Fishing The Mighty Truckee

The best things are sometimes the ones that you pay a ton of money to do. But then again, sometimes the best things are those that simply combine powerful elements – oh, and they’re free: Water, Air, Food, Offspring…and Quiet Times.

A boy and a riverbank

The Truckee River brings lakewater from one of the prettiest places in all the world and tumbles it down a gorgeous canyon before spilling this incredibly pure liquid into the endless, dusty Nevada desert. I remember being dumbfounded when I learned that Tahoe is the source of Pyramid Lake, just 50 short miles north of Sparks.


The upside to this is that it takes the weight of ‘purity’ off of the river. You can do just about anything you want around this waterway – like build train tracks and later a road alongside. Or install a miniature dam at its mouth and hire someone to control the flow. You can put bridges across it that lead to little Forest Service huts and multi-million dollar getaways. But the best thing that was done to the ole Truckee was the little bike/walking path that runs over the former train tracks. It is from this path that one can creatively mix the elements mentioned above.


The way I chose to do this recently was to take my boy fishing. Within five minutes of finding the shore everything was backwards. He fell in the river and I had to go to the bathroom. We were a mess. But the magic of Tahoe soon righted us and we were upright on the banks of the river fashin’ like good ole boys and waving to rafters as they floated by. After about fifteen casts I asked the little boy if he wanted to try. “Yeth.” I was reeling in a cast, “handed” him the rod, and the instant his chubby little palms hit that fiberglass there was a tug on the line! The boy had success in his first second of trying the most frustrating sport known to humankind.

Lucky Son of...Me!

Fishing around Tahoe can be done a variety of ways. The method I generally use is at the bottom of the self-respecting fisherman’s barrel: spinning rod and some lures from WalMart. This works on the Lake in May when decent-sized fish are within casting range of West Shore piers. It also works two days after the Truckee River is stocked (a friend of mine saw the truck dumping trout into the river a couple days before I took my boy). But to get fish, and a wealth of fish stories, year-round there are some charter options at Tahoe that are great. The most popular is Big Mack out of Carnelian Bay. For those who prefer solitude (and have a few more bucks to spend) there are some smaller private lakes with guides available. If all of this sounds ho-hum to you, well there’s always fish hunting which is when people go after the elusive California Golden Trout – supposedly found in only the most remote and highest lakes of this area and nowhere else.

Whatever your poison, I simply say don’t forget the last of the critical elements. Whether you’re bouncing around on the Big Mack with a bunch of buddies, or stalking Browns on a remote shoreline, be sure to stock up on a little laziness…’cause after all, isn’t that how this necessity became a ‘sport’ in the first place?


Everyone's Doing Their Thing on the Truckee

The Truckee River bike path goes into Tahoe City and down the West Shore.

Subscribe to our mailing list