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Lake Tahoe Fishing Guide: Tips, Species, and More

Lake Tahoe Fishing Guide: Tips, Species, and More

Fishing in Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular activities for visitors and locals alike. There is something for every angler, with an abundance of lakes, rivers, streams, and other bodies of water to fish in and around.

The following is a list of fish types that you can find at lake Tahoe:

Brown Trout

The best way to fish for brown trout in Lake Tahoe is to target areas near the Truckee River. Brown trout are rare in Lake Tahoe but can be caught using live nightcrawlers and minnow-imitating lures in early summer. For the best chance at success, fish near the river where these fish are more plentiful. Some brown trout in the area can weigh over 20 pounds, so be prepared for a fight if you hook into one of these lunkers!

Fly fisherman with brown trout

Rainbow Trout

You can find Rainbow trout in good numbers in Lake Tahoe, and the western half of the lake is typically better for rainbow trout fishing. To increase your chances of success, try fishing during the low-light hours of early morning and evening or on windy days. Shore fishing for rainbow trout in Lake Tahoe is most successful when using nightcrawlers, spinners, and spoons. Big rainbows are more likely to be caught from shore near the first significant drop-off.

Fresh caught Rainbow Trout

Brook Trout

Brook Trout is a type of trout found in Lake Tahoe. They are olive-green to olive-brown in color, with reddish tints, and have a vermiculate appearance on their backs and upper sides. Brook Trout are opportunistic eaters who eat tiny crawfish, worms, minnows, and terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. Brook Trout can be taken with various flies and lures and are not as picky as other trout species.

Some popular lures for Brook Trout include spinners (especially Bang-Tail size 018 and Blue Foxes size 0), worms, natural bugs, grasshoppers, woolly buggers, and floating flies. Brook Trout spawn in October-November and feed on insects, small fish, and crustaceans. The California State Record Brook Trout was caught in 1932 and weighed 9 lbs 12 oz. The meat is firm, flaky, and excellent to eat.

Male brook trout in spawning colors in a landing net

Yellow Perch

The yellow perch is a freshwater fish that can be found on the shoreline. They are aggressive and will quickly attack anything that looks like it could be eaten. The yellow perch prefers nearby structures and is located in many parts of Lake Tahoe. You can catch yellow perch using worms, dough balls, small spinners, and trout flies. Fishing with worms is the most effective way to catch yellow perch.

Yellow Perch

Bluegill or Sunfish

Both bluegill and sunfish are popular panfish to catch in Lake Tahoe. They are predators and play a role in the ecosystem, but they are also easy for anglers to catch. Spawning typically happens in April and May. To catch bluegill, use small hooks with worms or dough balls as bait. For sunfish, try using small spinners or trout flies, or small hooks with nightcrawlers.

Sunfish are also known as bream and can be found in many lakes across the country. They do not get very large but are fun to catch. They are a favorite quarry of fly fishermen because they can be caught on small flies and lures, making them ideal for beginning anglers.



Catfish can be found in Lake Tahoe. They range in size from 1-2 pounds to 100 pounds. The best time to fish for catfish is during the summer when the water is warmer, and the meat will taste less muddy. To catch catfish in Lake Tahoe, use live bait such as cut bait or worms or frozen cut bait such as anchovies, mackerel, or sardines. The chicken liver also makes good bait. Catfish prefer scavenging near the marinas or around the dam but can also be found near live bait.

Live catfish lie on the grass. Fresh catch.

White and Black Crappie

The best time to fish for crappie in Lake Tahoe is during the summer months when the days are hot and nights are cool. White crappie can be found in schools and are most often caught over submerged brush and timber. The black crappie is more elusive but can also be caught in this lake. They tend to linger over submerged brush and timber.

Both white and black crappie have different appearances and tolerances for warmer water. The average white or black crappie weight in this lake is just under a pound. White crappie mainly eats larvae, small fish, and crustaceans, while black crappie feed on threadfin shad and minnows. The table quality of both types of crappies is good. To entice these fish, try using live minnows under bobbers with Crappie jigs or tubes as bait. For carp, silver spoons or spinners work well.

Black Crappie

Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee salmon are landlocked sockeye salmon widely introduced to California’s large, deep lakes and reservoirs. Kokanee salmon prefer deep, cool water and can be found anywhere from 30 to 100 feet below the surface. They are excellent fighters for their size and can be caught easily.

The best time to catch kokanee salmon is early spring, but you can catch them throughout the year. The best place to catch kokanee salmon is in areas just off Camp Richardson, Meeks Bay, and Cave Rock. Kokanee salmon are a big favorite in Tahoe, and trolling is the best way to catch them. Downriggers are a popular tool for trolling for kokanee salmon.

Kokanee Salmon

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass fishing in Lake Tahoe can be incredibly successful with the proper techniques. Clear to moderately stained water is preferred by largemouth bass, so lures which match the prevailing conditions will be most effective. Smaller lures with finesse techniques are often best when the wind is calm. When the water is murky or stained, darker lures usually produce the most bites. You can also catch largemouth bass by casting large swimbaits for glide baits in trout patterns, throwing a drop shot rig or small crankbait, or dragging a Texas-rigged Senko around fish attracting structure.

If all else fails, switching to a drop shot rig or Neko rig and targeting points, boulders, or channel swings will likely produce results. The best time to fish for largemouth bass in Lake Tahoe is generally considered to be springtime between March and May when they are actively feeding on shad, minnows, small trout, small salmon, and bluegill. Largemouth bass of decent table quality can be caught throughout the year but are best when fresh.

Topwater lures are often favored for largemouth bass in Lake Tahoe, as buzz baits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and spinnerbaits can be effective. Other lure choices that anglers have succeeded with include frogs, fish baits, jigs, and tubes, heavy vegetation punching lures, jerk baits, and chatter baits. Drop shooting has also become popular for largemouth bass fishing in Lake Tahoe.

Largemouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass is different from largemouth bass in several ways. They are smaller than largemouth bass but can be pretty aggressive. Smallmouth bass can be caught using various techniques, including finesse jigs, Mojo rigs, Neko rigs, small crankbaits, football jigs, soft plastic swimbaits, jerk baits, chatter baits, swim jigs, and drop shot worms. Spawning for smallmouth bass in Lake Tahoe usually happens in March-May.

Smallmouth bass like live bait, such as minnows, hellgrammites, and crayfish. You can also use tubes and streamers to catch smallmouth bass. Smallmouth bass lives in many different lakes, so it’s important to know what bait to use in each one.

Smallmouth Bass

Best Baits to Use at Lake Tahoe

The best bait to use when fishing at Lake Tahoe is live bait. This is because the fish in the lake are attracted to the movement and smell of live bait, making them more likely to bite.

The best live bait to use when fishing at Lake Tahoe is worms. This is because they are easy to find, cheap, and can be used in multiple ways. Worms can be fished in the same way as other bait but can also be used to make a worm bed. You will need some earthworms and a bucket of dirt from the lake to do this. The worms can live off the dirt’s nutrients, and you can use them as bait.

If you want a bigger catch, it is better to fish with lures. Lures are artificial bait, meaning they do not contain real meat or fish. They can be bought from most fishing stores and come in many different shapes and sizes.

Fishing gear in organizer, box. Various baits for predatory fish. Artificial fish for hook. Weights

How can I get a fishing license for Lake Tahoe?

A fishing license is required to fish in Lake Tahoe. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website must obtain the permit. The website provides information on where and when to buy a license, how to get a permit, and how to catch and release a fish.

What should I bring with me if I go fishing at Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is a large lake with plenty of fish to make fishing at Lake Tahoe an enjoyable experience. However, there are some things you should bring with you if you’re going fishing at Lake Tahoe. You should bring a fishing rod and some bait. You can either use live or artificial bait, but it’s best to use lures because they are more effective than other types of bait.

You should bring a cooler if you keep the fish you catch. It’s best to keep them alive in order to eat them later or sell them at the market. Also, you should bring some food. You might want to take a break from fishing at some point, so it’s good to have something to eat and drink while resting.