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Go Fish in North Lake Tahoe 

Last updated: June 2023

As the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe offers 39 trillion (that’s trillion with a T!) gallons of water to enjoy. That means there are a multitude of opportunities for a relaxing day of Lake Tahoe fishing.   

Better yet, the North Lake Tahoe area, which spans both California and Nevada, features plenty of streams, rivers and other bodies of water as well, so whether you prefer a casual day of casting from the shore or decide to charter a boat, the opportunities are plentiful. When you’re not angling, North Lake Tahoe provides a limitless amount of choices to keep you and your travel partners entertained, as well as lodging locations that range from budget-friendly to resort-style hotels.   


Brown trout, rainbow trout, Mackinaw trout and Kokanee salmon preside in Lake Tahoe’s deep waters, so the most successful anglers tend to enjoy the sport from a boat, according to California’s Greatest Lakes. However, fishing from shore can prove to be a perfect catch, especially south of Sand Harbor, along the west shore south of Tahoe City and other points.  

According to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the Upper Truckee River offers ideal conditions during the early part of the fishing season, although fishing is closed year-round from the dam to 1,000 feet downstream.  

Sawmill Lake, a 10-acre private lake inside Northstar California, is renowned for its “fighting rainbow trout,” although the lake is reserved for catch-and-release fly-fishing only.  


We’ve only mentioned a few hot spots for your fishing pleasure, but there are many more. Before you decide on a specific location, it’s best to check with the experts. The knowledgeable guides at Sierra Fin Addicts have decades of experiences, so whether you’re a novice angler or a seasoned veteran, you’ll want to get their input.  

Matt “Gilligan” Koles of Gilligan’s Guide Service enjoys guiding anglers of all abilities. With more than 35 years of experience in fly-fishing for Truckee River trout, this fishing veteran can help you with whatever excursion holds your interest. If he is unavailable, he’ll set you up with one of his partner guides so you can find the fish of a lifetime.   


Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned expert, there may be no better way to enjoy the sport than by reserving an expert-guided Lake Tahoe fishing charter. You’ll be letting someone else do the driving while you sit back, relax, cast a line and enjoy the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.  

Up to five people can enjoy the approximately four-hour private excursion provided by Captain Chris’ Fishing Charter. A fisherman since 1980, Captain Chris runs a 25-foot Skipjack boat with a comfortable cabin and restroom, so you can start your morning looking for prize Mackinaw trout or rainbow trout, depending on the time of year.  

Hop aboard a 28-foot Baha Cruiser piloted by Chuck Self, owner of Chuck’s Charter Fishing. Featuring a fully enclosed cabin and a large fishing deck, the boat seats you and five of your fishing buddies comfortably while you enjoy the 3½- to 5-hour trip in search of trout and salmon.    

Sierra Fin Addicts also features boats specifically designed for fishing on Lake Tahoe, as well as the experts to guide you and the top-notch equipment you’ll need to catch the big one. Morning and afternoon half-day trips are available year-round and you can also enjoy open (two to six people) or private trips.  


Did you ever drop a line in the lake and then sit … and sit … and sit without a single bite? Perhaps you’re using the wrong bait or equipment. North Lake Tahoe is home to a number of shops and stores with just the right rods, reels and more to make your next fishing excursion a success.  

Fishing licenses (required in both California and Nevada), tackle, bait and more are available at Swigard’s Ace Hardware in Tahoe City where top fishing spots can be found throughout the area.   

Mountain Hardware and Sports in Truckee not only stocks a wide variety of rods, reels, bait, and accessories, but they also have a knowledgeable staff that compile weekly fishing reports. Stop the guessing game of where to fish and get a spot-on, detailed description of when, what and where to fish by the in-store experts.  


The variety of fish available is certainly a major draw of anglers to the North Lake Tahoe area, but enjoying the activity while basking in the beauty of the region can’t be dismissed. Visitors from around the world have experienced the wonder of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the crystal-clear waters and the special communities along the shores of North Lake Tahoe.  

Anyone who lives in or has visited the area recognizes its uniqueness and the importance of preserving and protecting the environment for future generations. That’s why North Lake Tahoe has asked visitors and residents alike to commit to six pledges as a reminder to adventure with awareness and to observe the impact of their individual actions.   

The six pledges include: Become a Steward of Lake Tahoe; Respect the Environment; Stay Educated; Keep Wildlife Wild; Be Fire Safe; and Demonstrate Mindful Travel. Take the pledge and do your part.  

The fish are biting, so start planning a memorable vacation to North Lake Tahoe.