Lake Tahoe

Map of Lake Tahoe

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General John C. Fremont was the first of the European settlers to discover Lake Tahoe in 1844. Prior to this “discovery,” Washoe Indians seasonally inhabited the basin. A dam was built at the outlet (Truckee River) in 1909, raising the lake an additional 6-foot. The lake is known for its deep blue color and sits in a beautifully forested area at a maximum elevation of 6,229 feet, MSL.

Pertinent Information

Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevada, covers 121,000 surface acres or 192 square miles to a depth of 1,646 feet. Several introduced sport fishes inhabit the lake including lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee salmon. Native fishes include mountain whitefish, Tahoe sucker, Lahontan sucker, speckled dace, redside shiner, Lahontan tui chub, and Paiute sculpin. Survey data generally shows anglers averaging about 1.5 fish per day. Fishing throughout the year is variable, but for shore, topline, and deepline angling, July and August are the most productive months in terms of angler success rates. Fishing from the two State Parks (Cave Rock and Sand Harbor), shore and topline angling seems to produce the best catch rates for small rainbow trout. These are also locations that NDOW stock. Shore access is limited due to private property and very limited parking. Standard shore baits include worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, and minnows. Lures such as Mepps, Panther Martins, Rapalas, and Daredevils often catch cruising rainbow and brown trout. Topline trolling for rainbow and brown trout is, at times, productive, while deepline trolling and jigging are the most widely used techniques for mackinaw (lake trout). Numerous commercial guide services are available for anglers that lack the extensive fishing setups required for lake trout fishing and toplining. Record fish from the Trophy Fish Program include a 4-lb 13-oz kokanee salmon, a 15-lb 15-oz brown trout caught in 2011, a 37-lb 6-oz mackinaw (state record), an 11-lb 7-oz rainbow trout, and a 4-lb 9-oz mountain whitefish (unofficial state record).


25,000 triploid rainbow trout will be stocked at Cave Rock and Sand Harbor.


Season is open year around, 1 hour before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset, except for the following closed areas: Within a 200 yard radius of the mouths of Third, Incline, and Woods Creeks; a 500 yard radius from Sand Harbor Boat Ramp; and within the boat launch area inside the jetty at Cave Rock Boat Ramp. Limits are 5 coldwater game fish of which not more than 2 may be mackinaw (lake trout). Live Bait: Only Lahontan redside shiner, tui chub, Tahoe sucker, mountain sucker, Paiute sculpin and speckled dace may be used as live bait fish. Fish must be taken from and native to Lake Tahoe. Anglers may possess either a Nevada or California license to fish anywhere on the lake.

Boating Regulations

Reduced Speed Areas: All boat harbors and other areas designated by buoys are areas in which a vessel must be operated at a speed that leaves a flat wake, but in no case may a vessel be operated at a speed in excess of 5 nautical miles per hour to include: Zephyr Cove, Cave Rock, Round Hill Pines Beach and Glen Brook Bay in Douglas County; Sand Harbor; Incline Village General Improvement District Boat Ramp, and Crystal Shores West in Washoe County. Boating Prohibited Areas: Vessels are prohibited in areas which are designated by signs or buoys as follows: the main beaches at Sand Harbor and Diver’s Cove within Lake Tahoe State Park; the swimming area of Incline Village General Improvement District and Burnt Cedar Beach; the swimming area of Galilee at the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center; the swimming area of the Lakeridge General Improvement District; the swimming area of the Glenbrook Homeowner’s Association; the swimming area of the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe; the swimming area of Zephyr Cove Marina; and the swimming area of Crystal Shores West; the swimming and beach area adjacent to Nevada Beach described in CFR 162.215. Motor Restrictions: There are motor restrictions (type) imposed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority (TRPA). Visit


From Reno, travel 10 miles south on Hwy 395 to SR 431, turning right and traveling 20 miles west to Lake Tahoe. From Carson City, travel 2 miles south on Hwy 395 to SR 50, turning right and traveling 14 miles west to the lake. Hwy 28 circumnavigates the lake.


  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Mackinaw Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon

  • Regions

  • Western Nevada

  • Counties

  • Carson City
  • Douglas
  • Washoe