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Klayko Bow Matt Heron

Fly Fishing the Truckee River with guide Matt Heron

By Matt Heron. Photos by Matt Heron and Katey Hamill

There are some 60-70 tributaries, big and small that fill Lake Tahoe with some of the most beautiful blue water on planet earth. And there is only one outlet, the Truckee River. Recreational opportunities abound for visitors to the area, paddle boarding, rafting, swimming, kayaking, even white water rafting in lower canyon. With all that, it’s fly fishing that brings anglers from across the country to try and trick some of our local trophy trout.

The upper stretch as it’s known, along Rt. 89 from Tahoe City to Truckee is famous for its easy access as well as fishing opportunities. There are decent populations of Brown and Rainbow trout though this area, mostly smaller in size with the occasional really big fish being landed each year. This is also the area that gets stocked by CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. This year alone there will be 2,500 lbs of Lahontan Cutthroat trout stocked at different points along 89.

Photo Courtesy © Matt Heron Fly Fishing

Once you hit the town of Truckee the game changes. From Trout Creek in Truckee to the Nevada border the river is managed for wild, trophy trout. Of these 30+ miles of river, there is only one small private water stretch that is stocked. The rest of the resident fish are wild, born and raised in the Truckee River.
It’s this section of water and its large wild trout that has made the Truckee famous. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t come easy. Appropriately nicknamed the “Trickee” or the “Toughee”, the Truckee doesn’t give up her secrets easily.

One of the highlights of the wild trout section is the ability to try your hand at these fish year round. From Trout Creek to NV is managed as year-round, barbless, catch and release, no bait fishery. Winter fishing on the Truckee can be one of the best times to land that Truckee trophy. Less angling pressure and less food means your chances can increase during the snowiest time of the year.

That said, summer is when most anglers ascend on the river, and for good reason. By June we usually start to see our first consistent hatches of the year, water temps hit high 50s to low 60s after run-off and the fish take advantage of these prime conditions.

Photo Courtesy © Katey Hamill

Our first hatches of summer usually include PMDs, Green Drakes, Caddis and even Carpenter ants early on. Depending on conditions and month you’ll also see Yellow Sallies and Golden Stones. Because of the plethora of bugs, summer can sometimes be the best time of year to fish dry flies. Although the Truckee isn’t known for its outstanding dry fly fishing, this time of year the fish are looking up and if you hit it just right it can be off the charts.

As mentioned previously, it’s the wild Browns and Rainbows that hold a special place in people’s hearts for this area. We’re extremely lucky to have some of the biggest wild fish in the country in our backyard. But again, they don’t come easy. The Truckee is notorious for being a size, not a numbers game. Anglers flock here for the chance at that one big fish. If you put your time in, you might just land the fish of a lifetime!

Photo Courtesy © Katey Hamill

For any anglers looking to hone their skills before hitting the Truckee, Martis Camp is hosting a great line up of class options this summer. Starting June 24th, Martis Camp will be hosting their annual Family Fishing Day from 3-6pm, every Saturday all summer. This is a great way for families and kids to “Get their feet wet” in fly fishing. These lessons are very informal, laid back and short and sweet.

For anyone looking for more formal instructions, check out the Martis Camp Cast N’ Catch options on the summer calendar. This three hour class includes an hour and half casting lesson and an hour and a half of guided fishing on Concert Lake. This is the perfect tune up for any trip on the Truckee. If the summer calendar dates don’t work, contact Matt Heron at directly to schedule a private lesson with one of his guides.