Lake Tahoe Fishing

Fishing in Lake Tahoe

If you love to fish, you’ll love Lake Tahoe. Experience breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada while casting your line in pure, pristine waters that are home to some of the most prized fish in the world. With everything from shore fishing to fly fishing and boat fishing, your luck might never run out. To inspire your next Lake Tahoe fishing adventure, we put all the info you need in one easy-to-read place. Bookmark this page today and start planning your next fishing trip. 

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Fishing Hot Spots | Fishing Guides and Charters | Bait and Tackle Shops | Visitors Guide to Lake Tahoe Fishing

Father helping son on pier fishing Lake Tahoe

Where to Fish in Lake Tahoe

Here’s a fun fishing fact about Lake Tahoe – 90% of the fish swim in 10% of the lake. And it’s a massive lake, clocking in at 191 square miles with a maximum depth of 1,644 feet. In fact, it’s the second deepest lake in the United States. Luckily every type of angler can find their perfect spot. Here’s the four main types of fishing at Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe shore fishing with close-up of hand holding rod
Shore Fishing

If you’re fishing from land, try the west or east shore, especially in warmer months when fish are more active.

Lake Tahoe Boat Fishing
Boat Fishing

Fishing charters are a great way to fish Lake Tahoe. Tahoe’s captains know when the best spots are firing, from secluded coves to open waters.

Kayak Fishing Lake Tahoe
Kayak Fishing

Paddling out at first light in a kayak to fish is hard to beat. And for a truly unique experience, rent a clear bottom kayak.

Matt Heron Fly Fishing near Lake Tahoe
Fly Fishing

Fly fishing Lake Tahoe’s many streams and rivers is a perfect way to spend the afternoon and really coax trout out of their hiding spots.

Lake Tahoe Fishing Safety

Fishing Safety & Planning Ahead

While fishing in Lake Tahoe can be a memorable experience, safety always comes first. Given the high elevation and unpredictable weather, it’s essential to be prepared. Here’s a quick checklist.

  • Check the Weather – conditions can change fast. Stay up to date with the latest forecast.
  • Carry Safety Equipment – don’t forget life jackets, a first aid kit and communication devices.
  • Know Your Gear – for instance, inspect kayaks for invasive species before entering the water.
  • Tell A Friend – try not to fish alone, but if you do, always tell a friend where you are.
  • Get Your Boater Card – take a boater safety education class and master essential maritime skills.
Woman holding rainbow trout in Lake Tahoe

The Famous Fish of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is home to many different species of fish. Trout and salmon are the most popular fish in Lake Tahoe. Anglers come from all over for a chance to catch their daily limit.

  • Lake Trout (Mackinaw) – probably the most prized fish in Lake Tahoe, these shimmering beauties can weigh as much as 20 lbs. Not as colorful as other trout, they’re grayish green at the top with a white belly.
  • Rainbow Trout – named after the reddish stripe down their lateral line. Rainbow trout prefer deep water and rocky shores.
  • Brook Trout – also known as “brookies,” these spectacular trout are easy to spot because of their red speckled dots. They’re voracious eaters who always fight hard.
  • Cutthroat Trout – fierce and feisty, cutthroat have a faint, rose-colored band down along the lateral line.
  • Kokanee Salmon – the smaller, land-locked cousins of the sockeye salmon, these fish have blue backs and silver sides when non-spawning.

Fishing Hot Spots

While there are plenty of places to cast a line, these spots are popular with anglers of every skill and age.

  • West Shore – a great spot for bank fishing. You can usually catch rainbow and brown trout on worms, small spinners and eggs.
  • Sawmill Lake – a 10-acre private lake inside Northstar, California, renonwed for its “fighting rainbow trout.” You can reserve a fishing day by phone or email.
  • Martis Reservoir – a catch-and-release reservoir off Highway 267 between Truckee and Northstar. Use single, barbless hooks and spinner bait.
Fishing Lake Tahoe

Bait and Tackle Shops

As any experienced angler will tell you, the best bait can vary depending on the time of year and the type of fish you’re targeting. But it’s good to know the basics. For catching Mackinaw trout, try live baitfish like large minnows or scented soft plastics that mimic natural prey. For rainbow and brown trout, use spoons, spinners and flies. Some anglers claim nightcrawlers and salmon eggs work every time. There’s only one way to find out!

Lake Tahoe Fish
Lake Tahoe Fishing

Fishing Guides and Charters

Fishing charters in Lake Tahoe are an unforgettable way to experience the beauty of the lake while trying to hook some of the region’s most prized fish. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a first-timer, these charters have the gear, knowledge and patience to ensure a successful day on the water. Check out Matt Heron Fly Fishing, SWA Watersports, Chuck’s Charter Fishing, Sierra Fin Addicts Guide Service and more on our Guides and Charters page.

Fishing Licenses, Permits and Regulations

It’s important to understand the licensing, permits and regulations put in place to protect this fragile ecosystem and ensure sustainable fishing. Always stay informed about catch limits, seasonal restrictions and gear guidelines. Some lakes and streams are catch and release only so visit both California Department of Wildlife and the Nevada Department of Wildlife for all most up-to-date information. Do your part to preserve Lake Tahoe for generations to come.

Fishing Lake Tahoe Matt Heron's Fly Fishing

Sustainability and Conservation

Sustainable fishing is key to maintaining our beautiful, natural environment. In addition to following local regulations, check out these tips to support all the wildlife that depends on it from lake to shore.

  • Pick up your trash and take it with you – don’t pollute the water. 
  • Catch and release. Keeping your catch? Consider disposing of unused parts by composting with plant waste. 
  • Ensure your watercraft is checked for invasive species. 
  • Avoid plastic waste. Like nets and lines made of non-biodegradable, non-recyclable plastics.  
  • Opt for lead-free fishing tackle.