Beauty and danger: Staying safe on Pyramid Lake
With an abundant amount of trout and gorgeous views, Pyramid Lake during fishing season can be a little getaway. But authorities want to remind everyone visiting the lake that as beautiful as it can be, it can also be equally dangerous.
Fishing season on the lake kicked off with members of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Emergency Services responding to four calls of distressed boats simultaneously. Two of the reports were of capsized boats, Pyramid Lake Fire and Rescue emergency response coordinator Don Pelt said.
No fatalities were reported over the weekend, but one person was taken to the hospital and was treated for hypothermia, Pelt said.
“This is a lake that needs to be taken seriously," Bob Harmon, spokesman for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, said.
“This weekend highlighted how dangerous Pyramid Lake can be,” Harmon said. “Luckily there were no fatalities, but there have been in the past.”
Look for warning signs
Two fishermen went missing near Reno on New Year’s Day, and their bodies were found by a diving team in February. A Nevada guardsman died in a boating accident at the lake in February. In August of last year, a Sparks man drowned after falling over a drop-off walking along the beach.
Conditions on the lake can change rapidly, and the water in the lake will only be getting colder, both Pelt and Harmon said.
“People out on the water, just know the weather can suddenly change, and suddenly you’re out there in a treacherous situation,” Harmon said.
Pelt said to watch the north end of the lake near the Needles.
“If you see dust blowing across the water near the Needles, know that’s a good indicator to head back in,” Pelt said. “The weather conditions are about to change.”
Prep for any condition
Pelt also suggested anyone heading to the area bring life jackets, flares and radios, and to charge cellphones before leaving.
“We always want people to be safe,” Pelt said. “If you’re in a boat, wear your life jacket. They may not make you look good or be glamorous or anything, but they help keep you safe. …Life jackets are a must.”
Pelt suggested that no one goes out on the lake alone and for smaller boats to stay near shore.
If anyone is in a situation on or near Pyramid Lake, Pelt said to call 911 immediately.
“911 gets us the most resources going,” Pelt said. “Our fire and emergency boats and Washoe’s special unit boats all get going. By calling 911, we get more resources and can get to you faster.”
Fishing season is open on Pyramid Lake Oct. 1 through May 31.