Landing a big fish the Lake Tahoe way

With visibility to 75 feet below its surface, Lake Tahoe is home to more fish than you can shake a pole at.

Sure there’s plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore and miles of beaches to comb, but what is lurking off the shore and in the deep blue water are stories of great fish caught and some lost.

Lake Tahoe is abundant with lake trout, otherwise known as Mackinaw. These deep lake fish can weigh more than 30 pounds and are quite a thrill to catch.

The Lake Tahoe record for Mackinaw trout is a 37-pound, 6-ounce (44 inches in length) trophy caught way back in 1974. To date, only a handful of Macks have been caught that have weighed 30 pounds or more.

There’s a number of charter outfits around Tahoe South that offer mackinaw fishing packages. Guides are known for taking their passengers out to the sweetest spots, best known for catching the big ones.

Capt. Scotty with Tahoe Sport Fishing holds up their record breaking Kokanee Salmon. Photo: Tahoe Sport Fishing.
Capt. Scotty with Tahoe Sport Fishing holds up their record breaking Kokanee Salmon.
Photo: Tahoe Sport Fishing.

Mackinaw isn’t the only fish in the lake. There are plenty of rainbow, brown and brook trout and Kokanee salmon to be caught, too, with a little patience and some practical tips, pointers and advice. The daily limit for Lake Tahoe is five trout and two mackinaw.  Most other lakes and streams in the Lake Tahoe Basin have a limit of five trout.

The best fishing spots around Lake Tahoe are usually kept as secret as a gold miner’s claim.  If you’re a first timer, South Shore is an ideal spot to learn to fish because there are several lakes packed with fish of all species and sizes.

While shoreline fishing around local beaches can be difficult as many guides will explain, South Shore Tahoe locals swear by Cave Rock as the best place to land a trophy trout.

Another local favorite spot is Sawmill Pond, where parents take their kids for one of the best chances to catch rainbow trout.

Besides the big Lake, the south and east shore is home to many streams, rivers and smaller bodies of water. Hang around at one of the tackle shops and get the inside scoop on where to go and check out some local favorite spots in the area.

Note that fishing regulations and license fees vary between California and Nevada and that a license is always required to fish in either state. Before fishing, pick up a current copy of the State Fish and Game regulations available online or at most sporting good stores that sell fishing licenses.

What’s your favorite Lake Tahoe fishing spot?

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