The Truckee River flows out of Lake Tahoe at Tahoe City and runs north and east through the towns of Truckee and Reno and finally winds its way to its final destination in Pyramid Lake.
The California side can be broken into 3 sections – The upper section would be considered the stretch from Lake Tahoe to the Town of Truckee. This section is open for fishing from the last Saturday in April until November 15th. The entire section has general regulations and is known better for rafting than fishing. That being said, it can be a lot of fun to fish. The best time of year to fish the upper section is in the late summer and fall when the water is lower and there is less traffic on the river. The water in the upper section runs cold and clear for most of the year. The fish are small here but they do not see many flies. Smaller attracter dries fished with a dropper work really well. The best flows are between 100 CFS and 250 CFS.
The middle section is the stretch from the town of Truckee to the confluence of the Little Truckee River. This section has a variety of pocket water, pools and runs. Special regulations apply on all of this water. The best time to fish this section is after runoff, through the summer and into fall until snow and weather make access difficult. The first 80 degree day in Truckee (usually in late May) sparks a spectacular week of carpenter ant fishing. The green drakes hatch in June and early July while a variety of caddis emerge all summer long as do the popular little yellow stoneflies. In August the crayfish molt and dead drifting crayfish patterns can be deadly. In the fall, as the air temperature cools, blue wing olive (baetis) mayflies hatch, especially on cloudy days. This is also the time of year the october caddis hatch occurs. There are good populations of brown and rainbow trout in this section and fish in the 15-20 inch range are not uncommon. The best flows are between 150 CFS and 400 CFS.
The lower of the three sections is called the canyon section. Anything between the concluence of the Little Truckee down to the Nevada state line would be considered the canyon section. This section is a lot more gradient and full of big plunge pools, deep holes but still has a decent amount of pocket water. This section also has some special regulations that have helped the fishing in the last few years. There is more water in the river through this section due to countless tributaries pouring into the river along the way. It is common to see 500+ cfs in this area, especially during runoff and the summer months. The hatches are very similar to the middle section. They may start a little earlier in the evenings because the canyon walls shade the water late in the day. This section can be tricky to wade with faster moving water and higher flows. A wading staff is a great idea for any part of the Truckee River. Best flows are 250 CFS to 550 CFS.
The Nevada side of the Truckee can be broken into 2 sections: West of Reno and the Lower River (east of Reno.)
The Western section starts at the Nevada state line and runs through downtown Reno and Sparks. As the river comes out of the canyon in California it starts to level out again. There are some very large runs, riffles, and pools in Nevada as well as plenty of pocket water that hold big rainbow and brown trout. The first 2 miles on the NV side are special regulations water. Most of the Nevada side gets stocked in the spring and summer months and is a perfect place for a beginner or group outings. The only down side to the fishing on the Nevada side is the huge amount of recreational rafters and tubers in the dog days of summer. In July and August the best time to be on the river is early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the traffic and the heat. The hatches are very similar to the California side with the exception of a very good skwala stonefly that hatches in early February in NV that does not occur in the upper river. It is common to see caddis hatching before the spring run-off starts. The caddis will continue to hatch throughout the year. There is a very good PMD hatch in late spring and early fall. The Nevada side can be fished all year and wintertime offers some of the best fishing for trophy trout. This section of river also has a very good winter baetis hatch. The best flows are between 250 CFS and 450 CFS.
The section refered to commonly as the “lower river” is anything East of Reno, downstream to the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. The lower river has a lot of “frog water” but wherever there are riffles, there are trout. The best time to fish this water is in the late fall, winter and early spring months. There are some really good fall and winter baetis hatches (the best anywhere on the Truckee) throughout this section, especially on cloudy days. The caddis start hatching down here in early March. Because of abundant baitfish, streamer fishing is also a very good method to fool a big trout in the lower river. Late August and early September is a great time to fish baby crawfish patterns. In the summer months the water gets really warm and trout fishing is tough. The carp fishing can be epic and is a blast on flies during the hottest part of the summer. Hooking a 20 plus pound carp is a daily possibility! Best flows in this section are between 400 CFS and 600 CFS.