Fishing at Milton Reservoir

One of the most picturesque fishing lakes in our region is Milton Reservoir northwest of Truckee. It is located below Jackson Meadows Reservoir on a dirt road that takes off to the right before crossing the dam.


Milton Reservoir from a recent Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers outing. | Dean McKay

The Middle Fork of the Yuba River that comes out of Jackson Meadows Reservoir provides the water for Milton. Because the water comes out of the bottom of the dam, it is cool, making it a great place to fish in the hot summer months. Expect water temperatures in the low to mid-50s.


“It is ideal for fly-fishers using pontoon boats, rafts and small prams.”


Since it is a small lake, no motors are permitted. It is ideal for fly-fishers using pontoon boats, rafts and small prams. A person using a float tube can easily kick from one end of the lake to the other.

The lake is open during the regular trout season from the last Saturday in April through Nov. 15. The maximum size limit is 12 inches in total; two fish up to 12 inches may be kept. It is restricted to only artificial lures with barbless hooks. No bait is allowed.

Don’t expect too many large fish. Most fish will be in the 10- to 14-inch range. Milton once held some sizeable fish, but it seems that there has been a significant amount of poaching. We have had reports of people snowmobiling into the lake and fishing during the winter through the ice and early season after ice out.

There are abundant hatches throughout the season. The most targeted of these is the Callibaetis mayfly hatch. This usually begins to happen between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is quite consistent. The duration can vary from a half hour to two or three hours, depending on the weather.

Callibaetis patterns should match the size of the adults on the water. Early season hatches can be as large as a size No. 14 and progressively get smaller during the season. The fall Callibaetis can be a size No. 18.

Prior to the Callibaetis hatch, stripping nymphs, such as the pheasant tail or more exacting Callibaetis pattern, on an intermediate line will work well. Then once the hatch begins and the fish begin feeding on the adults, you can go to the surface.

If you are fishing early or late, try small midge patterns. Patterns, such as Zebra Midge and WD-40s in size No. 20 and smaller, are good ones to try. The best colors are black, red, brown and olive.

There is limited primitive camping available at Milton. Go back up to Jackson Meadows where you will find many Forest Service campgrounds if you intend to stay overnight.




Boca Reservoir | Inflow is at 29 cfs and the outflow is 284 cfs. Powerbait, nightcrawlers and lures are all working. Fly-fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet with nymphs, streamers and dries.

Donner Lake | Fishing has been fair to good. Kokanee fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait for trout. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | 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 anglers use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is at 28 cfs. I think this is too low for fishing. Try a dry dropper rig if you must fish.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery here.

Prosser Lake | Fishing has been fair to good. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing has been fair.

Stampede Reservoir | Fishing has been slow; not too many reports. Nightcrawlers, Powerbait and lures have all produced from shore. Fly-fishers have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers. The Kokanee fishing has been pretty poor. Smallmouth bass fishing has been fair.

Truckee River | It is not flowing out of the lake at Tahoe City. The flows through Truckee are at 63 cfs. Carry a thermometer and keep an eye on water temperatures. Consider fishing an alternative water when it gets more than 64 degrees. Crayfish, caddis and streamers are working. Hoppers are also beginning to show. This water is special regulation, artificial only with a barbless hook. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are slowing down with warmer temperatures. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching a few fish. Reports from Davis Lake are only fair. Frenchman Lake fishing has slowed, as well. Give these waters a rest until fall brings cooler temperatures.


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