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Lake Tahoe Fishing: Everything You Need To Know

Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful and vast lakes in the United States. You will be hard pushed to find such idyllic fishing spots, surrounded by majestic scenes anywhere else. Aside from the jaw-dropping beauty of the area, the angling possibilities are out of this world.

With serene vistas and bright blue freshwater, Lake Tahoe is a big hit among freshwater anglers. This area has some of the best inshore fishing in the whole country. And it stays this way all year round!

Fishing At Lake Tahoe Here’s All You Need To Know

Lake Tahoe is home to a wide variety of angling hotspots such as its Northern and Southern areas. Even the smaller bodies of water that connect to the lake are home to bustling worlds of different fish species and other animals.

Not only is this the biggest alpine lake in the US, but it also boasts some of the clearest and cold waters to prove it. To an angler’s delight, however, these cold waters are ideal for the fish that dwell beneath the surface.

Whether you’re pier fishing, offshore fishing, or trying to get a catch from the beach, Lake Tahoe is guaranteed to give you results.

Today, we are going to take you through a detailed guide to fishing at Lake Tahoe. We will show you what you can expect to find in the waters here, when the best time of year to fish is, and where the best areas are to get your catch rate up.

little fishing boat setting on the Calm clear water in lake Tahoe, with Trees and Mountains in the background

So, let’s dive into the waters of Lake Tahoe and discover the exciting possibilities when it comes to fishing in this sublime corner of the world.

What fish you can expect to catch

There is something here for all kinds of anglers. Lake Tahoe is located on the borders of two states with two-thirds of it straddling California and one-third within Nevada. If you’re a keen freshwater angler, then this Nirvana-like lake is the place to experience.

All year long, you can cast a line here and hook something every time. However, your best bet is to fish here in late spring and summer if you want to be assured of a catch.

Some of the most popular local fish include:

The Kokanee salmon (Land locked Sockeye) and many more species of fish are more popular during the warmest part of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the top catches you can expect to find at Lake Tahoe.

Salmon migration in Lake Tahoe at Nevada, USA


Fishing spots 

Lake Tahoe covers a vast area of 496.2 km² (191 square miles) so it is no surprise that it offers a whole host of incredible fishing opportunities. Boasting 63 tributaries and more fishing spots than a lifetime allows, the lake is a fisherman’s and woman’s dream come true.

Fishing spot in Lake Tahoe

Here are some of the top spots to visit:

  1. Emerald Bay – As well as being one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Emerald Bay is renowned for having an abundance of fish life to enjoy. The waters here are crystal clear and inundated with large rocks. This makes it the ideal location for trout fishing (Mackinaws, Rainbows, and Browns).
  2. Truckee River – This river flows out of Lake Tahoe. It is where the river separates from the lake and it’s also where many fly fishermen and women enjoy catching trout. You could spend days here fishing for the wide variety of fish in this area.
  3. Donner Lake – This deep lake is situated in the northern part of Lake Tahoe. This is a favored spot by anglers as it holds nearly all of the lake’s fish species here such as Mackinaw, Rainbow Trouts, Brown, and Brook Trout, and Kokanee. If you’re looking for jumbo Macks, this is the place to fish! 
  4. Zephyr Cove – Many local anglers believe this is the best area of Lake Tahoe to fish all year round. You can find Mackinaws here as well as Rainbow and Brown trout. With some simple trolling on a mid, windy day, your catch rate could be higher than ever here. 
  5. Middle of Lake Tahoe – For a relaxing day out on a charter, the middle of the lake is the place to be. For good-sized Macks, this is another great location to fish in. We suggest fishing here in the late summer for the Kokanee run and many other fish.

Types of fishing 

A saying goes “90% of fish swim in 10% of the lake.” When you consider its colossal size, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. However, this also means you must do your research before heading out to the lake to fish.

Woman Fishing Lake Tahoe During Sunset

We highly recommend exploring the locations that will help you find your desired catch and use techniques to do so. 

Some of the most popular types of fishing on Lake Tahoe include:

  • Shore fishing
  • Charter fishing
  • Kayak fishing

Shore fishing can be tricky in most areas of Lake Tahoe due to its steep and inaccessible nature. But, there are exceptions. The east side is a favored spot by shore fishermen. These areas include Cave Rock, Kings beach, and Tahoe Shores.

The southern area of the lake also offers good action from the shore. The best time to catch fish from the shores of Tahoe is during the warmest period of the year, from May to September.

Around these times, Rainbow and Brown trout, as well as Bass and Crappie, are in abundance. Mackinaws are also possible catches if you’re lucky too.

Charter fishing is very popular on the lake, mainly down to its huge size. It is too big to head out on the waters on your own at first. This is why experienced locals have explored the lake’s depths and know the ins and outs of the great waters.

By taking a Charter out on the lake, your chances of a catch are much higher than when fishing solo. Charter operators will help you locate the fish, take you out at the best times, and also provide all the necessary gear as well. The easiest places to find a charter guide are at South Lake Tahoe, Glenbrook, and Tahoe Vista.

Man fishing from kayak at Lake Tahoe

Kayak fishing is perfect for early morning sunrises and whole days spent out on the lake. This can be a productive way of fishing for Kokanee and varieties of trout by jigging or trolling, especially from July through to October.

There are guides that organize special activities but you must be careful of the ever-changing weather conditions. Therefore, you should not kayak too far from the shore. This is a perfect way of spending the day with your friends and family. And you may even catch a whole lot of fish!

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