By Bruce Ajari · 



In mid-May of this year, I had the opportunity to do something that has been on my bucket list of items related to fishing. I was invited to go on a trip to Shasta Lake to do a little fishing and stay on a houseboat. I accepted without hesitation.

I was fortunate to go with an experienced group who had been doing this trip for decades. There were six of us that participated and I knew three of the people well. The other two turned out to be just as great.

All expenses of the trip, the houseboat rental, gas and food were split equally. When split in this fashion, the trip is affordable. The four of us from the Tahoe area left early in the afternoon and drove to Redding where we stayed in a motel so we could get an early jump on getting our Houseboat rental. The houseboat, which was rented from the Silverthorn Resort on the east end of the lake, was available from 9 a.m. the next morning.

We awoke the next morning had a continental breakfast at the hotel, stopped for some ice and provisions. Then it was off to the lake to pick-up the houseboat. Our designated captain received his instructions from the marina staff and our two boats were launched in preparation for the start of our trip.

Once under way, we headed for the west end of the lake to the dam area where the other two participants would motor over in the boat to join us once the houseboat was moored. This trip took us two and half hours.

At the west end of the lake, the group targeted the landlocked King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, a.k.a.: Chinook) that inhabit this lake. Unlike ocean-going King Salmon that can attain sizes of more than 100 pounds, the landlocked version grows to a relatively small maximum size of around 5 to 6 pounds. Most that we caught were in the 2- to 4-lb. range.

The houseboat was our home for the next four nights. We took turns with the cooking, cleaning and household chores. While our houseboat was an economy model, it had bunks, two bathrooms, an equipped kitchen and dining area, as well as a fore and aft deck. One of guys in our group took his pad and sleeping bag and spent the first few nights on the roof.

What about the fishing? I will talk more about the fishing next week in part two of this trip.


(For water levels visit 

Boca | Inflow is at 260 cfs and the outflow is 260 cfs. Try powerbait or nightcrawlers. Throwing lures from shore also has been working. Fly fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet, mostly nymphing and with streamers.

Donner | Fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the bait of choice. Mackinaw and Kokanee fishing has been fair. Fly fishermen are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | Lake Tahoe Tributaries are closed to all fishing until July 1. The Lake within 300 feet of a Tributary also is closed. Tributaries are open July 1 to Sept. 30. Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore fishermen use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is now at a 260 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good. Keep an eye on the flows here. At the higher level, the LT fishes best with a large and small nymph combination. Anglers have been using SJW, Stoneflies, BWO and PMD imitations. Green Drakes have begun to show.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and Release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Some small cutthroats and an occasional large brown or rainbow may still be caught here. Smallmouth bass also have been introduced. Try fishing here before mid-June when the water typically warms up too much for trout.

Prosser | The lake is fishing fair to good. Powerbait and nightcrawlers are the best bait. Lure and fly-fishermen also are taking some fish from shore and near the inlets. Smallmouth Bass fishing is fair with surface water temperatures in the 65-degree range.

Stampede | Stampede continues to drop. Fishing has been fair to good from shore. Kokanee fishing has been good. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Smallmouth bass fishing is fair.

Truckee River | Flowing out of the lake at 252 cfs at Tahoe City. The flow through Truckee is at 300 cfs as of June 8. Fishing seems to be fluctuating like the flows in the river. Surface water temperatures are already in the 62-degree range. Fish have been caught on nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers. The water flows seem to be fluctuating a bit and staying on the high side. The water is still a little higher than I like for dry fly fishing. Craneflies, midges, caddisflies, PMD, BWO, March Brown and Green Drakes have been observed. An occasional termite hatch has been observed, as well. Your best bet is to nymph or streamer fish at these flows unless you see an active surface feeding fish.

Other Waters | Davis and Frenchman have been fair to good. I have heard surface water temperatures here are already in the 60-degree range. Fish are being caught on blood midge patterns and Callibaetis imitations. Streamers fished deep also can be productive. The famed damsel hatch at Davis has just begun. Try fishing the nymphal form of this insect.


Bruce is a long-time area fly fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.