Fishing from a kayak on Lake Tahoe is absolutely thrilling. Being on a good Lake Trout bite and having a double digit fish tow you around will have your heart racing. So will all the dangers that come along with it. If you’re looking to start your kayak fishing adventure on Lake Tahoe this will be a good starting point to prepare yourself.
The best tip I can give you is to hire a fishing guide. Come fish with us at Mile High Fishing for a day and get your bearings. Lake Tahoe is huge and has so many places to fish that you will be completely lost without getting on the water with an experienced guide. Fishing Tahoe from a boat is difficult. Fishing from a kayak often magnifies those difficulties. Most anglers that bring their own boat to Tahoe often fish with us for a day so they have an idea of how to fish the lake. The reason for this is that they’ve spent 2 or 3 days of fishing without catching anything or they have had very limited success. Get on a boat with someone that fishes Lake Tahoe for a living. Ask questions and pay attention.
Once you have your bearings and a sense of how to fish Lake Tahoe you need be aware of the dangers and safety issues. Lake Tahoe is gigantic and overwhelmingly deep. Awareness on the water should be your number one priority. Be consciences of how far away from shore you are. If it’s further than you would be able to swim without a life preserver you are too far out. You can find some great fishing spots that are within a few hundred yards of shore. Recognize that Tahoe is extremely busy in the summer time and boat traffic will increase throughout the morning. The worst thing you could do is match your blue kayak with your blue jacket and hat. Be as visible as possible. Wear a safety vest if you don’t have a bright shirt or jacket. The next danger is the weather. Tahoe weather is mild or wild and slightly unpredictable. Look at the forecast and then look at the water. If it’s questionable go to breakfast. Pay special attention the the wind. Tahoe is 22.5 miles long and getting blown across while trying to stay upright is something you don’t want to experience. The next issue is water temperature. It’s a cold alpine lake so consider the time of year and your chances of survival if you’re fishing during the colder months of the year. Safety is your biggest concern when on Lake Tahoe and it is often overlooked. Be aware and prepared.
If you’re really into kayak fishing and have it setup with a fish finder you’re ahead of the game and exponentially increase your chances of catching. For the basic kayak angler your best bet is going to be fishing for Kokanee Salmon from mid summer to fall. The setup can be slightly daunting but catching them is relatively easy. Put a leadcore setup on a flexible rod that wont rip the hooks out of the Salmons mouth. The Kokanee Salmon have extremely soft mouths and it doesn’t take much to yank a hook through its mouth. The setup is pretty basic for these fish. Use 10 pound line off of your leadcore and attach some flashers. Model T’s work well and even Cow Bells will bring moderate success. Make sure they’re silver and its even better if they have red beads. From there you will want about 12-36 inches of leader to a Wedding Ring lure. The leader varies so start at 24 and find the sweet spot. Going out with a guide will give you a better idea of what length the fish are being caught with. The last thing is to tip your Wedding Ring with a single piece of corn. A cured corn will work well, but I know of a few old timers that will use corn straight out of the can. Once you have that set up work your way around the South West corner of the lake between Camp Richardson and Cascade Creek. The fish suspend from 60-90 feet so get your leadcore out enough to get to that depth and cruise around 2 mph. Sometimes these fish are suspended over 120 feet and sometimes 300 feet. Use other anglers as a reference point. Many boats will fish this area when the bite starts to pick up.
The next option for those with limited options on a kayak is to top line the shallows. This is most productive during the spring, fall and winter, but fish are caught during the summer using this method. Run the shore line with about 200 feet of fluorocarbon behind you with a Rapala or lure of your liking. You will want something that dives about 8 to 15 feet. Troll in 10-30 feet of water in areas that offer the best structure for fishing. Fish it slow or fish it fast. The speed will very depending on the day you’re fishing. Browns, Rainbows and even Mackinaw can be caught using this method.
One of the more enjoyable ways to catch Lake Trout on a kayak is jigging. This method is best used if you have a fish/depth finder on your kayak. Get yourself a braided line setup with about 20-30 ft of 12lb fluorocarbon leader. The jigs we use are made by CR Jig co. and they’re available at Mile High Fishing’s bait shop located in South Lake Tahoe. Crippled hearings are also productive and if you have a jig that you personally like don’t hesitate to use it. Make sure it’s 3-4 oz’s and you should be good to go. At the end of the day your best bet will be using the CR jigs. They’ve been around forever and they work great. The last little detail is to tip the jig with a minnow. Whether it’s in the head with a treble or threaded on with a bait hook you will increase your chances greatly. Work you way around 120 to 180 looking for a school of Lake Trout and once you find them drop that jig on their heads. It’s a great way to fish for them and it’s typically very productive. Another way to attack these fish is using a simple drift line with a live minnow.
Kayak fishing Lake Tahoe is extremely fun and can be very rewarding. It may take some time to figure it out and having a foot drive system will make life a lot easier considering the size of the lake. Get out and go for it. The Lake Tahoe area has many places to fish and kayak fishing on Tahoe isn’t the only option. Fallen Leaf Lake to the South West of Tahoe offers some great opportunities for kayak fishing as well. Alpine county has many lakes that are accessible by kayak and fun to fish. The area has plenty of kayak fishing to go around. Enjoy it, but remember to never turn your back on the water and pay attention.