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Alternative Fishing Spots in South Lake Tahoe

Fishing is somewhat of an obsession of mine. Few things beat the thrill of feeling a fish on the end of your line, or the satisfaction of figuring out how to catch one. Coupled with this is the spectacular scenery you often find yourself in. Whenever we reach a new destination I always spend ages looking at Google Maps, searching for any body of water that may hold fish. Then there is the exploring to find a way to get to the water and, of course, trying to figure out if said body of water actually has any fish.

Fishing in South Lake Tahoe

Spending a summer in South Lake Tahoe, on the shore of Lake Tahoe has been a very exciting as well as frustrating “fishploration” for me. Lake Tahoe itself is, of course, a very popular fishing destination and can produce some record catches. It is, however, highly unlikely that you would catch anything fishing from the shore. You need to head out on a boat to improve your chances. (Here are the top fishing charters in the area according to tripadvisor). Not owning a boat nor wanting to spend too much money on a fishing charter (#travellerbudget), I had to search around a bit more.
Just a stones throw from the house we’re staying in is a small creek, aptly named Trout Creek. The river/creek fishing season on the Tahoe basin opens on July 1st. This meant I had to wait around for over a week before I could even attempt to fish this creek.

Naturally I had to find an alternative fishing spot.

The Tahoe Keys

A bit of Google searching and reading random fishing forums, I found out that ‘The Tahoe Keys‘, being shallower and warmer than the lake itself, had become home to bass, bluegill and even crappie. A small boat or kayak would open up all of this water to fish in quite easily. Not having these I had to hunt around for a few access points where you could get to the water (check the map below for these). Fishing in the Keys is not amazing. You can easily catch the bluegill and small crappie if they’re around. The bass are a lot more finicky but not impossible.

tahoe keys, fishing, south lake tahoe

Tahoe Keys Overflow

Situated behind the Keys is another body of water that seems to be a spillover for the Key’s canals. Here, there were also a large amount of bluegill – fun on fly tackle, as well as some cruising bass.

tahoe keys, fishing, south lake tahoe, bluegill

HINT: If you park at the end of the road near the water treatment plant there is a little pathway that will take you down to the water. I didn’t see any no fishing or private property signs etc. The path was well used. 

 

Trout Creek

The creek season finally started and I had my first attempt at Trout Creek early on a Saturday morning. I caught nothing! One flash at a dry fly and that was it. My next outing was late afternoon and also produced nothing. Tahoe had just been through a record winter and snow melt meant the rivers and creeks were all very full and very fast, bursting their banks in a lot of places, not ideal for fishing.
A week later Trout Creek finally paid off for me at about 7pm. I finally landed a brook trout on a dry fly. I’ve fished the creek few times since and found a few decent spots. I even found  bluegill in some of the slower bends. A lot of the bank is accessible from Railroad Trail. You can park in the cul-de-sac on Columbine Road. It is also accessible from Golden Bear Trail.
tahoe, fishing, fly fishing, south lake tahoe, brook trout, trout creek, dry fly

Upper Truckee River

A few days later I headed up Luther Pass, just outside the town of Meyer. The Upper Truckee river is accessible from here by taking the Upper Truckee Road South turnoff and traveling down into the river valley. There is parking near the bridge and quite a lot of the river is accessible from here. Hiking through the area is also very scenic and if you’re feeling adventurous enough you can hike up to it’s source to fish as well. The water was still very high and my morning out did not produce any fish. A few days later I tried the Upper Truckee again and landed two trout. One was very small, the second about  30cm. Both came as the sun was almost down on a dry fly. This spot produced another small trout for me a week later and every time I’ve tried it I’ve had at least one hit on the dry. There is quite a bit of river bank to fish there and ample parking at the corner of Elks Club Dr and Emerald Bay Rd. Check the map at the end of the post.
fishing, fly fishing, trout, upper truckee, south lake tahoe

Carson River

At the top of Luther Pass you will also come upon the West Fork of the Carson river. Quite a lot of the river is accessible. You can park near the bridge just before the t-junction. I’ve fished the area once just as the sun was setting. Lots of rises all over and hits on the dry fly. I didn’t land anything though.
An adventuring spirit and willingness to look around for fishing spots will eventually lead to results. The Tahoe area abounds with creeks and rivers and mountain lakes begging to be explored. Even if you don’t catch anything you’re bound to see some spectacular scenery or a breathtaking sunset.
sunset, caples lake, south lake tahoe

 Here’s a short recap of my alternative fishing spots:

Tahoe Keys – between the houses, lots of bluegill, some crappie and bass if you’re lucky.
Tahoe Keys Overflow – bigger and more aggressive bluegill, very fussy bass.
Trout Creek – small brook trout in most areas, dry fly and early evening has been good for me.
Upper Truckee River – bigger trout, also all on dry fly.
West Fork of the Carson – chances of Rainbow and Brown trout.

Don’t forget to get the right fishing license for the area. On Lake Tahoe itself you can have either a Nevada or California license. I bought a California license from Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters. The staff were very friendly and readily gave advice about the area and fly choices. Licenses are also available online or at most sports/tackle shops in the area.

I often prefer this search and all the frustrations that come with it to guided trips or charter boats. Call me crazy or call it therapy. Some days I do wish they would put up a big neon sign that says, FISH HERE, use this bait. But those days quickly fade from memory when I do find that perfect spot.

I’ll be posting on more fishing spots soon. Follow me on Instagram @thelazyfisherman for up to date catches.

What is your favorite way to fish? Guided, popular spots or out of the way and quiet?

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