lake but Lahontan cutthroats have had a bit of a torrid past.

The Story Of The World Record Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Lahontan cutthroat trout have a native range of the streams and tributaries of Lake Lahontan, an old ice lake that Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe were a part of as well as the Truckee, Humboldt, Carson, Walker, and Quinn Rivers.

In the old days before World War II lahontan cutthroats were over fished and their populations fell hard.

The particualr lahontan cutthroat trout in Pyramid Lake were finally declared extinct after their spawning habitat, the Truckee river was dammed so the lahontan cutthroat trout could no longer reproduce.

Non native rainbow trout, lake trout, and brook trout were also introduced to the Lahontan habitats and that also caused the trout’s exctiction. But thanks to human intervention, that was not the end of the Lahontan cutthroat trout.

The Lahontan Cutthroat’s Reintroduction

The first reintroduction effort of this subspecies of cutthroat trout dates back to the 1907s when the Paiute Tribe started stocking Pyramid Lake with Summit Lake strain Lahontans. But these particular lahontan cutthroat trout didn’t grow as big and luckily a discovery was made that changed everything.

The Lahontan Cutthroat's Reintroduction

Towards the end of 1970s two Paiute brothers caled the cliffs around the Truckee river system and found pools of Pyramid lake cutthroat trout on the border of Nevada and Utah.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tribal fisheries biologists confirmed small populations of the thought-to-be-extinct Pyramid strain lahontan cutthroat trout. The first eggs were harvested and then in 2006 the Lahontan national fish hatchery began restocking Pyramid Lake Strain.

Since the restocking of Pyramid Lake by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Lahontan cutthroat trout have boomed and anglers have caught large specimens that prove the programs success.

How Many World Record Cutthroats Have Come From Pyramid Lake?

Considering that the Lahontan cutthroats are the biggest subspecies of cutthroat trout on the planet, it would make sense that most of the world records have been caught there.

Of the thirty one records held for cutthroat trout twenty eight of them were caught in Pyramid Lake, and most of them between 2014 and 2022. All the fish weighed more than 5 lbs with an average of 10-15 lbs.

Where Else Have Record Cutthroat Trout Been Caught?

Salmon Region, Idaho, USA

The women’s 2 lb line class world record for cutthroat trout was caught in the Salmon Region of Idaho by Huan Zhou on the 21-Jul-2020. This fish, unlike most of the other records was not a Lahontan cutthroat hence why it only weighed 3 lbs.

A 3lb cutthroat trout is a big fish when it comes to cutthroats outside of the lake systems where they grow to bigger sizes.

Lochsa River, Enterprise, Idaho, USA

The women’s 2 lb tippet class world record on fly for cutthroat trout was also caught in Idaho and in the Lochsa River. It is the smallest record cutthroat trout in the directory and weighed just 1 lb 6 oz and was caught by angler Emily Branigan.

Idaho clearly has some solid sized cutthroats in the rivers there so you might want to consider it for an idaho trout fishing trip.

Thayne, Wyoming, USA

The women’s 6 lb tippet class world record on fly for cutthroat trout was caught in Thayne, Wyonming and it was a big cutthroat for being one that wasn’t caught it Pyramid Lake.

Hadley Jane Dickinson landed a 10 lb 8 oz cutthroat while fly fishing which is a pretty amazing accomplishment. So if you’re set on going trout fishing wyoming, you might be the next one to catch a world record!


What is the biggest cutthroat trout ever caught?

The biggest cutthroat trout ever caught was a 41-pound, 8-ounce fish that was caught in Pyramid Lake in Nevada in 1925.

What happened to the Lahontan cutthroat trout in Pyramid Lake?

The Lahontan cutthroat trout population in Pyramid Lake, Nevada, has been reduced significantly due to a combination of factors, including overfishing, habitat degradation, and competition from non-native species. The Nevada Department of Wildlife is currently conducting research and management efforts to restore the Lahontan cutthroat trout population in Pyramid Lake.

What is the biggest cutthroat trout caught in America?

The biggest cutthroat trout caught in America was a 41-pound, 8-ounce fish that was caught in Pyramid Lake in Nevada in 1925.

How Do I Catch The Giant Cuttys In Pyramid Lake?

How Do I Catch The Giant Cuttys In Pyramid Lake

Now that you have disovered where all the world record cuttys live, you’re going to need to know how to catch them.

The first step to fishing Pyramid Lake well is to be there when it is cloudy and windy. Now, this isn’t usually the weather you want when fishing a lake for trout but it turns the fish in Pyramid Lake on,

When the wind blows it creates a big chop and this stirs up the bottom releasing a ton of food and this is when the trout move in. Cloud cover is also important as the trout go deeper when the expereince direct sunlight as they have no eye lids.

Another interesting tactic for Pyramid Lake trout is fishing from a step ladder. The step ladder allows you to wade in to much deeper parts of the lake and take you out of the cold water.

What Flies Work Well On Pyramid Lake?

There are three types of flies you need on this lake and this includes streamers, beatles, amd midges. The double digit trout in this lake feed on everything from small fish to leaches and insects.

A woolly bugger is a great streamer to start off with, especially the Midnight Cowboy in size 2-6. Combine this fly with a popcorn beetle behind and you will find it works very well.

Midge flies in sizes 16 to 6 are also needed, and make sure there are a lot of them in size 12. You should also make sure that the midges are flashy as the trout in the lake love it.

Make sure your flies are heavily weighted all the way to no wieght at all. This will allow you to fish all the different depths the trout might be feeding at.

What Gear Will I Need On Pyramid Lake?

It’s best to fish with a 7 weight fly rod as the fish are big! You should also carry a floating line for fishing the midges as well as a sinktip fly line for the big streamers so you can get the flies down deep to the big double digit fish waiting.

See the IGFA Record here.

Photo of author

Jamie Melvin

Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.

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