Truckee River
by Jerry Yesavage
( )

The above fish is what used to live in the Truckee River, a Lahontan Cutthroat trout. This one was put back into Pyramid Lake where they now live. Read below to hear about the great fishing that is available there and the plans for Fish and Game to bring this back back. Read also about the plans of some to degrade this fishery with the addition of an unnecessary dam. This page was first posted in about 7/95 so there are a few mentions of the old drought (circa early 90s) and a few comments about how things have changed or not over the past 13 years.

Although there is some 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.

Ralph Cutter published a synopsis of the hatches of the Truckee and this is included in the StreamTime guide, which appears to be no longer available.

BUT, BIG NEWS, has been re-edited by Brian at Swigart's Hardware and availble direct from him. The new 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. You can go into the park on the south (road to South Shore) side of the river and find your way over 1000' downstream and fish there. Often seem to be a lot of plants there. In the 13 years since I first wrote this the fishing in this area has deteriorated drastically. With all of the boat traffic (rafts) the rafters act like cattle do in Wyoming and break down the stream banks. This results is a shallower river (ultimately hurting the rafters) and a warm lousy fish environment.

The latest news (this was a couple years ago!) 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 (they - the cuts- are gone now 10/00 but the Browns may still be found). DFG is following up on this success by planning even more plants!! The hope (fantasy) was 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. In 2008 there are big plans for reintroduction in the Upper Truckee by South Shore. Here DFG is learning from past failures and clearing out the river before planting. A solid idea.

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. The fast water right after Alpine Meadows is popular, but well-oxgenated compared to the water above.

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. There is good acess and much fishing near where Donner Creek comes in.

In the Fall of 2009 due to drought conditions there is no flow from Lake Tahoe and very poor flow in Truckee itself.

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. (This area continues to be hit hard, but there are fish there, well-educated, down deep, and hidden). 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 (I fished this 10/00 and there were very few fish and many anglers after it obtained it Special Regs. status -- see the signs posted). Since I wrote this the special regulations have been strengthened with an improvement in the fishing, but also a major increase in the traffic of anglers, especialy guided anglers. Lastly there is a "trophy" region in Nevada just across the border about which the Reno Fly Shop can inform you.

Little Truckee Brown Low Resolution

The same exit from Hirschdale is the exit that leads past Boca to the Little Truckee. This area itself should have a web page but it is now hit so hard that I could not bring myself to write too much. I would like to say that the above fish was caught here about 5 years ago before a small barrier was placed on the Little Truckee above Boca... note the reel is 3" wide... the rationale for this barrier escapes me, but it has prevented large fish coming up from the Lake and replenishing the stream.

A phone call to the shops listed below can fill you in about what's happening. When in doubt, caddis on the surface and in the beadhead form of nymphs are the basic ticket. Ninety percent of the fishing is likely to be strike indicator work. Streamers in the Fall can also be a wild trip.

Flies, supplies and lies can be obtained from:

Mountain Hardware & Sports, Truckee 530-587-4844
Reno Fly Shop, Reno 702-825-FISH and locally Truckee River Outfitters 530-582-0900
Brian at Swigard's Hardware, Tahoe City 530-583-3738

Local Guide Services:

Mountain Hardware & Sports, Truckee 530-587-4844
Randy Johnson's Johnson's Tackle and Guide Service 530-525-6575 (summer) 415-453-9831 (winter)
Ralph & Lisa Cutter's Calif. School of Flyfishing 530-587-7005
Frank Pisciotta's Thy Rod & Staff Guide Service 530-587-7333
Reno Fly Shop, Reno 702-825-FISH Truckee River Outfitters 530-582-0900

Updated 8/20/08/11/26/10

small brown

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