Truckee River

Although there is good fishing in the small upper Truckee above Lake Tahoe near South Lake Tahoe, the major fishing occurs below Lake Tahoe between Tahoe City and Reno. Access to this river is easy since it follows California Highway 89 and Interstate 80 along its entire length. Eventually the Truckee empties into Pyramid Lake, but this is another story.

There is an excellent StreamTime Fishing Access Map that covers every hole and access point in detail from Tahoe City to Reno. In general one will be fishing riffles and pocket water sometimes for miles at a time. This is not a river to fish to death in one spot. There is plenty of room and one should keep moving until one finds some agreeable fish. Below I'll give a brief overview of the major sections.

First of all, below Lake Tahoe one should take a quick sightseeing stop at Fanny bridge at the Tahoe outlet gates. There are large numbers of "pet" rainbows in the 5+ lb variety just below the bridge, but no fishing is allowed in the first 1000' below the lake. Following highway 89 north there are a number of turnouts on the left side of the road that offer passable fishing. The problem with this water is the noisy road that is just above where you fish. Also this is primarily a put and take fishery although I have caught some browns here that survived the drought. Nonetheless there is a very pleasant beaver meadow just above the River Ranch that is particularly nice in the evenings for dry fly action.

The latest news is that the Department of Fish and Game has planted some 30,000 Lahontan Cutthroat in the 12 miles below Lake Tahoe (2500 per mile or one every two feet). The fish were planted at 4" in length but should soon begin to offer some good sport or some good feed to the resident browns. The hope is that they will repopulate the river of their origins- see the Pyramid Lake page for more history. The picture in the header of this page is a large specimen from Pyramid Lake.

Just after the turn off to Alpine Meadows you pass over the river and it takes on a consistent gradual descent with riffles and pocket water all the way to Truckee. There are a number of obvious public access points in this area although there are also vacation homes on the river to avoid. Nonetheless one can easily escape anglers by parking in turnouts without cars and working upstream. This area was completely dry in many places during the drought and will take some time to fully recover.

Just before highway 89 goes under the railroad in Truckee take a right turn down West River Street. Just as you turn right Donner Creek enters and adds flow to the river. Access to this urban angling experience is best obtained on the far bank that can be reached by crossing the bridge at highway 267 and moving either up or downstream.

The next area is Trophy Trout "special regs" area from Trout Creek to the Boca Bridge below Boca Reservoir. Major access to this fine area is along Glenshire Road and the railroad on the north bank of the Truckee. Watch out as you cross the Truckee again because you hit private land (the Flycasters) without easy access except from a few places off Interstate 80. Legal spots to fish downstream from this area are well marked along Interstate 80; illegal spots guarantee a visit from the Highway Patrol.

There is still plenty of fishing below the special regs area. The old bridge in the metropolis of Hirschdale provides access to the north bank and miles of fishing some of it quite wild. This area is subject to fast and deep water depending upon reservoir release and should be approached with caution when wading. Also above Boca Reservoir is the Little Truckee with one of the prettiest meadows around to fish in -- though fishing can be very thin at times due to changes in reservoir flow. When in doubt, caddis on the surface and in the form of nymphs are the basic ticket. Ninety percent of the fishing is likely to be strike indicator work.

Story and photos by Jerry Yesavage

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