Tahoe's Best Blog

Where are the best fishing spots in Lake Tahoe?

Submitted on: 5/15/14 | by Lindsey Carlson
Imagen Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a premier fishing destination, offering both locals and visitors the opportunity to catch a wide range of game fish. The area offers ample opportunity to catch a trophy, bring home dinner, or just spend a relaxing day on the water. Exactly where and how you choose to fish should depend on the type of fish you’re looking to catch. Here’s a look at some of the area’s most popular hotspots.

Lake Tahoe

The obvious choice, Lake Tahoe is a massive 22 miles long, 12 miles across, and 72 miles around. If you don't have access to a boat, consider a charter – we recommend Tight Lines Guide Service and Action Water Sports of Incline Village Fishing Charter for the very best trips and rates. Deep trolling for mackinaw (schools can run in depths beyond 200 feet) is a very popular and successful option on Lake Tahoe, and there are also populations of rainbow and brown trout, as well as Kokanee salmon. Fishing from shore, you can have success catching rainbow trout from areas with shelves that provide you with access to deeper water.

Sawmill Pond

Sawmill Pond is located 1 mile South of Lake Tahoe, and is the ideal family fishing destination. Sawmill Pond is a “no adults allowed” fishing area, so while they're allowed to help children aged 15 years and younger, they’re not allowed to fish on their own.

Donner Lake

Donner Lake is located in Donner Memorial State Park, the historic area associated with the doomed pioneers in the Donner Party. Now in happier times, Donner Lake is a hotspot featuring a thriving population of brown and rainbow trout. Simply casting a worm or a flasher from the shore will nearly guarantee you a good day of fishing, but jigging for mackinaw at depths just past 100 feet is another way to find success.

Boca Reservoir

More of the best shore fishing in the region can be found at the Boca Reservoir, which is just 2 miles North of Boca on Stampede Dam Rd off I-80. Trout from a nearby dam and inlet can be lured in exceptionally well using inflated nightcrawlers, but salmon eggs are a popular baiting option too. Trolling is common, but low water levels can make it nearly impossible to launch larger boats. If you’re a fan of fly fishing, hit Boca at sunrise for some for some great action.

Truckee River

Fly fishing is exceptionally popular on the Truckee River. It runs along I-80 and California Highway 89, and the best spot to fish is between Tahoe City and River Ranch. Except some great catch here, especially early in the season, as the Department of Fish and Game regularly stocks this area in spring months.

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Stampede Reservoir

If you’re the type who enjoys postcard picturesque scenery with your fishing (and who isn’t?), the Stampede Reservoir is the place to go. Located about 15 miles North of Truckee, it sits at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet and hosts trophy-size rainbow and brown trout, both of which you’re likely to catch in the course of a day spent here. Prime spots include the area around the boat launch, as well as the cove along shoreline. The only potential hindrance here is the severely reduced water level in late summer, so it’s best to visit this hotspot earlier in the year.

Prosser Creek Reservoir

Located about 40 miles West of Reno, the Prosser Creek Reservoir is claimed by locals to host some of the best brown and rainbow trout fishing in all of California. Indeed, this reservoir always seems to provide both locals and visitors alike with a quality day of fishing. The enjoyment of a successful day here is further enhanced by its natural beauty – the serene waters and tree-lined shores make for a sublime and relaxing experience.

Caples Lake

Caples Lake is an excellent destination fishing spot. It’s lined with a resort and RV sites, as well as a convenient bait & tackle store. Located about 60 miles East of Jackson, directly South of Lake Tahoe, it sits at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet and has 600 surface acres of pristine mountain water. Boat rentals are available on the lake as well, and while anglers are limited to trout, there are more than enough rainbow, brown, brook, and cutthroat to make for a great trip.

Things to Keep in Mind

As anywhere, there are regulations that must be observed when fishing in the Lake Tahoe area. A fishing license is necessary, and it is important to observe the bag limits and seasonal constraints when fishing any given area. The specific limitations vary from spot to spot, many in the Lake Tahoe area allow a maximum of 5 trout with no more than 2 mackinaw; however, others are strictly catch & release.

If you’re fishing in a catch & release area, or simply fishing for sport with the intent to catch & release, be sure to pinch the barbs on your hooks to prevent causing harm to the fish. Pinching barbs is simple, and requires only that you take a pair of pliers and push the barb down into the hook so as to prevent it from catching on the mouth of the fish. It’s easy to do, and makes a difference in keeping Lake Tahoe’s magnificent fish happy and healthy as they are returned to the water.

For specific information about bag limits, seasonal restrictions, boating restrictions and more, pick up a copy of the current fishing regulations for information. You’ll find them at any store in which fishing licenses are sold, and they’ll help keep you out of trouble as you enjoy the sport.

For a map of fishing areas in Lake Tahoe