Stampede Reservoir fishing

Stampede Reservoir, northeast of Truckee, was constructed in 1970 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation primarily for fishery enhancement for the spawning of the endangered Cui-ui, a native fish of Pyramid Lake in Nevada.

Stampede Reservoir from the boat ramp looking toward the dam. | Bruce Ajari

Stampede Reservoir holds 226,500 acre feet of water when full. The surrounding land is part of the Tahoe National Forest and it provides recreational opportunity for locals and vacationers. There are 201 improved campsites in the Logger Loop Campground along with four group sites at the Emigrant Group Campground.

Stampede Reservoir is an excellent lake for fishing. It has been most notable for the Kokanee … and large brown trout.

Local and out-of-town anglers know that Stampede Reservoir is an excellent lake for fishing. It has been most notable for the Kokanee, which are landlocked sockeye salmon, and large brown trout. In the mid-1980s, Mackinaw were also introduced by the Department of Fish and Game in an attempt to control the populations of trash fish. An illegal introduction of smallmouth bass sometime in the late 1990s created a viable fishery for these fish.

The lake reached a low level last year at just above 30,000 acre feet. This spring it filled to a level of 103,500 acre feet. It currently sits at 88,767 acre feet as of press time on Aug. 12. Be aware, when it reaches this level, boat launching can be restricted to smaller car-type boats and watercraft.

While Kokanee are typically small, in the 11- to 13-inch range at most locations, Stampede has produced fish in the 20-inch and larger range. The size depends on the amount of food and the number of fish that are planted each year.

Brown trout fishers, such as the Brown Baggers that target fish more than 10 lbs., know that this lake is home to some large brown trout. Many believe that this lake could produce a state record brown trout, exceeding the 26-lb., 8-oz. fish caught in 1987 in Twin Lakes near Bridgeport.

The lake trout fishing has also gotten to be good. Fish in the double digits are being caught each year, including rainbow trout.

The Kokanee and trout provide great angling in the spring and fall. During the summer months, when the water warms, the smallmouth bass are plentiful.

The smallmouth in Stampede are established. Our largest weighed specimen tipped the scale at 4.5 lbs.

If you are going, be aware that the in next couple of years, construction to raise the existing dam and dike 11.5 feet will be in progress. (See Wet ‘n’ Dirty in this issue for details.)

For more information, call the Truckee Ranger District at (530) 587-3558 or visit



Boca Reservoir | Inflow is at 45 cfs and the outflow is 257 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 fair. 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 45 cfs. At this water level, fishing will be tougher. Try a dry dropper rig.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. There are still a few nice fish in this lake. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery here.

Prosser Reservoir | 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 fair from shore. The lake level is dropping pretty fast as more water is being released. 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 fair to good. 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 90 cfs. Keep an eye on water temperatures now. Carry a thermometer and check it. Consider fishing alternative water when it gets over 64 degrees. Crayfish, caddis and streamers are working. Hoppers are also beginning to show. This water is special regulation, artificial only with barbless hooks. 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 are only fair. Frenchman fishing has slowed. 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.