Fishing in thunderstorms

We have had a warm summer this year and some great thunderstorms that are typical of the summer months.

Courtesy Bruce Ajari

While thunder and lightning can be disconcerting for the angler, the associated rain is a welcome relief for our area waters. It provides nice cooling for our waterways during the warmest time of year.

Fishing can be good during rain events, but do not hesitate to get off the water at the first sign of thunder and lightning.

We have had good fishing during thunderstorms. The rain generally raises the water level slightly and even makes the water off color. Generally, these rises and color do no affect the fishing.

Fish become a little less wary when the water rises and the higher water dislodges aquatic insects. The fish tend to feed freely. Streamer and nymphs are excellent ways for the fly-fisher to approach events such as this.

There have been numerous times where the fishing has been off the charts during thunderstorms. The one caveat is that anglers really need to be aware of the lightning associated with the rain event.

A graphite rod is not the best thing to be waving around during a thunderstorm. Being in the middle of a lake doing so makes risks even worse. Please wait until the thunder and lightning pass and it is only raining or it has stopped raining before fishing.

We have had a close call or two in our fishing career. Once we actually got shocked off the graphite rod due to a buildup of electricity around us.

We found out later just how close we were to getting fried that day. The discharge can be from the ground up, as well as from the clouds downward. The fact that we were getting shocked was a warning that we were close to a full discharge occurring.

Once we discovered just how close we were to getting hit, we became overly cautious about thunder and lightning. We would advise that you do the same. A healthy respect for anything that Mother Nature brings is extremely important.

Fishing can be good during rain events, but do not hesitate to get off the water at the first sign of thunder and lightning.

As stated earlier, nymphing and streamer fishing can be good when waters rise and get a bit off color. If it does not rain too hard, there is also a great chance that you can experience a nice hatch.

We have had occasions in the fall where a nice Blue Winged Olive hatch has occurred during these rain events. Because of the cloud cover, the hatch often proceeds for a longer time frame. The result is that an angler can fish to rising fish for a longer time.


Boca Reservoir | The road over the dam is closed until further notice. Inflow is at 131 cfs and the outflow is 176 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 to good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | All tributaries are open to fishing until 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 anglers use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is at 131 cfs. This flow is up slightly from last week. Nymphing and dries should both work at this level. Dry dropper rigs are also recommended. Hatches are similar to the main Truckee.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is best early in the season and the fall. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir | Fishing has been fair. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Stampede Reservoir | The road will be closed over the dam through 2018. Access to the boat ramp will be through the Hobart Mills side. Fishing has been fair from shore. 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 is still producing for those in the know. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Truckee River | The flow out of the dam in Tahoe City is at 72 cfs. The flows through Truckee are at 213 cfs. Fishing has been fair for those working hard. Hatches are beginning to wane. Blue Winged Olives should be the major hatch in the fall. Grasshoppers are still available. Crayfish imitations and streamers are still accounting for some large fish. Water temperatures should begin to cool as we get deeper into the fall. This is water is special regulation, artificial only with barbless hook. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches during the regular trout season.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are full. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching fish. Reports from Davis are only fair at best. Cooler temperatures can be expected after Labor Day and fishing can be resumed.