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Tahoe Area Fly Fishing Report

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Matt “Gilligan” Koles Reports on 9.23.2015


It is fall in the Tahoe basin. This means cold nights and warm days, or the typical “Indian Summer” weather pattern that we seem to experience every year. Several river clean-ups have taken place which I love to see. A big thank you to all those that pitched in.  The Truckee River right now as I write this is on the cusp of what most would consider to be fishable. The water is cooling down but there still isn’t a lot of water volume. Make your own choice on whether to fish it or not, but keep in mind the long term health of the fishery no matter what you decide. Let’s briefly talk about some details.

The Little Truckee:

Fish are in really great shape, and pressure is light. There are not very many places in California that have fish the size that we do out on the LT. It’s a real gem of a tailwater, and fall is likely the best time to fish it. Fall hatches include Baetis, or small blue wing olives, Psuedo’s, think very, very small blue wing olives, and caddis. The caddis are small, but sometimes fish will key in on them. There have been some browns pushing out of lake and making their annual spawning run up the river. Kokanee also make the push out of Boca. Flows were down for the enhancement/ restoration project at 16 cfs, then came up for a week to 115 cfs, and are now at 45 cfs. The dry fly fishing should start getting really good as we get into October.

Pyramid Lake:

Pyramid Lake in Nevada opens October 1st. Some significant changes have been made to Pyramid Lake regulations this year. Based on the same weather pattern as we had last year, it should fish much the same on this year’s opener. High pressure is in place and it doesn’t look like it will budge anytime soon. High pressure is always in place September in Reno/Tahoe. I imagine surface temps will be up well into the 60’s, keeping the fish down in the thermocline looking for water that is 58-59 degrees. That should be anywhere from 30-50 feet, and maybe even deeper.

What does that mean for the opener if you’re a fly angler? It means that you need to get the bugs down, and you need some kind of boat, or float tube. You will need to fish Tui-Chub pattens. We vertical jig with our Rio Outbounds, type 6, 330 grains, right from the boat. Retrieve your baitfish files straight up and hold on.

During the early season (October), the water cools and the bait balls are close to shore bringing the cutthroat within striking distance of the fly angler. Some beaches have more Tui-Chub than others. If you can find the bait balls, you will find the fish. A lot of folks like to fish the deeper drop-off beaches early in the year. It will be crowded on the opener. If you are launching a boat, be prepared to be there a while.

Truckee River (California Side):

After a very rough summer of low water levels on the Truckee River flows are at about the same as they were this time last year. Not ideal, but fishable in stretches and cooling down. The water in the Truckee River right now is coming out of Donner Lake (57 cfs) with no water coming out of Boca. The river between Donner Creek, and the inflow of the Little Truckee RIver at Boca has not seen much of any water in months. I took a walk up along the there the other day, it is low, but it is annually low like that every season during this time of year. I did not fish it, so I have no idea the state/ condition of the river along there. Let’s hope for the best up along the ‘Shire.

The Truckee River is right around 75 cfs in Hirschdale and about 85 cfs near Farad. TMWA is draining Independence Lake as well as Donner right now. There is 60 cfs going into Stampede. Hopefully that water will come down into Boca and be released into the Truckee River. If we see the river flowing around 100 cfs in Hirschdale, then you’ll probably hear a more upbeat fishing report from me.

Truckee River (Nevada Side):

The river is suffering badly from the lack of flows and drought. It is not advised to fish the river below Verdi until flows come up.

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