Licenses are required in California and Nevada for 16 years and older. Temporary licenses are available. California (916) 928-5822 or dfg.ca.gov; Nevada (866) 703-4605 or ndow.org. Licenses are available at most hardware stores.
California Department of Fish and Game holds Free Fishing Days on July 2 and Sept. 3, with Nevada’s Free Fishing Day on June 11.
Fishing is closed in Lake Tahoe within 300 feet of its tributaries and upstream to the first lake from Oct. 1 to June 30. Lake Tahoe is open year-round from 1 hour before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset. No fishing is allowed within 300 feet of the mouth of any stream. Most Sierra lakes are open all year.
No fish may be used for bait or possessed for use as bait in Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake or Donner Lake, unless taken from that lake. Live bait in these lakes is limited to: Lahontan redside shiner, Tui chub, Tahoe sucker, Lahontan mountain sucker, Piute sculpin and Lahontan speckled dace. Chumming is illegal. There is a two-fish limit on Mackinaws, and a limit of five fish on Lake Tahoe.
Avoid fishing during times of mirror-like calm, unless fishing deep for Mackinaw. Even a slight surface riffle will break up shadows on the bottom and will partially obliterate the angler from view. Use a light monofilament line. Use long line for trolling or make long casts if fishing from shore.
Fishing for Rainbows from the shore is best May through July. If you’re on the North Shore, the Kings Beach and Lake Forest areas are planted throughout the summer. Cave Rock on the East Shore of the lake is a good location for Rainbow and Brown.
Just a short drive off of Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe, try both boat and shore fishing here. Shore fishing is usually good from the dam. Please respect the rights of private property and homeowners around the lake.
Fallen Leaf Lake
The best fishing is from a boat, but occasionally fish can be taken from the shore with a good cast. The lake is a short walk from Fallen Leaf Lake Road or Fallen Leaf Campground. Fishing within 250 feet of the dam is illegal.
A stocked pond for children 15 years of age and younger. Adults are allowed to help children fish, but not allowed to fish themselves. The pond is located 1 mile south of South Lake Tahoe along Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Spooner Lake is managed as a trophy fishery at Spooner Lake State Park on the East Shore. It is open all year for catch and keep, with a limit of five trout. Rowboats, inflatable rafts and float tubes may be used, but no motorized boats.
Upper Truckee River
The Upper Truckee is fed from the waters of Meiss Country south of Highway 89 in South Lake Tahoe. Fishing is good in the deep pools during the early part of fishing season.
Boca is good for early and late shore fishing and is popular for trolling for Rainbow, Brown and Brook.
Brown and Rainbow can be expected when shore fishing with good spots at the boat ramp or the west end of the beach. Mackinaws can be found in the shallows during the early season.
Martis Creek Reservoir
Rainbow, Brown and Lahontan cutthroat trout. Catch and release only using artificial lures with barbless hooks and no bait. No motorized boats.
Prosser Creek Reservoir
Among the best trout fishing in California, especially for Rainbow and Brown.
Holds a large number of trophy class Rainbow and Brown trout. Shore fishing nets Browns and Rainbow, with Kokanee when trolling.
At Lake Tahoe’s only outlet in Tahoe City, fishing is closed year-round from the dam in Tahoe City to 1,000 feet downstream. Certain other sections of the Truckee are closed year-round. Check fishing regulations.
Fish the deep pools during the early part of the season. Best bets are to fish the section of the river between Tahoe City and River Ranch (Hwy. 89 and Alpine Meadows Road).
There are more than 20,000 surface acres of lakes and more than 1,500 miles of streams and rivers to fish in the Tahoe National Forest. Fish early in the morning or just before dusk, when the fish are feeding on the surface close to shore. There are 23 species of fish in the Tahoe region, 15 of which are considered game fish.
The lakes are stocked with fingerlings that grow to catchable size. It is illegal to use minnows for bait in mountain lakes and streams.
The Fly Fishing Center at Resort at Squaw Creek offers instruction from the basics to guided trips led by certified instructor Matt Heron. Anglers can learn the fundamentals at the Resort’s private, trout-stocked pond; no fishing license is required. The pond is exclusively catch and release and is regularly stocked with trout up to 20 inches. Fly-fishing classes and excursions are offered, as well as instruction for all ages. (530) 583-6300
Sawmill Lake is a secluded 10-acre reservoir stocked with hundreds of bright, fighting Rainbow trout, and is reserved for catch and release fly-fishing only. Located at Northstar California, fishing is limited to four rods at a time. (530) 541-8208
For more information, contact U.S. Forest Service | fs.usda.gov