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LCO Guide to Fly Fishing
the Truckee River

Fly Fishing The Truckee Webinar With Matt "Gilligan" Koles

About The Truckee River

The only outlet of the massive Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River is a fly fisherman’s playground, offering pleasant, small stream fishing for stocked rainbows to mysterious canyon water harboring jumbo, wild browns.

At the outlet of the lake is Fanny Bridge, named for the common sight of people leaning over the railing staring at the massive trout below. Fishing at the bridge is off limits, but just downstream, fishing along Highway 89 for stocked rainbows (if you’re into that kind of thing) is a good time. This section, down to the town of Truckee, offers easy access and several campgrounds and eager trout. A few, large browns patrol the area too, ready to snap your tippet.

After you hit the Wagon Train for coffee, in Truckee find Trout Creek, east of town, and the beginning of the catch and release section, open year-round. This is the water that made the Truckee famous and deserving of its tough reputation. The water is still relatively small but the fish are bigger, meaner and all wild. Glenshire Blvd follows this section from a distance with plenty of access along the way. Most of this water is riffle, run, pool structure and a pleasure to wade and fish. From here, downstream the river is a bug factory and knowing the hatches becomes more important.

The catch and release water ends at Boca Bridge, near the Little Truckee River confluence, but the fishing only gets better all the way to the Nevada border. Below Boca, the water heads into a bouldery canyon but still remains accessible from I-80 and Hirschdale road. This is big fish water, but you’ll earn your keep here. The big browns and ‘bows have plenty to eat and they’ve seen every kind of fly and lure known to man but still make an appearance on the end of your line, if you put your time in.


The Truckee River: Intermediate to Advanced

Don’t be fooled, the Truckee River will beat you up, both the fish and the rocks.

The river fishes year-round but mid-winter and late-summer can be too icy or too hot, respectively. The wading ranges from relatively easy near town to fairly tough in the canyon.

Its reputation of a tough and complex fishery is well earned. The river is full of bug life from top to bottom, and matching the hatch can be tricky, but the big rewards are worth the trials.

Do yourself a huge favor and hire a guide the first time you head to the Truckee.


Hatches on the Truckee River

Blue Winged Olives- Spring & Fall

March Browns- April-May

Green Drakes May-June

Pale Morning Duns- May-July

Flying Ants- May-July

Golden Stones- May-Summer

Caddis- April-October

Midges- Year Round


Tips for Fishing the Truckee River

Tightline or indicator nymphing is the main game but always be prepared for some solid dryfly activity. Mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, flying ants and more will come off anytime of the year.

Fish will come up for terrestrials and foamy attractors during the warmer months.

When nymphing, use fluorocarbon and don’t be afraid of more weight, to get down quickly.

Big browns and ‘bows will hammer big streamers, especially in the canyon

Change flies often, until you start catching fish. The trout from town on downstream are often picky.

Regulations change for different sections of river. Consult the CDFW rule book.

Summer/fall flows may get extremely low and warm, requiring “hoot owl” fishing early and late in the day.

Consider fishing the underappreciated, Nevada side in the cooler months

Rigs for the Truckee


Access & Camping on the Truckee River

Highway 89 parallels the river from Lake Tahoe to the town of Truckee. Plenty of national forest land and easy pullouts with a smattering of private land in between.

Glenshire Road, provides several miles of access to the river from town, downstream to the Glenshire Bridge.

From Glenshire Bridge downstream three miles is private access, owned by the San Francisco Fly Fishing Club. Private property signs abound.

The Boca/Stampede Exit off I-80 leads to Boca Bridge access and Hirschdale Road. Follow Hirschdale Road down to another bridge crossing the river.

Camping & Places to Stay on the Truckee River

Silver Creek, Goose Meadow and Granite Flat campgrounds are all along the river above town and right off Highway 89. These campgrounds are open seasonally during the warmer months, when the upper river is open for fishing.

Boca and Boca Spring campgrounds are located near Boca Reservoir where the Little Truckee pours into the main river. They are accessible year-round (barring too much snow) and in close proximity to the canyon section of the Truckee.

The Truckee Hotel is a comfortable, historic hotel in downtown Truckee and if you’re into smoking indoors and gambling, Boomtown just over the Nevada border in Verdi is often the cheapest, non-sketchy lodging around.