Fishing season begins in Tahoe Sierra

While many waters are open year-round in the Tahoe Sierra, many still open with the traditional opening day on the last Saturday in April. While opening day used to be a ritual for most fly-fishers, because many waters are now open, it does not seem to be as big of a deal. It is just another day and weekend to go fishing.

The snowpack this year is slightly below average, but thanks to a pretty significant March snowfall, it is adequate. Coupled with the large snowpack last year, reservoirs around the state are in good early season shape. Boca Reservoir, Donner Lake, Stampede Reservoir and Lake Tahoe are quite full. Prosser Reservoir will fill so it seems that the season will see plenty of water for all.

To the north, Frenchman and Davis lakes are both doing well. Frenchman is at capacity and spilling at last report.

The Truckee River is dropping nicely into shape and should be ideal by late May. Fishing has been good in spite of early season high water. Most are using nymphs and streamers for success. Hatches of Blue Wing Olive and March Brown mayflies have been occurring, but surface activity has been only occasional.

The release from Stampede into the Little Truckee River is down under 100 cfs at the moment. This is a pretty low, early-season flow that favors a dry dropper type of technique — a large dry used as an indicator with a nymph underneath.

We were playing a round of golf at Grizzly Ranch in Portola recently and the carpenter ants were flying in good numbers in the Sierra Valley. We should have been fishing Davis Lake instead of golfing that day. The carpenter ant is one of the early season insects that bring large fish to the surface to feed on local waters.

For fly-fishers, what we call the early part of the season — the period between the opener and July — is probably the best dry fly-fishing opportunity one can have. What can be more fun that watching fish in excess of 20 inches crush your fly on the surface? This visual experience is what we find so exciting.

For many of us, it is what we call the final stage of fly-fishing. When we are younger, we try to catch every fish that swims by any means. Then we focus in on trying to catch the largest fish by any means. Finally, we get to the point of only catching them the way that we want, which is why there are those who prefer dry fly-fishing these days. It is how we roll.


Boca Reservoir | The road over the dam is closed until further notice. Inflow is at 98 cfs and the outflow is 50 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 seems to be the main bait. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | All tributaries are closed to fishing until July 1. 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 98 cfs. This is a fairly low early-season flow. Nymphing and dries should both work at this level. Dry dropper rigs are also recommended. Hatches similar to the main Truckee.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is the best early in the season and again the fall. The lake is typically good until around mid-June and again in the fall.

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 the water warms.

Stampede Reservoir | The road is closed over the dam. 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. Kokanee fishing has been good. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve as the water warms.

Truckee River | The flow out of the dam in Tahoe City is at 201 cfs. The flows through Truckee are at 444 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good for those working hard. Nymphs and streamers are producing best during the spring flows. Blue Wing Olives and March Brown mayflies are showing, but little surface activity yet. This water is special regulation, artificial only with 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 until Nov. 15.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are full. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching fish. Reports from Davis are only fair.