Lake Tahoe is one of the cleanest lakes in the country and a major recreation destination for people trying to escape the summer heat and enjoy some time on the water. The Tahoe area hosts dozens of easily accessible fishing holes and a fantastic variety of trout, salmon, and bass, as well as plenty of other species to seek out.
Because Tahoe is both clean and vast, and close to large population areas, sport fishing is popular. Fishing Lake Tahoe itself is certainly possible, but the surrounding streams and tributaries are by far the easiest places to reel in dinner.
The Truckee River flows out of the western portion of Lake Tahoe. This is an easily accessible point to catch rainbow, brook and brown trout. Parking is easy to find, and a bicycle path even continues along this stretch. This fishing spot opens earlier in the year (April 3rd) than some other options on this list, but the river itself can get clogged with kayakers and rafters--so anglers are advised to plan their fishing trips for mornings or evenings.
At the south end of the lake is the major tributary of Taylor Creek, open from July 1 and extending into early fall, with a closing date of September 1. The waters here can be shallow during midsummer, but as the season draws to a close the salmon begin running. This is the time to visit and fish Taylor Creek. The rest of the season, fishing can be so-so but wildlife viewing is always excellent.
Also in the southern part of Lake Tahoe is the beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake, where cutthroat trout have recently been reintroduced. This area is spectacular and a great place to camp as well as fish. Rainbow and Mackinaw trout also swim here. Veterans to the area say that mornings and evenings are the ideal times to cast a line.
If the name sounds familiar, it is because the ill-fated Donner party passed this way. West of Truckee River on the north shore, you’ll be fishing a highlight of the Lake Tahoe area. You can expect to find and catch a huge variety of cold water fish at Donner Lake, including Makinaws, Browns, Rainbows, Kokanee and Brookies.
This river is large enough for more than one fishing hole. In the upper section, this tributary is a little less visited because it doesn’t always teem with fish. However, the fishing in the Truckee is generally going to be a good bet. The waters have some larger, wild specimens and you may be the sole person hip-high in this part of the river. The season runs from July 1 through September 30.
If you are a fan of lake fishing, Caples offers plenty of fish and a nice variety. Off highway 88, situated in the Mokelumne Wilderness Area, this lake is fully stocked and sizeable enough for boat rentals, with a few cabins nearby to boot.
Anglers do well with bait, flies or lures on these two rivers. Both are near each other, right off of highway 80, so this is a popular destination. Shore fishing, kayaking or canoeing are all popular ways to snag dinner. These rivers are known for 12-14 inch Browns and Rainbows, as well as the occasional Brookie.
On the California side, lies two rivers that are regularly stocked with Rainbow and Cutthroat trout. Brown trout are here as well but all are wild fish and should be catch-and-release only. This area is an excellent way to introduce new anglers to the sport and a prime territory for fly fishing.
These lakes can be accessed from highway 50 on the way to Sacramento, and are stocked with a wide variety of trout (at least five different species) plus Kokanee. Anglers use boats or cast a line from the steep shores leading into these scenic lakes. If you continue further into the Desolation Wilderness, there is plenty of fishing for wild species in the smaller lakes.
Lake Tahoe is so large that chartering a boat will feel like a trip on the ocean; without the giant swells. Numerous boat charters are easy to schedule here. This type of fishing is a true luxury, plus it’s a great way to get family involved and to go fishing without hauling all of your own gear. Out in the middle of Lake Tahoe, depths reach down 200 feet. By hiring a charter guide you’ll be paying for all the specialized knowledge and gear your heart desires.
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