Due to a major remodeling project I have spent little time on the water this season. However, every day I drive highway 89 and observe increasing fly fishing activity on this stretch of the river. Since I have fished this section very little after the devastating flood of 1997, I thought it might be time to do a fish survey.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the resident population is on the increase, especially the browns. Expect fish to be mostly in the 6 to 12 inch range, with a few larger browns here and there. No sign of cutthroats…maybe all the efforts to reestablish these fish will prove to be a waste of time and money.
Flows have been unusually high all summer, currently at 426 cfs. Water temperature is 52 degrees mid-morning, warming to 58 in the late afternoon.
Due to high flows, the fish are not holding in fast moving water. Fish the edges, seams and slow runs. Don’t waste your time in the riffles unless you can find deep pockets. Fish only water that is 3 feet or deeper, fish are not holding in shallows. Look for undercut banks and overhanging stream-side vegetation, any place with a shadow. Pay attention to signs of human activity and pass on any areas of obvious heavy use. Which brings up a point. I have observed large numbers of fisherman (and women) casting their brains out in the section between Tahoe City and River Ranch. During the rafting season this section is for the most part devoid of fish, don’t waste your time!
The section between Squaw Valley turn-off and north to Cabin Creek Road is your best bet, but even there expect only 4 to 5 locations to be worthwhile…each location will hold 2 to 5 fish…so keep moving if you don’t get a grab after three good drifts.
The usual nymph patterns work well with plenty of split shot to get a slow, deep drift. I observed very little surface feeding, even in the presence of a decent hatch. Drifting a stimulator pattern along edges and vegetation can produce results. Dark leach patterns on a sink-tip line will trigger the highest probability of success.
Like all of the Truckee, this section can be challenging so be persistent and cover a lot of water. Don’t spend too much time in one location, if the fish are there they’ll strike. There are not a lot of fish per mile in this river…your challenge is to find them!
Dan Cockrum, Instructor/Guide TFFO