Lake Tahoe region has plenty of opportunities for fishing |

Lake Tahoe region has plenty of opportunities for fishing

J.P. Kelsey
A Nor-Cal Charters outing proved successfull with catching the Mackinaw limit for the day.
Courtesy/ Nor-Cal Charters |

With all of the opportunities for adventure and recreation around Lake Tahoe, people can forget that the region has some fishing that will make any angler feel the blues — the Tahoe blues.

One of the great things about the Tahoe Basin is that you have several different types of bodies of waters and waterways that allow for different types of fishing. Depending on what species of fish or experience you’re trying to catch, fly-fishing the Upper Truckee or chartering a boat around Lake Tahoe will cover you.

If you don’t have gear or a boat just yet, Andrew Lubrano provides a full-service fishing charter with his business, Nor-Cal Charters. Lubrano has been taking people out for fishing adventures around Lake Tahoe since 2012, and the Bay Area native said he spent a lot of his summers as a youth fishing Lake Tahoe.

“Where you’re fishing is usually going to determine what you catch,” said Lubrano. “If you’re fishing on the sandy shelves, you’re going to catch a lot of mackinaw lake trout. Those are down from about 90 to 300 feet.“

Lubrano said that most of the life in the lake, fish and otherwise, will tend to stick to a lot of the same areas. There are a few other species that can be caught, but they are a little more rare than the mackinaw lake trout.

“The general rule is that about 90-percent of the life lives in 10-perent of the lake,” he said. “We have a couple other species, but they’re definitely the minority. We have the kokanee salmon that hang out anywhere in the lake. They’re going to be on the surface because their air bladders don’t them go past about 120 feet.”

According to Lubrano, there are several types of lures that can be used, like the “flasher” or “flatfish” lure, but he tries to mix it up a little when he takes his clients out.

“We do something a little different, we use lead jigs,” said Lubrano. “They’re about 3 ounces in weight and tipped with a little minnow for flavor and we vertical jig for them so the boat is stopped on top of the fish.”

Lubrano explained that when he’s out fishing with these types of jigs, he will stop at each location for about 30 minutes, then go to the next spot, instead of trolling.

For those looking for a different experience, fly fishing at locations outside of Lake Tahoe yield some good catches. Victor Babbitt, owner of Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, offers anything from guided fly-fishing tours around the region to introductory courses on fly-fishing.

“We stay within about a two hour circle and fish just about everything,” said Babbitt. “The Truckee [river], the Carson, the Walker and little bit on the Yuba and the American. We have a mixture of spots.”

Babbitt said Lake Tahoe can be fly-fished, but there are locations outside of the lake that are more ideal for the sport.

“We do fly-fish some of the tributaries of Lake Tahoe,” he said. “The Upper Truckee and Trout Creek, places like that are good spots. We don’t offer guided trips on the tributaries, though, because they’re just too fragile of fisheries.”

Babbitt said some of the closer spots they do provide tours on are portions of the Carson River and portions of the Truckee River.

As far as what you’d be going after, Babbitt says trout species are typically biting around the basin. “The rainbow and brown trout are two of the most sought after fish,” he said. “We catch a few cutthroat here and there — those are stocked in the West Carson River. They’re a little bit small of specimen, but they are out there.”

According to Babbitt, the summer months can hinder fly-fishing during the daytime, with morning and early evening being the most ideal times. He also said that paying attention to what types of insects are hatching can influence how many fish will be biting.

“We’re looking for particular hatches of bugs and those hatches come off at different times,” said Babbitt. “The last couple of hours in the evening is always a great time.“

The winter weather that hit Lake Tahoe this winter has also influenced fish habitats and numbers, explained Babbitt. “The tributaries around the basin are closed until July 1,” said Babbitt. “And the reason for that is to protect the spawning fish. This year in particular, because the water was so high, our regulations didn’t work. Those spawning fish were up in the creeks for a couple extra weeks this year.”

Babbitt said that a lack of regulation of the tributaries, beyond the opening and closing date, allowed for people to go in and kill or catch the fish that were still out before returning to the lake.

“We lost a lot of out broodstock, our spawning fish, because people were able to kill them after July 1. It’s really changed our basin fishery.”

Babbitt also explained that other fisheries, like the Carson River, can usually be fished by April, but this year the season was delayed until about June in order to let the water level lower.

Nor-Cal Charters’ tours typically go to several spots throughout the lake and last five hours. They also offer gutting, storage and a few recipes that are included with the tour. Lake Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters offers tours of varying times and locations, as well as workshops on fly-fishing and traditional fishing. For information, visit and

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