If you love fishing and you’re in the Tahoe area you are most likely asking yourself, “How do I fish this lake? What kind of fish are in this lake? Where do I start, it’s huge!” Even after a successful day of fishing while chartering Lake Tahoe I still have clients ask me how they can fish Lake Tahoe from shore. So I figured… how about we do an article about it!
The unfortunate news is that fishing Tahoe from shore can be a difficult task if you start in the wrong place. With 72 miles of shoreline finding where to fish from shore can be an impossible task. To get started lets talk about where to fish Lake Tahoe from shore and when.
Summer time is a challenging time of year to try fishing from shore. Your best option will most likely be at Cave Rock State Park and boat Launch. The reason this is often your best option year around and during the summer is because it is one of the more accessible places to get a line wet around the lake. It is also one of the few places that fish are planted throughout the summer. The department of fish and wildlife plants Cut Throat Trout and Rainbow trout. These fish will often stay in this general area because bait and food sources are plentiful. The need for these fish to quickly move into other waters is often unnecessary because the small area of Cave Rock is extremely large compared to most lakes or the hatchery that the fish are raised in. Your chances of catching a fish from shore at Cave Rock are higher than any place around the lake.
Summer fishing from shore is typically a waiting game. If you’re patient it can be very rewarding. Camping around the lake often presents some opportunities to hook a fish. The camp grounds around Emerald Bay and DL Bliss State Park have major potential from shore. The best way to find an area near these campgrounds is to look at the color of the water and determine where the depth changes and drops off. If you are able to find an area that presents a drop off close to shore you will increase your odds if you can get your bait in that area. Usually these areas are rocky. Bring extra tackle and let your bait soak as long as you can. Fish will often cruise throughout these areas and push towards the shallower waters. Shallow is not to be confused with anything less than 30 feet. If you can’t present your bait in water deeper than 30 feet you are in the wrong area. During the summer most fish are in deeper water. Fish deep and patiently if you plan on going this route during the summer.
Summer also gives anglers the chance to fish near and in the inlets of Lake Tahoe. Although this time of year is a great opportunity to fish these waters you must be wary of the regulations. All waters leading into Lake Tahoe are open from July 1st through September 30th. When closed anglers must not fish within 300 feet of these rivers or creeks. Be sure to check your regulations before you begin fishing. Without getting completely off topic the 3 majors inlets of Tahoe are very fishy. These tributaries are located in South Lake Tahoe and fishing the lake near these outlets greatly increases your odds of catching. Making your way up these tributaries offers some fishing experiences that take me back to the roots of learning how to fish. The areas of the main lake where these rivers flow in offer a good chance of catching a decent fish during the summer.
Fall, Winter and Spring are ideal for shore fishing on Lake Tahoe. The water is cooling or cold and fish are more likely to be shallow. Shallow is considered 15 to 30 ft. during these months. Fishing an area where the shallows extend is not ideal. Nevada Beach offers an opportunity to present your bait at 20 ft. while the majority of South Shore is shallower. In most areas of South Lake Tahoe you can sling the cast of your life and still only be in 7 ft. of water. Getting a better grasp of Tahoe’s contours and depths will help you tremendously. Many stores offer maps but your best bet is to do a little research on the internet. If you’re reading this you’re only a click away from seeing what areas extend shallow and where the lake drops off quickly.
My favorite time of year to fish from shore is during the colder months of the year. I have caught beautiful rainbows and browns from shore. I even had one outing where a friend caught an 11 pound brown from shore. That was an amazing experience, but it wasn’t without sacrifice. We had to use snow shoes to get out to the shoreline of Nevada Beach. We were out for about 4 hours without a bite in 20 degree weather and finally I got one. I started reeling in a gorgeous little Rainbow Trout and then he got the bite of a lifetime. It was an amazing fish that I will never forget and neither will he. If you put in the time and effort you might just find yourself with an amazing fish on the line and a fishing story you’ll never stop telling. Thats only if you know what to use for bait and tackle.
When it comes to bait and tackle on the shores of Lake Tahoe you might find yourself surprised by the simplicity. Your average spinning rod combo will do just fine when it comes to gear. Make sure you have 6 to 8 pound fluorocarbon tied on and you’ll be headed in the right direction. The easiest and most effective way to shore fish Tahoe is the Carolina rig with a either a live minnow or a worm. We offer live minnows at Mile High’s bait shop located in South Lake Tahoe. For those that don’t know how to tie a Carolina rig here is a little tutorial. From rod tip to hook, first you will have an egg weight (1/2oz to 3/4oz) and then a swivel. From the swivel you want a leader that is about 15 inches to 2 ft and then the hook. When it comes to minnows your best chance of fishing them live is to hook them in the back. You will want to place your hook perpendicularly directly behind the dorsal fin. Make sure not to go too low into the body of the fish. It’s about a 1/16 of an inch deep and the minnow should keep on swimming. For the worm things are fairly simple. Use a worm blower to inflate the worm so it will float off the bottom. I prefer to also use a worm threader to completely hide the base of the hook. When fishing Cave Rock a ball of Powerbait on a Carolina Rig can also be productive because the fish in that area are planted. If you have a second rod stamp you can also throw a Kastmaster to try and increase the chance of catching a fish from shore. It is less productive than using bait, but it keeps you busy and when you get a bite and feel it the excitement is unmatchable.
Although fishing from shore can offer some amazing fish it is typically a sacrifice of time and effort. Fishing Tahoe from shore can be one the most rewarding experiences trout fishing has to offer, but it’s also the most difficult way to fish Lake Tahoe. More hours are spent waiting than catching and at the end of the day being on a boat is the preferred way to fish. If you go into shore fishing Tahoe with extremely high expectations you will likely be disappointed. If you go into it knowing that patience is of the essence you might end up with an amazing trophy trout from the shores of Lake Tahoe.