Everything You Need to Know About Fishing on Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This huge body of water is the sixth largest alpine lake in North America, sitting at a high altitude of almost 6,300 feet. It was formed by the rise and fall of land due to faulting and its shores span across two states, making it a major tourist attraction in both California and Nevada. The lake is known for its sweeping mountain views and clear waters that make it one of America’s greatest fishing destinations. You can’t ask for a more serene and scenic setting to fish than on beautiful Lake Tahoe.


The most common fish you’ll find in Lake Tahoe is mackinaw (lake trout), which like to inhabit the deep waters of the lake and typically range between 16-25 inches. Next comes rainbow trout, which are heavily planted and a bit smaller at 10-14 inches. You can also reel in brown trout, cutthroat trout, and silver trout—July and August are usually the most successful months for finding trout. From late July through October, you can easily catch 4-year-old Kokanee salmon that have adopted a fiery red color for spawn season. There is a limit to the number of fish you can catch in a day on Lake Tahoe: You can take home 5 fish with no more than two of those being mackinaw.


Lake Tahoe Mackinaw

Photo Source: Joby Cefalu


Lake Tahoe is successfully fished from a boat; you’ll find the most trout in deep waters of around 200 feet. The lake has a surface area of 192 beautiful square miles to explore. Even so, you won’t run out of places to fish on the shore—the lake has 72 miles of shoreline. If you’re in the California Tahoe region, the Truckee River on the West Shore is a great place to search for rainbow, brown, and brook trout. In South Lake Tahoe lies Taylor Creek, which is where you’ll find Kokanee salmon mid-spawn. Just south of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake and Echo Lakes are great for boat and shore fishing. If you’re looking for trout on the Nevada shores you should fish from Cave Rock and Sand Harbor State Parks, since they’re stocked from these locations.


Mackinaw Fishing - Lake Tahoe 


If you’re planning to spend a day on Lake Tahoe, you should be mindful of the climate. Due to a distinctly mountain location, there are steep differences in morning and afternoon temperatures. You should also be sure to wear sunscreen as you can burn even on a cloudy day. Moreover, anyone 16 years or older needs a valid California or Nevada fishing license to fish here.


Lake Tahoe Sunset


If you don’t have the gear or know how to venture out on your own, the area has tons of local charters and guides that will greatly increase your chances of success on the water. Locals are experienced in all the trolling, drifting, and jigging techniques that you’ll need to grab fish from the deep waters. They typically supply everything you need—rods, reels, bait, and cleaning tools—and can share expertise that will enhance the entire experience. Whether you’re an individual or a group looking for a half or full day of fishing fun, Yentna can connect you with the perfect guide for your trip to Lake Tahoe. Click here to connect with the top fishing guide in Lake Tahoe.

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