Fall fishing outlook

With cooler nights, the feeling of fall is in the air. As summer wanes, local anglers know that the productive fall season is nearly on us.


While local streams have water in them, flows in some are not the best for fishing. Waters, such as the Little Truckee below Stampede Reservoir, are only running a mere 30 cfs. Spawning brown trout and kokanee salmon will soon begin to show in this water, as well. It is best to leave this stream to the fish. At this water level, the fish do not need additional stress.

The Truckee River is in better shape in the stretch below Boca Reservoir to the state line. The river from Tahoe City through Truckee should be avoided if possible. The water is pretty low. It begins to pick up below Prosser Creek, but the best fishing should be below Boca this fall.


“Anglers that have not been fishing much during the warm
summer months have something to look forward to.”


Local lakes and reservoirs are also beginning to cool off. Typically, after Labor Day, things begin to heat up with the water beginning to cool. As we get deeper into fall, the fish will begin to feed voraciously as they sense the change in the season.

Anglers that have not been fishing much during the warm summer months have something to look forward to. Fall fishing is the best fishing of the season, according to many experts.

Lakes and reservoirs are great places to target. The cooler temperatures bring fish into shallow water making them accessible. This is different than the summer when they head to deeper water and are less accessible to those fishing from shore.

When fishing lakes during the fall, watercraft is not necessary because fish are in the shallows. Carefully fishing from shore and hunting fish in shallow water can be exciting. You are often sight fishing tiny midges or mayflies to these fish in water less than a foot deep.

If you are a fly-fisher, there is probably not a technique that will not work during this season. You can strip nymphs or streamers, use nymphs under an indicator or fish dry flies to actively rising fish. All methods will produce fish.

Fishing seems to get better right up until the lakes ice over. Some of our best days have been fishing when there is a layer of ice that we cast to and drop our flies off the edge. Hookups are almost instantaneous.

Do not forget to dress in layers. Morning and evenings will be cool, with daytime temperatures warm in some cases. We always seem to have an Indian summer in the early fall.


lakelevelsBoca Reservoir | Inflow is at 30 cfs and the outflow is 303 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 30 cfs. This is too low to fish. With the water at this level, it is best to avoid this water.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and Release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is the best in the fall. There are still a few nice fish in this lake. Smallmouth bass are now also part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir | Fishing has been fair. The lake level is rapidly dropping. 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. There are still not many reports from this water. 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 poor to those getting out. Smallmouth bass fishing has been fair to good.

Truckee River | It is not flowing out of the lake at Tahoe City. The flows through Truckee are at 84 cfs. Cooler night temperatures are starting to cool the river down. Crayfish and small mayflies along with streamers are your best bet. Hoppers are also an option with a dropper. Best flows for fishing are below Boca Reservoir. This water is special regulation, artificial only with a barbless hook. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged in this section, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are begging to show signs of life with water beginning to cool. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching a few fish. Reports typically show improvement now.

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