Truckee Tahoe Fly Fishing Report June 25, 2021
by Miles Zimmerman
As we begin to settle into summer, we can really see the signs of the low snow year. Lakes are low, creeks are nearly dried up and the Truckee River is dealing with abnormally warm water temps for this time of year. When trout fishing over the next few months, please continue to be conscious of where and when you are fishing to minimize your impact on our fisheries.
We still have a good number of viable options for trout fishing, but as the long, hot summer days really set in we recommend exploring some of our higher elevation lakes for good trout fishing while also getting a great hike in. We are lucky to have an abundance of stillwaters for years like this when fishing moving waters is limited. With hundreds of small natural lakes in our area, you could easily spend your summer at a different body of water every week. It’s definitely true that trout don’t live in ugly places and our high alpine lakes are no exception, so step out of your comfort zone and don’t box yourself into categories when it comes to fly fishing.
Truckee River Fly Fishing Report
The average water temps on the Truckee continue to rise as we are now in the longest days of the year. Fishing here will be best in the mornings and we ask you to be off of the water by noon or when water temps rise above 65 degrees, which has been happening on a daily basis along the entire river and likely won’t be getting any better for a few months. Let’s continue to hope for some intermittent rain like we had this week as that can go a long way to keep water temps down and provide a bit of moisture. We have heard rumor that Lake Tahoe is expected to be below its natural rim by October and we may very well see the upper river go dry at some point this fall. While this sounds bleak, it does happen on occasion and as long as there is some water in the river the fish population will make it through as long as we do our part to not exploit the fishery when it is most vulnerable.
We have been seeing a good variety of bugs on the Truckee and anglers have quite a few options when it comes to fly selection. This week has been very good for green drakes, and for what these bugs lack in volume they make up for in size and it only takes a few of them hatching off to interest the fish, so have a few adult and emerger/cripple patterns ready in case they decide to make an appearance, or try using nymphs throughout the day. We have been seeing a very consistent hatch of PMD’s in the mornings as well and this has been providing a decent dry fly bite for those looking to fish on top. The other bugs of interest have been caddis, golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, crayfish, and your typical Truckee River go-to’s such as midges, baetis and worms.
Fish will be sitting mostly in the fast water at this point, especially the larger fish, as they will bully the smaller fish for the prime locations. Try euro nymphing or indicator fishing the fast water found at the tops of pools, in pocket water, riffles or seams off of boulders. You are looking for fast oxygenated water that is at least 2 feet deep, where a cushion of soft water is found towards the bottom so that they can still sit in it without working too hard but where there is plenty of oxygen and food drifting by. The fish going for dries are usually found just back from the fast stuff off of seams, foam lines or in medium-fast riffles. Look for faster water WITH STRUCTURE to find fish, not all of the fast stuff is good fishing as they won’t typically be sitting out in the open of a 2 foot deep fast moving riffle, they are looking for any kind of structure be it a boulder breaking up the current, a seam off of a log jam or even just a small indentation in the river bottom providing them with a slight break in current.
Recommended Flies for The Truckee River
Tungsten Trout Retrievers #8-#10, Riot Stones #10, Stonedaddys #8-#10, Pat’s Rubberlegs #8-#10, Hunchback Green Drakes #10, Splitcase PMD’s #14-#16, Jigged PMD’s #14-#16, TNT PMD’s #16, TJ Hookers #6-#8, Two Bit Stones #12-#14, Iron Sallies #14, OCD Caddis #14-#16, G6 Caddis #14-#16, Caddistrophic Pupa #16, Pheasant Tails #12-#16, Hare’s Ears #14-#18, Zebra Midges #16-#20, San Juan Worms #12
The Little Truckee Fly Fishing Report:
The flows on the Little Truckee continue to hold strong at 75 CFS and the fishing remains good but with a lack of other cold water, options this river continues to see a good amount of angling pressure. Please be sure to spread out when fishing here and to not crowd out other anglers, while this is a small stretch of river there are still plenty of good runs to fish without having to be near others. Be sure to practice appropriate stream etiquette here and if the run you were looking to fish has someone else on it just move on and find new water. On the Little Truckee it is common to find fish in a lot of different water types and fishing all of the in-between water can be a great way to find the less suspecting fish. Try walking the river and covering a lot of water instead of holding down one run for a few hours, this will up everyone’s odds as you can put your flies in front of a greater number of fish and they will see different presentations over the course of the day all the while keeping other anglers happy as they can fish their favorite run.
The water temps on the Little Truckee remain in the low 50’s coming out of the dam which has been keeping both the fish and the bugs active. Because of this, we have been seeing good dry fly fishing throughout the day, but still the best times of day to fish on top would be the mornings and evenings while switching over to nymphs mid-day or when hatches aren’t present. This river is a great place to carry two rods to make switching your presentation fast when hatches occur. Low light hours will still provide the best fishing here as fish will not be able to spot you as easily and they will be a little less on-edge, so while you are still able to fish mid-day, for your best odds try to fish when the sun is low and there are shadows on the water to break up your profile.
Recommended Flies for The Little Truckee
Juju Baetis #18-#20, Anato-Mays #18-#20, WD40’s #18-#20, Rainbow Warriors #18-#20, Splitcase PMD’s #16-#18, Jigged PMD’s #16-#18, TNT PMD’s #16-#18, Caddistrophic Pupa #18, OCD Caddis #16, Fox’s Poopahs #16, Hunchback Green Drakes #10, French Nymphs #16-#20, Zebra Midges #18-#22, Flexy Floss Worms #14, San Juan Worms #12, RS2’s #18-#20, Silhouette Dun PMD’s #16-#18, Hackle Stacker PMD’s #18, Light Cahills #18, Mimic May Green Drake #10, Carpenter Ant #8, Loco Ant #10, RP’s Ant #12-#14, E/C Caddis #16-#18, Snowshoe Caddis #16-#18, Elk Hair Caddis #16-#18, Griffiths Gnat #18-#22, Dandelion Midges #18-#22
Truckee Tahoe Stillwater Fishing
As lakes at our elevation continue to warm, we highly encourage you to take a look at some of the high-elevation options in our area. It’s a great time of year to get out for a nice hike with a cool body of water as your end destination, take a refreshing dip in a beautiful mountain lake and maybe catch a few fish. We haven’t been naming off particular bodies of water in this section of the report not because were trying to guard a secret, but because there really is so many options for you to choose from and instead of telling you where we’ve been going, we encourage you to lead your own adventure and find your own slice of heaven. Take a look at the various lakes found in the Jackson Meadows, Grouse Ridge, Desolation Wilderness or Lakes Basin areas if you’re wondering where to start. Most of these lakes have great fishing and are accessible via a 4x4 road or a short hike. In general, high alpine lake fishing is pretty straight forward and anglers can catch fish using streamers, nymphs, and dries throughout the entire day as these fish are simply less picky than fish found in our more popular waters.
While a boat or float tube can help on certain lakes, shore fishing will still be good and we recommend reading water like you would in a river, positioning yourself on deeper drop-offs, color changes, or inlets and dams where water temps differ from the rest of the lake. If hatches are present you can expect a few basic bugs: Callibaetis (The main mayfly found on lakes), Midges, Caddis, Damselflies, Dragonflies, and terrestrials like ants and grasshoppers. When stripping streamers an olive woolly bugger, Damselfly or dragonfly nymphs, and baitfish patterns will be hard to beat and if fishing off of shore, a versaleader on your floating line is typically enough to get your flies in the zone. Indicators are our preferred method for general lake fishing and larger blood midge patterns like ice cream cone midges or albino winos are a great place to start and pheasant tail nymphs or hares ears are a great representation of Callibaetis and a good depth to start fishing at would be 4-8 feet, using 2-3 flies to up your odds and figure out what the fish prefer that day.
We have also been getting good reports about the Hexigenia hatch at Davis Lake and Lake Almanor and this can provide some of the best Stillwater dry fly fishing of the year for those willing to make the drive. Look for these bugs to be most active around the last hour of light and sometimes well into dark, providing a flurry of activity often only lasting an hour or two. Come on into the shop and check out our inventory of patterns for the largest mayflies on earth – and talk tactics on this fun hatch.
Flies for Stillwater Fishing:
Ice Cream Cone Midges #12-#16, Zebra Midges #16-#20, Albino Winos #12, Cutbait Midges #10-#12, Pheasant Tails #14-#18, Hare’s Ears #14-#18, Birds Nests #14-#16, Caddistrophic Pupa #16-#18, ocd Caddis #16, Balanced Leather Leeches #8, Pyramid Beach Leeches #8, Damselfly Nymphs #12, Woolly Buggers #6-#12, Simiseal Leeches #12, Bellyache Minnows #8, Carpenter Ants #8, RP’s Ants #12-#14, E/C Caddis #16-#18, Snowshoe Caddis #16, Elk Hair Caddis #16-#18, Para Adams #14-#18, Callibaetis Spinners #14-#18, Dandelion Midges #18-#22, Mimic Hoppers #12, Morrish Hoppers #8-#12, Mimic May Hex #8, Hex Adults #6-#8, Burks Hex Nymph #6
Thanks again for reading our report and visiting the shop. We have just a few more days left in our Anniversary Week Raffle, so make your way into the shop and get your magic ticket. We’re raising money for our Truckee River Conservation fund.
~ Miles and the TCO crew