LAKE TAHOE FISH SPECIES

Lake Tahoe is home to many fish. There are the smaller fish that frequent the shallows and shallower waters like bass, whitefish, crappie, sculpin, catfish and more. Then there are the trophy fish of the lake that we target, the Rainbow Trout, the Brown Trout, the Mackinaw or Lake Trout and the Kokanee Salmon. These fish are not native to the lake but are transplants that have strived in the cold waters of Lake Tahoe and have been successfully creating new generations. This is good because it means that for now they will not be overfished.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout are one of the most sought after freshwater game fish we target during our fishing charters in Lake Tahoe. One of the most common and easiest species of Trout, the Rainbow Trout is both abundant in many areas of the world. They can be found in rivers and streams as well as lakes and ponds. Rainbow Trout get their name from the colors that shine on their skin. The colors of their backs can vary from brown to blue but all Rainbow Trout have a pinkish band running the length of their body and a silver underside that fades to pearl white. Wild caught Rainbow Trout is not just delicious it is also a fun fish to catch. When being reeled in they put up a good fight and often jump.

Colorful Rainbow Trout about to be released
Big brown trout two guys caught in Lake Tahoe with Captain Joby

Brown Trout

The Brown Trout are not as common as their cousin the Rainbow Trout. They live in the same places and eat the same foods as the Rainbow but they are much harder to catch. They are usually found in cooler water river and lakes although they are found in harbors and some are even found in the ocean. Browns have different shades of brown sides, from deep brown to tan to pale yellow. They are sprinkled with black, brown and red spots on their sides and gills. The average size for a Brown Trout is 1 to 2 pounds. but they can weigh as much as the world record of 40 pounds. A catch of over four pounds is a real prize. Browns are determined fighters that can display some wild jumps when hooked.

Mackinaw Trout

The Mackinaw Trout or as it is sometimes called, Lake Trout is a freshwater fish living mostly in North America but can be found throughout the world. They are found in cool deep water lakes. Not native to Lake Tahoe this voracious fish survives well in the colder waters rich with smaller fish. While its name is Trout it is actually in the Char family. The body, dorsal and tail fins of most Mackinaw are brown or dark green and marked with yellowish or white spots while the other fins are usually unmarked and lined with white. The largest of the trout it can reach sizes over 90 lbs but a 5-30 lb. Mackinaw is more common. Mackinaws are strong fighters and are prized as a game fish.
Lake Tahoe fishing for trout with Mile High Fishing Charters
A lady holding her catch of Kokanee Salmon in Lake Tahoe

Kokanee Salmon

The Kokanee Salmon also known as Kokanee Trout is a smaller sized landlocked strictly freshwater Sockeye Salmon. Kokanee are relatively small growing to 9-12 inches and weighing 1 lb. on average however they can reach sizes of 20 inches and weighing 3-5 lbs. Kokanees have a blue back, silver sides and small dots on the back and tail. During spawning season males will turn a deep crimson color while the females turn a dingy black. Just like the Sockeye, the Kokanee spawns once in their lifetime and after spawning dies. Also just like its cousins, Kokanee Salmon are a fun fish to hook up with and a delicious fish to eat.